It’s all fun and games at this Chinese hotpot chain, but the food is lacking
Hot pot chain Haidilao has over 150 outlets in 51 Chinese cities, with its own network of food factories, distribution centres and even a vegetable plantation. And now it’s finally arrived in Hong Kong’s Yau Ma Tei.
When we arrive, we’re assigned number 35 in the queue with no guarantee of how long our wait will be but we’re soon given snacks and lemon water to keep us entertained, along with playing cards and board games. The attentive waiter also gives us paper and instructions to make an origami swan, explaining that for every swan we successfully make, they’d knock $1 off the bill. We settle in, trying to earn our discount. Staff constantly top up our drinks and hand us hot towels which gets a little tiresome but we appreciate the enthusiasm.
Long after we’ve given up on our pitiful attempts to make paper birds, we’re assigned a booth, with the hot pot induction stove sunk into the middle of the table. The decor is canteen-esque – clean yet clinical with self-serve salad bar stations. Using the iPad menu, we order the pork bone ($69) and mushroom ($69) broths for our hot pot base, along with pak choi ($38), shiitake mushrooms ($38), fried fish skin ($38) and the much-anticipated lo mein hand-pulled noodles ($18).
The mushrooms are robust and earthy, complemented by crunchy and salty fish skin. The broths are disappointing as they’re lacking in seasoning to bring any flavour out, making them quite bland. A bit of a let down for a famous hot pot chain.
Luckily, a noodle maestro soon arrives and wows us with his skills, stretching and tossing the elastic dough masterfully at our tableside. The noodles don’t disappoint - they’re light and fresh and go down a treat. Last up is the sliced beef ($108) which was a little too fatty and the cuttlefish balls ($138) which are a bit too dry.
As we exit the restaurant, we spot a manicure station where diners can nip off for a quick hand massage and nail polish and we can’t help but think it’s another quirky element designed to distract from the disappointing food. Oh well, at least we had fun. Sam Sinha
2/F & 3/F, Kowloon Building
555 Nathan Road
Yau Ma Tei
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sun 10am-midnight|
|Transport:||Exit A1, Yau Ma Tei MTR Station|
|Do you own this business?|