The Heights Welcomes Fifth Location of Beloved Mala Sichuan Bistro
Houston is booming, and The Heights is gaining another famous restaurant in early 2022. Acclaimed Chinese Restaurant, Mala Sichuan Bistro is set to join M-K-T development with its fifth Houston-area location.
Owner Cori Xiong and her husband, Hong Chen, founded the first Mala Sichuan restaurant in Chinatown in 2011. From a young age, Xiong noticed that the Chinese food in Houston wasn’t authentic, and she wanted to be the one to bring that to the table. “I always had the question: ‘why don't Chinese restaurant owners just serve what real Chinese food is?’” Xiong tells Houstonia. “So I just thought to myself, I am going to. I am going to serve real authentic Sichuan food.”
Staying true to the spicy Sichuan cuisine, the menu includes items such as Dan Dan Noodles, Cumin Lamb, Water Boiled Fish fillet, and more. According to Xiong, the success from Mala Sichuan Bistro’s authenticity sparked a movement in Houston, prompting other restaurants to follow in its footsteps.
To step up their game for this fifth restaurant, Chen and Xiong are working with Gin Design Group and veteran bartender Chris Frankel to give this location a unique and genuine feel as it joins The Heights. Xiong tells Houstonia that she chose this location in the middle of the pandemic, but what drew her to it was seeing how many people were still out and about at the bars in the surrounding areas.
Although a cocktail menu is not yet finalized, patrons can expect Frankel to incorporate Chinese and East Asian ingredients into his drinks, allowing them to fit in with the spicy Sichuan menu. According to Xiong, Frankel is working closely with a friend who currently owns his own bar in China.
As for the interior design, Xiong chose to work with Gin Design Group because of the owner, Gin Braverman’s ties to Taiwan. Xiong was sure that Braverman could recreate the Chinese traditional elements that she’s been longing to incorporate into her restaurants. “We picked Gin because she has lived in Taiwan,” Xiong said. “They preserved the Chinese culture pretty well, so that means she’s experienced the culture and environment, too.”
Upon walking in, guests will be greeted with finishes and detailed designs that pay homage to Xiong’s homeland including a full-sized wooden Pagoda roof that is handmade by Suichan artists. This roof will float above the dining room, dozens of custom linen Chinese lanterns, and so much more, according to the design fact sheet.
Knowing that Mala Sichuan Bistro was the first of its kind to bring this type of cuisine to Houston makes Xiong happy, and she can’t wait for the expansion to The Heights. “I’ve always wanted to be that person,” Xiong tells Houstonia. “I’ve always wanted to be the pioneer to introduce authentic Siuchan food. I take pride in it. I wanted to regard myself as the pioneer who is trying to convert people into Mala lovers, into advocates for Sichuan food.”
The fifth location of Mala Sichuan Bistro is located at 600 N. Shepherd Dr. Ste 453, Houston, TX. For more information, visit the website.