Address: #04-23/24 313@somerset, 313 Orchard Road
Opening hours: 10.30 am to am
You know this hotpot restaurant takes customer service seriously because you can get your nails done — FOC — at the manicure station (no kidding!) while waiting for a table or your food to arrive, or snack on nuts while flipping through a magazine. Your young ’uns will also have a blast romping around in the padded playroom.
We got a table right away on a weekday afternoon, but you’re advised to book ahead on weekends, as queues can get long. The attentive staff thoroughly fussed over us: One supplied a hair tie, so my tresses wouldn’t get in the way when I spooned up hot broth; another promptly produced a shawl when my colleague looked cold. Worried that soup will splash on your mobile phones? No worries, they even provide mini-Ziplocs for them.
Pick what you want from the iPad menus available at each table — we ordered a double pot of Sichuan spicy and chicken soup ($22) and both were winners. For your protein fix, the beef and lamb platter ($22) is a safe bet, but we adored the perfectly seasoned special ribs ($12) and cumin chicken ($12).
As seafood lovers, we were impressed with the freshness of the platter of prawns, cod, scallops and mussels ($28) we ordered. By the way, when the service staff saw us starting to shell our prawns, little plastic gloves appeared “magically” in front of us.
Pay $4 more per person to enjoy access to the self-service table — which has a spread of more than 20 different condiments, porridge, fruit, plus dessert. The variety and top-notch service can’t be beat, even though it’s pricier than most steamboat restaurants.
Tot-O-MetER: Hai Di Lao clearly goes to great lengths to make the little ones comfy. Besides offering toys and a TV in the cosy playroom, parents can even request that cots be rolled over to their dining table if bubba needs to nap. Go for the chicken soup if you’re dining with little ones — they’ll love the rich and flavourful broth. The super-fresh cod fillets ($14) will also be a hit, and you must order the homemade noodles as your brood will be thoroughly entertained by the noodle specialist who will actually make them at your table before dropping them right into the boiling soup. By the way, your tykes will be charmed by the cute Flower Pot Pudding ($4) dessert — a fluffy mango pudding topped with crushed cookies.