South Korea e-commerce platform "Wemakeprice" suggested that sales volume of the spicy powder and other ingredients needed to make malatang is 96 times greater than it was last year.
A market analysis by a retail chain in South Korea said that over the past five years, Japanese beer, which has been a top seller for years, is losing customers, while market share of Chinese beer has jumped from 4.9 to 10.2 percent, local newspaper The Central Times reported on Friday.
The newspaper attributes the sales increase to the growing popularity of spicy hot pot. Tsingtao beer, a famous Chinese brand, is a perfect match for the spicy Chinese cuisine, according to the report.
Just like popular street foods yupki-tteokboki or extra hot stir-fried rice cake and fiery chicken, malatang, which originated in the Southwest Chinese province of Sichuan, is especially hot because of the main ingredient, mala.
The dish is well-known for its unique spiciness that makes the tongue numb just as its Chinese characters indicate—"ma" means numb and "la" means spicy.
The mala sauce, which contains Sichuan pepper, gives the attractively spicy flavor that keeps people coming back for more.
Upon entering a malatang restaurant, diners are asked to choose fresh ingredients to add to their hot pot, such as vegetables, seafood balls, tofu, and mushrooms, along with their preferred meat — usually lamb or beef.
Chosen ingredients are cooked in two ways: as a soup, malatang, or fried, mala xiang guo. Customers can also choose the level of spiciness.
Local people are also making malatang meals at home as many Youtubers have uploaded recipes and cooking instructions online.
Compared to spicy foods that were trending previously, such as stir-fried rice cake or fiery chicken, which are heavy in carbohydrates, malatang has a healthier balance, including fresh vegetables and meat.
The popularity of malatang also sparked a sales increase in Chinese glass noodles. Customers who fell for the sticky and chewy texture are making new combinations of the glass noodle with other spicy foods.