I was really excited to try out Hai Di Lao as it is a very famous steamboat restaurant chain in China, highly-raved for their bespoked service and quality ingredients for their customers. Read on to find out more!
I was here at 5pm, on a Saturday night and only got a table at 7! Fret not though, waiting has never been this “fun”. With a huge waiting area, tables and chairs are provided for customers and refreshments are free-flow (see picture below). Also, if you read the Chinese words on the table carefully, should you and your group folds a total of 30 cranes, a dish of vegetables/mushroom worth $6 will be complementary for your table. Service staff are around to show you how to fold the cranes, should you need some refresher’s course!
Watermelon, longan, popcorn and plum drinks are provided free for all waiting in line.
Surprised to see a nail salon? Yep, FREE express manicure for ladies! As this highly popular among diners (for obvious reasons), I was on waiting list and only got my nails done after my meal. I was lucky that they called me up right after my dinner so I didn’t have to forego my slot and take a later one!
Leisure room for kids! Bet they can keep themselves entertained throughout the wait with the TV and toys.
iPad menu that was navigated with much difficulty as there were many items not found in the hardcopy menu provided at the waiting area. Also, switch the language from Chinese to English if you find yourself taking too much time to decipher the Chinese characters! 😛
One thing great about having steamboat at Hai Di Lao is that you are able to order half portions for most, if not all dishes. Halved portions equate to half the price!
Aprons to protect your clothings and a cover will be placed on your bags! Very considerate of the restaurant.
Soy-bean milk ($3, refillable) – I loved it as it was pure, homemade soy bean milk with minimum amount of sugar. My friend hated it though.
Lots of sauces you can play with. I recommend mixing oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame paste, korean chilli paste, thai chilli sauce, sesame sauce and spring onions! My sauce was the favorite of the night! 😛 Free fruits and Laoban-like pudding were provided too.
Seafood Soup & Mushroom Soup ($18)- I preferred the Seafood soup as it was very flavourful and peppery. We actually found mussels, clams and prawns inside! Before the dishes are brought out, the waiter will distribute the soup with a sprinkle of spring onions in each bowl, as we are supposed to taste the ‘purity’ and ‘essence’ of the soup before throwing in everything else you’ve ordered!
Steamed and Fried Mantou Buns w Condensed Milk ($4) – Mantou with condensed milk is a killer combination I tell you. I would have finished all the 6 buns if not for the steamboat! Also, you rarely get bad mantous in China-Chinese restaurants – it’s a staple.
Sliced Black Pig ($12) – With the right amount of fats and marbling, these pork slices were really yummy and chewy. Very reasonable pricing too, for what I suppose here is Kurobuta Pork!
Red Tilapia ($16) – No doubt fresh, but I had a really bad time picking out those fish bones. I would recommend Sliced Fish instead, which I believe have been deboned.
Oyster Mushroom (Half portion, $3); Black Fungus (Half portion, $3); Golden Mushroom (Half portion, $3); Fishballs (Half portion, $4) – As you can see, half portions are already very substantial for a table of 4. Thumbs up for their bouncy/springy/QQ fishballs!
Platter of Soy Products ($16) – I like how Hai Di Lao come up platters in their menu, which have a little of everything, and you don’t have to order them separately. Anyway, I loved everything in this platter [Silky Tofu, Firm Tofu, Vermicelli, Black Fungus, Rice Cake, Soft Taukee, Fried Taukee]- I swear they know my favourite steamboat ingredients!
Meat & Chives Dumpling ($8) – These plump dumplings are delicious! Very juicy and tender fillings, with a distinct taste of sesame oil in the meat.
Shou La Mian ($3) – Literally 手拉面! When I ordered this, I thought the noodles were prepared beforehand and served to us on a plate but the chef actually went from table to table to perform his noodle-trick! Do order this if you’re there, as this is unique to Hai Di Lao. The end product is a very bouncy/springy/QQ la mian!
Special Fruit Platter for my table as we were celebrating a friend’s birthday! Again, I can’t emphasise enough the excellent service provided by the staff. Very impressive I must say.
Whenever I’m craving for steamboat, I’ll definitely think of Hai Di Lao (how strong can their marketing get?). To top everything off, each table has a dedicated staff who will attend to all your needs and queries. Now, can all other restaurants learn some tricks from Hai Di Lao?
Hai Di Lao
3D River Valley Road
#02-04 Clarke Quay