Alden Boon

Hai Di Lao Hot Pot: An Upscale Restaurant That’s Earned Its Price Point

25/10/2015

Mention steamboat restaurant and the thought of mosquitoes flitting from ingredient to ingredient, and death traps in the form of slimey oysters strewn on a slippery floor conjures to mind. But Hai Di Lao Hot Pot, a restaurant that doles out Sichuan-style hot pots, bucks this trend. Opulence and sublimity are the hallmarks of this stalwart. The bill adds up quickly, but the dining experience is worth every cent.

The visceral pleasure is immediate. The sophisticated grandeur of the interior recalls that splendid feeling of stepping into a luxury hotel. At Hai Di Lao, what eclipses the exceptional food is the first-rate service. The waitresses are only eager to flash not perfunctory but megawatt smiles. After you’re seated, they will hand out hot towels  — and will continue to do so throughout the course of the meal. Ziploc bags are also readily furnished to protect your precious phones. How thoughtful is that?

Knowledgeable and quick to dispense advice on the food, the waitresses are always ready to meet your every whimsical request. They will even help immerse the ingredients into the simmering pot, and any unctuous layer of foamy scum does not go unnoticed by them.

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Hai Di Lao’s moniker paints the imagery of scooping treasures from the deep sea. Of course, you’re not going to find pigs or cows or mushrooms  in the depths of the sea, but the name hints at the superb freshness of the ingredients. Its calling cards are the moreish, invigorating soup bases. Look at the copious spices and high-quality soup-base ingredients: it’s obvious Hai Di Lao does not cut corners.

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Tackling the piquant Sichuan Mala broth requires an almost military-precise acuity. Tread carefully — as if you’re navigating a minefield: just a bite of the peppercorns numbs your entire tongue. If not vigilant, the searing hotness could trigger a choking episode! The Herbal Chicken soup base brims with flavours. Start off with hunks of yam: when they’re cooked through and through they are just wonderfully soft and delectably sweet.

At Hai Di Lao, you don’t get up to go to an open counter laid with a multitude of ingredients — because what are we? Cavemen out to forage for food? No. The tantalising ingredients come to you. The plating is too exquisite. So artful it is that it’s almost a pity to pull them out and have the rest of the sliced meats fall like tumbling Jenga blocks.

Almost. The meats must be savoured!

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The marbling is just beautiful, isn’t it?

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The Soon Hock fish is thinly-sliced and boasts a freshwater taste.

Hai Di Lao offers a smorgasbord of ingredients, from black angus beef to pig’s intestines, mutton to duck gizzards as well as an assortment of mushrooms to handmade cuttlefish cakes and beef balls. Order the noodles and a young master will present a spectacle of dough swinging and flinging — the dough swirls and zips right above your head!

Tip: Plan ahead and have everyone in your posse take time off. Make a beeline for the restaurant on a weekday morning — you won’t have to wait ridiculous hours for your food!

Address

Clarke Quay Outlet

Address: 02-04, 3D River Valley Road, 179023, Singapore
Telephone: 6337 8627
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun 10:30 am – 3:00 am

[email protected] Outlet

Address: #04-23/24, 313 Orchard Road, Singapore 238895
Telephone: 6835 7227 / 6835 7337
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun 10am to 10pm

IMM Building

Address: 2 Jurong East Street 21 609601
Telephone: 6896 4111 / 6896 4222

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.

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