There is an old Chinese saying that “China is the place for food, Sichuan is the place for flavor.” Sichuan Province is historically most known for its mastery of the culinary arts. However, before delving into the wonders of this region’s cuisine, it is important to know what “mala” is.
Unlike in the West, where the word “spicy” refers to a wide range of spicy tastes, China has many subcategories for the flavor. Sichuan Province is particularly known to merge two types of spicy, "Ma" and "La", in many of its dishes. The "La" flavor is the hot, tongue-searing result of capsaicin in chili peppers that Americans recognize from a variety of different cuisines, while the "Ma" flavor, however, is something else entirely. It refers to a slight numbing sensation caused by the Sichuan peppercorn, a type of dried berry that activates the touch sensory receptors of the tongue and mouth, making each of the nerve endings feel they are being lightly and repeatedly touched, which perfectly primes the palate for the "La" spices. The "mala" flavor is unique to Sichuan, and has brought
the province culinary fame throughout China. Though an acquired taste for some, many find it magical and addicting. We at Mala Sichuan are pleased to bring you the traditional taste of Sichuan Province.