Met up with Joyce earlier this month and we went to Hai Di Lao for hotpot since we both had the craving. I have read good reviews of this place, and Joyce also recommends it. I tried to make reservation but was informed that they do not take in reservation for dinner after 6pm, so we had to go down to queue.
I reached there around 6.30pm on a Wednesday and was given the queue number 51. At that time, they have only served up to queue number 25. Wow~ That’s gonna be a long waiting time for me.
So I was ushered to a small table and was served with snacks and tea.
Yep, a tray of popcorns, banana chips, and fruits. Plus, the free wifi password~
With these, I obediently waited for Joyce and my queue to be called.
So after 2 hours, and lotsa eye-powering the staff, we finally get to pre-order our food on an iPad. Then another 15mins, we were ushered to our round table. By then, we were hungry like hell.
Since we had pre-ordered, the food was served almost instantly. The staff gave us apron (in case we splash soup or sauces on our clothes), rubber band for my long hair, a cover for our bags, served us tea ($3++ per pax, free flow), ziplock for our phones, etc. I was really amazed by their efficiency and awesome service! I felt like a princess at the dining table.
While waiting for the soup to boil, we went to the sauce table to mix our preferred sauces.
Sauces are charged a $4++ per pax (free flow). There are plenty of condiments to choose from. For me, I had 2 bowls of mixtures:
1) sesame paste + sesame oil + sesame seeds (Tastes best with meat~)
2) Thai chilli padi (really spicy) + sesame oil + black vinegar + spring onions + coriander leaf + soy sauce + chilli oil + garlic
For our soup base, we chose the Mala soup and chicken soup ($20++). If you have never been to Hai Di Lao before, I recommend you try the chicken soup (boiled with black chicken, red dates, mushrooms, etc). It’s really really good, so good that the staff will serve you a bowl of the soup before you add any ingredients to it. Plus, there is no MSG. So drink to your heart’s content!
The Mala soup is not that spicy, but it still makes the lips a bit numb. The staff will remove the excess oil on the soup once in a while.
The veggies are quite pricey, but they are really fresh. The basket of veggies in the first picture cost about $9++ (half portion) and the plate of enoki is about $6++.
We ordered the sweet potato noodles ($3++ for half portion) which needs to be boiled for really long before it softens. And it’s so slippery that we had to trouble the staff to help us get it out from the soup with the chopsticks.
The handmade dumplings are good too! We only ordered half portion ($4++) because there’s only 2 of us. For half portions, simply tap on the “+0.5” in the iPad. “+1” would mean a full portion will be ordered. If you want to cancel the order, just tap “-0.5” or “-1”.
We ordered the sliced pork belly ($7++ half portion). The portion slice is alright for 2 of us. It’s really thinly sliced and cooked perfectly in the mala soup. From the color, you can tell that the meat is really fresh. And it stayed that way till we finished it. Most importantly, it does not have the porky taste which airpork does.
We also had the sliced US beef ($9++ half portion). Very fresh too!
For fish, we had the whole pomfret ($18++). It’s so meaty and sweet! Love the fish so much! This is so much better than dory fish slices which we get from those buffet style hotpot.
We also ordered the Kungfu noodles which the noodles master will perform the unique noodles dance. I took a video of it but the file size is too big to upload. But I found one in youtube and here it is: Hai Di Lao Noodle Dance
For that meal, our total bill was $122.41.
Although it’s pricey, but the food quality and service is definitely worth paying for.
In short, the ambience of Hai Di Lao is good, the tables are big enough, place is clean (graded A by NEA), staff are chirpy and provides excellent service, food is definitely thumbs up! I was so addicted to it that I went back again after 2 weeks.