Steamboat: Hai Di Lao Hot Pot

Friends have been raving about this steamboat chain but somehow we never got round to trying it. Finally I went to the IMM outlet with my ex-neighbours to celebrate their birthdays, and I’ll definitely bring the kids the next round.

I’ve heard how great the service is. They provide waiting customers with manicures, fruits and popcorn.

A manicure? Sounds bizarre. I didn’t fancy having my nails done while fishing out morsels of food from the pot.

Well, the average waiting time during the dinner hour is about 2 to 3 hours. Ah, I get it. Free manicure while waiting for dinner. Sounds like the perfect place for a mummies’ night out. Efficient.

Hai Di Lao Steamboat

We did not get to have a manicure as we arrived at 10pm for supper. I had forgotten about a dinner meeting so since we were all prepped for it, decided to push it back to supper instead.

Soup base

The good service was apparent from the time you are seated as the waiter offers you a ziplock bag for your phone and special wet wipes to clean your spectacle lenses! Feels kind of pampered.

We went for the popular tomato soup base and the chicken soup. Both were not bad.

Beef slices $18

Ordered the usual like beef and pork slices, fish and tofu. Everything was fresh and well presented.


What I really enjoyed was the Handmade mashed shrimp ($16) that came wrapped in a plastic bag. We ignorantly attempted to squeeze it into the soup, and it became little stringy worms. We gave up and asked the waiter for assistance, and he deftly sliced them gently into the pot. They cooked perfectly  into little prawn dollops. Definitely my favourite dish here!

The other dish I also enjoyed was the handmade noodles. You only need to cook it for a minute and it comes out nice and chewy.

The kids will most certainly be entertained by the amazing noodle demonstration. He is so skilled that he is able to ‘throw’ the long string of noodles inches from your nose. We joked with him and he entertained us with more of his deft strokes. Our waiter mentioned that he was a former martial arts expert. Not sure if he was pulling our leg, but I wouldn’t be surprised!

Noodles ($4 per portion)
This place is slightly more pricey than other steamboat places, but the service and freshness of the food makes up for it. We had the above dishes with some other side dishes and it set us back $45 each.

Before I got round to posting this review, I was back, with the kids and grandparents for a nice dinner to round off the September holidays. This time, we got to experience their pre-dinner service.

As it was the weekend, I thought we could beat the queue by reaching at 5pm. Guess it wasn’t early enough. They gave us a queue number and would give us a call once our table was ready.

The kids were highly amused that there was FREE food while waiting. Prawn crackers, banana crisps, and fruits. Kate filled herself with it, got up and declared, “Ok, I’m done. Let’s go home.”

Pre-meal waiting area

We didn’t bother queueing for the manicure as we thought it would take too long. On hindsight, we really should have, as we waited 2 hours for our table!

My parents were getting really cranky and wanted to leave. The kids decided to give it 15 more minutes since we have already waited so long.

In the end, my parents were appeased by the good service of the wait staff who served us. She gave us aprons and even helped Kate don hers. She handed out the handphone covers and hair ties for my girls with long hair. Whilst waiting for the soup to boil, she brought over a plate of fruits.

She asked if we wanted the prawns peeled and seafood shelled, and did all of that before cooking it in the hotpot for us. She then proceeded to scoop us each a bowl of soup.

I’m not sure if the remarkable service was standard, or because my folks made a fuss, but the kids had a thoroughly enjoyable meal, and commented, “The lady is so nice. And she doesn’t stop smiling!”

Talk about excellent service.

Mini playroom

After a satisfying meal, my mum said that the only thing lacking was entertainment for kids which would have made the waiting more bearable for Kate.

#2 pointed out, “There was a playroom right next to the manicure booth. Didn’t you guys see it? I thought it was so small that you didn’t bother putting Kate in.”

Ah well. Next time then. The kids are already saying that they want to come back for the noodles and shrimp dumpling.

As we left, the kids spotted a fridge at the entrance with free ice-cream to end the throughly enjoyable meal. And popcorn in sealed cups to take along. Sweet.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

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