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Hai Di Lao - 15th May 2017

Hotpot lovers in Singapore should by now be familiar with the popular and growing restaurant chain, Hai Di Lao. Ambitious and hungry, it has its eyes on capturing an ever larger share of the regional market, and has even established its first outlet in California. It owes its acclaim to being able to provide the so-called “total experience” to their customers. For the uninitiated, the sheer attentiveness of the service can be a huge (but pleasant) surprise. They aim to please their customers, and I’d be willing to bet that more often than not, it succeeds.

Take, for example, the mundane act of queueing for a table. Waits can last up to three hours, and customers aren’t grumpy because they are treated with fresh longans, winter melon tea, ice-cream, nuts, and even manicures! These “freebies” are available to all customers even after they have been seated at a table. This might seem highly unusual, but if you consider that the “hotpot experience”is in essence a social, or even a celebratory one, then it all makes sense: A night out with friends, eating delicious hotpot and having a goors of the restaurant.


"Face Change" Performance

Of course, good service and exciting performances do not fill stomachs. The central element out at a hotpot restaurant is the food. The quality and freshness of the ingredients is crucial for a hotpot, so is the broth. Hai Di Lao offers a number of broths, and we chose four: Mala, Tomato, Chicken, and Sichuan Salted Vegetables. My personal favvourite was the Tomato broth. Of course, the king of Chinese hotpot broths must surely be the Mala, with its spicy dried chillies, cumin, star anise, and numbing Sichuan peppercorns.

Grain-fed Shabu Shabu and special dipping sauce 

We ordered some high quality grain-fed beef shabu shabu, Australian ox tongue, mutton and prawn paste. The meat was delicious enough by itself, and this speaks volumes of how tasty the soup broths are, but the dipping sauce our dedicated waitress mixed for us was a delicious complement too. Special mention must be made of the prawn paste, which comes in a piping bag and is piped directly into the bubbling broth at the table. What results is delightful, tiny morsels of prawn which goes remarkably well with their house chilli, a blend of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, green and red chillies (this chilli is available at the DIY condiments bar). Of course, we had our vegetables too, the most unique of which were the young bamboo shoots. Left to stew in the broth for the best part of the evening, it picks up the flavours from the broth and the other ingredients cooked in it.

Young bamboo shoot, ox tongue and HDL's dipping sauce

If there is only one excuse to celebrate, any occasion for a night out in town, Hai Di Lao is a great choice. With its generous hospitality and attentive service, Hai Di Lao is sure to win many loyal customers in the years to come. Even if you are not a regular in the hotpot scene, Hao Di Lao is sure to give you a full stomach, a warm heart and great memories with your dining companions. 

- Ariella Lee
Marketing Executive


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