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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Dinner at Hai Di Lao Steamboat Restaurant ( 海底捞火锅)

There are two outlets, the flagship being at Clarke Quay. We visited the one at:-
313 Orchard Road #04-23 / 24, 313@Somerset, Singapore 238895
Tel: 6835 7227

Having heard many good things about Hai Di Lao Steamboat Restaurant, the extremely long queues, and the complimentary manicure services while waiting, *Charmaine and I decided to give it a try, and satiate her steamboat cravings.  Note that Hai Di Lao is an ala carte steamboat restaurant and not a buffet concept. They have a very wide variety of quality meats, seafood, vegetables and other unique items (cooked and uncooked) to suit every individual's unique preferences.

We got there at 7.00pm, took a queue number, and were informed that there would be an hour's waiting time. So we killed time shopping and then settling down upon one of the tiny tables set up outside for patrons to await their turn. Fret not that one would be bored, hungry or thirsty to death - because there's servings of fruits, popcorn and herbal tea for the taking.

Hai Di Lao has a rather sleek interior complete with artificial trees and crystal chandeliers, extending an elegant, warm welcome into the embrace of comfortable seatings and impeccable seats. When we were seated, the servers came over immediately to offer menus, drinks (plum tea for me) and warm towels.

We chose our soup base, and they brought over chargers for our mobile phones! I'd say the tables are of a rather good size as well.

So, besides the polite and warm hospitality, warm towels, mobile phone chargers, they were thoughtful enough to cover our bags up with cloth and our mobile phones with plastic sheets so that the soup would not dirty any of our belongings. Orders are made using an electronic tablet - wowee, for an ala carte steamboat restaurant.

*Charmaine and I ordered a Chicken Soup Hot Pot (which had a delicious herbal flavor, cooked with black chicken, mushrooms and fishballs) and the Spicy Szechuan Hot Pot (ma la - which we were asked if we wanted very spicy, medium or light - it was palatable!), so that we'd have a balance of flavors. They helped us ladle the soup so we didn't have to do it ourselves.

We started with some Black Pork slices- tender, scrumptious and thin slices of sweet-tasting sweet pork, going especially well in the spicy soup base.  We had ordered the full portion for this, so the helpful waitress came over and suggested that since there were two of us, we might want to order the half portions so that we could try more things and not have to leave any food wasted at the end of the meal. That was rather commendable.

This is the photo of one of the service crew who came over to help us ladle our soup (they do it throughout the meal!). Even when they refill water for the soup with kettles, they'd use their palms as shields against any droplets of soup that mgiht spring up from the impact and splatter onto us.

They also have a huge array of different-flavored sauces and dips that one could help themselves to (SGD$4.00 per pax). If one wants fruits or desserts, feel free to grab as well. We did not take any because our spicy soup was already giving us all the flavors we needed for our food.

We also had some Wagyu Beef slices and Golden Mushrooms - the beef of which was succulent and tantalizing, while the golden mushroom is a must-have for any decent steamboat meal.

Both of us love Cod Fish, so the cod fish slices were must-haves. While we'd dipped all the others in the spicy pot for flavoring, we did not want to spoil the natural fresh sweetness of cod, and we put this in the clear chicken soup pot. Loved this so much we ordered a second helping - melted in the mouth in its buttery deliciousness.

The Scallops were huge, juicy and simply marvelous - having these plump darlings rolling about in the mouths was simply a real treat.

We also had some slices of Tofu Skin - I thought I was the only one who loved these crispy soy-made products. This was refreshing and a first for me, to eat this during steamboat.

No one should eat steamboat without vegetables (leafy greens!) - my philosophy, so we ordered a cute pot of Crown Daisy (more commonly known as "Tung Ho") - some lush, thick and juicy vegetables. This, we also tossed into the chicken soup base to preserve its crisp freshness.

The Assortment of Mashed Meat looked interesting in their colorful forms, so we tried a platter. I believe its shrimp paste, fish paste and other seafood or meat paste. The service crew rolled them into balls with scoop spoons and helped us toss them into the hot pots.

This is the Ramen Chef who goes to every table that orders La Mian and performs his swishing and twirling and pulling of flour into long strips of noodles, amazingly. I'd seen the act many times throughout the night, at different tables.

After a filling and very sumptuous meal made more so by the impeccable service, *Charmaine and I headed for the manicure booth to get our nails done - we'd written down our numbers way before the meal started, and just nice the queue cleared and it was our turn when we left our dinner table.

It was an express manicure and complimentary, but the manicurists were very amicable and professional. I selected a glittery dark greenish-gold shade. They were saying, as long as we wrote our names and numbers down, and were customers of Hai Di Lao, we could always come back another day for the manicure if we did not get to do it tonight itself - they open until 12.00a.m. (midnight) by the way, while the restaurant operates till 4.00 a.m. in the wee hours of morning!

They also have a mini playroom for children to entertain themselves in so that the parents could queue or dine in peace! This is truly a very amazing place with great, thoughtful service and lovely food. *Charmaine and I each spent SGD$53.00 and left the place feeling very satisfied.

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