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In the last five years, New York City has been invaded by extraordinary Chinese chefs, bringing regional specialties of the type not usually seen in the United States. Here Chengdu native Qilong Zhao offers his 24-spice recipe for the Sichuan dry pot meal; most of it is secret, but it includes ground geranium, orange peel, cardamom, and a few medicinal herbs. And instead of guests cooking the meal (as is usual in hot pot restaurants), a chef personally sautés the ingredients guests pick—everything from tofu, mushrooms, and lamb to rooster testicles, frog, and gizzards. Diners are also allowed to choose the level of spice, from none at all (eat elsewhere if that’s your jam—you’ll be disappointed in the flavor) to mild, spicy and  “super spicy.” (The last is inedible, I think—choose one of the middle rungs.) The results will vary by what you choose to include in your pot, but should be invigorating—the spice mix gives the tongue and lips a happy buzz. Unlike Xian Famous Foods (which is counter service, see below) Mala Project serves its meals in a spare-but-pleasant, brick-walled dining room with waiter service.