Last night we had the BEST time at Hai Di Lau, a very successful chain of hot pot restaurants where the service was top-notch. It’s all about making us happy and we felt so welcomed and entertained. The attentive staff provided us with cellophane wrappers for our phones, gave us all aprons and the kids got plush toys to take home. Customers have access to laptops for surfing the net, manicures, games and snacks to help pass the wait time.
Please excuse the poor quality of these pictures, bad lighting conditions and iphone pics.
I’ve had hot pot, and it’s always the same boring boiled thing, but this is boiled in a delicious broth, with all kinds of fun ingredients. In addition to the usual raw, thinly sliced beef and lamb; there is also the unusual – fish, shrimp “noodle” (chopped fresh shrimp squeezed out of a piping bag), egg dumplings, sticky rice cakes, goose wings, thinly-sliced duck giblets, quail eggs, exotic mushrooms…the list goes on and on. We must of had at least fifty ingredients thrown into the pot.
There is also a bar of condiments – several types of sesame paste, peanut sauce, soya sauce, flavoured oils, chopped cilantro, green onions, garlic, chili peppers, and chopped beef jerky, for you to customize your own dipping sauce. The hot pots even come split, so you can have one side with a spicy broth. If the idea of communal eating grosses you out or you don’t want to fish for your dinner in a big vat, individual personal hot pots are also available.
Complimentary fruit platters and it’s all cut up so nicely for you. Look at this gorgeous dragon fruit, tastes and feels like a firm kiwi. They try really hard to please here…little touches like heart-shaped watermelon is cute.
At the end of the meal, a noodle guy comes and does his dance, then throws the noodles into your pot. I kept a close eye on the noodles to make sure it didn’t touch the floor! Dinner for 11 with lots of beer came to only $1,122 RMB ($172 CAD), and we ate like kings. Like all places in China, gratuity is often worked into the bill, even if you insist, they will not accept extra tips.
If you have some time, take a look at this news segment, which tells Hai Di Lau’s amazing story.