Hai Di Lao Hotpot – Why everyone loves this Sichuan hotpot chain
Hai Di Lao Hot Pot (海底捞火锅), is a chain of hot pot restaurants founded in Sichuan Province in 1994. At an early phrase, it was a small shop selling “hot and spicy soup”(麻辣汤)”. Over the past 19 years, it has owned 50 stores in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Nanjing and many other major cities. And recently, this popular steamboat chain has opened its first overseas outlet in Singapore.
Last friday, we had a birthday celebration for Jacob and Shi Ting at Hai Di Lao Hot Pot. I have heard that you got to queue at least 45 mins for a table. So we booked our dinner super early (i.e. 6pm). Upon reaching the restaurant, I was overwhelmed by the number of people waiting.
So what is so good about this place? Service is the magic word.
They offer unlimited free snacks for waiting guests. You can also enjoy free manicure and nail colouring, plus card games while you wait for your table. But remember to put in your names early as the wait for the manicure session might take sometime.
We ordered our food via iPad but the jovial and friendly staff would still explain the food items to us. The restaurant also offered an apron that you could put on to prevent the sauces from splashing onto your clothes. He even provided zipper plastic bags for us to prevent our handphones from being dirtied.
Food served is the typical Sichuan style hot pot with a selection of meats, vegetables and sauces. Start your meal with a drink of your choice. Our glasses of water, herbal tea and black soya milk were topped up regularly. While waiting for your soup to heat up, you can head to the corner to mix your own sauces and have some appetizers. There are a variety of sauces to choose from and you can pick the best one that suit your preference.
We wanted the typical yuan yang soup version which is half ma la (spicy) and half chicken soup. But the chicken soup ran out for that day, so we had seafood soup which was not bad! The mala soup is REALLY SPICY! It numbs our lips after a few seconds and it was so spicy that we had to mix with our seafood soup. The soup came in two rectangular pots and you can control the fire below the table.
Hai Di Lao Hot Pot offer a good quality of different kinds of sliced beefs and the sliced kurobota black pig. The rest of the ingredients are very fresh and to my liking.
You can also choose from a wide range of veggies, seafood, meats, fishballs, beefballs, and jiaozi dumplings. I enjoyed the smooth cod fish slices and the famous prawn paste piped into the boiling stock.
Be sure to order their handmade noodles and you will be entertained by the shop’s signature “noodle dance.” They stretch their dough till real thin and swirl it through the air and around our table. I was so afraid that it will land on my face!
Happy birthday to Jacob and Shi Ting! Did you see the lobster that Shi Ting is holding? IT IS A CAKE! Done by Patisserie Framboise! The staffs from Hai Di Lao also gathered to sing them a song!
I am very impressed with the service provided at Hai Di Lao! They are very meticulous and thoughtful and the staffs are so friendly as if we have known each other for a long time! And of course the noodle dance makes our dining experience a memorable one. I believe such good service is what distinguish this restaurant from other hotpot chains. I will be back. If you are wondering, our bill came up to $125.
P/S Remember to make reservation and come earlier!
Hai Di Lao Hotpot
Address: 3D River Valley Road
#02-04 Clarke Quay
Opening hours: 12pm to 3am
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