]Updated Apr 2015] After Hai Di Lao 海底捞火锅 opened at Orchard 313@Somerset replacing mega CD store HMV (passing of an era where hotpot is in and CD is out), they will establish their 3rd in Singapore at Jurong IMM. Their first outlet is at Clarke Quay).
The queues are long, and the usual waiting applies. So tip of the day: Reserve before going down. (+65 68357227, +65 68357337)
Customers can still read magazines, have some fruits, nuts and drinks, play games or sign up for a manicure session while waiting for your turn. Any guys tried that? Maybe I should next time, just to see how they react.
After all, service is their number 1 priority. The service staff fusses over you – refills your drinks quite quickly, give you plastic covers to protect your mobile, and helps you with food recommendations. You ask, they give it to you.
As my ‘kan-tan’ friend struggles to speak to a waitress in half-past-six Mandarin, she said “Emm, I can speak English.” Fairy accurate, and non of the ‘LuLu’ accent. Don’t play play, don’t stereotype okay?
If you are a first timer to Hai Di Lao, here are some steps to navigate your way.
Step 1 – Choose soup bases: Soup bases which include Chicken Soup, Seafood, Tomato, Mushroom, Sichuan Spicy, and Laksa.
The chicken soup has very faint herbal nutritious taste, cooked with black chicken, wolfberry, and Chinese dates. I would recommend this because it is light enough to bring out the flavours of the ingredients such as the meats.
My table had the laksa too. While tasting ‘Prima-Delish’ at the start, the soup grows on you and becomes my favourite. Vegetables, mushrooms, tofu and quail eggs will work with this soup base.
Step 2 – Choose food ingredients: Specialty dishes include homemade tofu pudding (made with soybean mik), duck gizzards, crispy meat (streaky pork with egg and starch deep fried), beef tripe, tender chicken (uses thigh meat therefore more tender), and Hai Di Lao style beef (I wonder how much tenderizer is used because those slices stay tender after a long while.)
Step 3 – Pick the balls: Don’t leave Hai Di Lao without the specialty balls, especially the ‘Urinating Beef Balls’ that supposedly squirts out with juice in the middle. Cook them for 3- 5 minutes, not too long. The handmade cuttlefish cakes, and mashed shrimp are also delicious.
Step 4 – Take the sauces: Almost buffet style, there is a whole lot which includes sesame paste, specially made chili, seafood sauce, beef sauce, mushroom sauce, peanuts, hoisin, Korean paste… I say dump them in the same bowl and mix (it may look gross). If not, just take the special chili sauce and seafood paste.
Step 5 – Homemade noodles: Noodles made acrobatic style on the spot. There is only one guy going around this Clarke Quay branch, so you have to wait.
Comparatively, this 2nd branch of Hai Di Lao is more convenient to access, and has a different décor all together – more gold which makes it look more ‘China’.
We paid about $40 per person. Gladly pay for more because this is one of the few steamboat restaurants that don’t leave me with an MSG-thirst and headache.
If service at the Clarke Quay branch was an 8.8 out of 10, this is a 7.9. There, but not as impressive because they seemed short-handed in staff. Food quality remains, but I remember there was more ‘magic’ during my first visit.
Hai Di Lao 313@Somerset
Level 4, 313@Somerset, 313 Orchard Road (Somerset MRT)
Tel: +65 68357227, 68357337
Opening Hours: 10am – 4am