HAI DI LAO HOTPOT 海底撈
No. 12 Songshou Road, 6F
MRT: Taipei 101
$$$ (NT$1000+ per person)
website: Haidilao's FB page
kid friendliness: lively atmosphere, with lots of selection and lighter broth options. small kids room in front for pre or post meal waiting
visit reviewed: 5/9/2016
HaiDiLao is a popular hotpot chain from China that opened up its first Taiwan branch last September. I first heard of it when I saw videos of their noodle dancers (yes, dancing noodle makers) on instagram and four square'd hotspots. Hearing about the long lines from a friend who was a regular of theirs in China and had waited hours to dine at the Taiwan branch, I finally had a chance to check it out along with a travel writer in town who scored reservations.
Reservations are usually taken on the first of every month for the following month, but I still saw a crowd of people waiting at the entrance for seats. But unlike many restaurants that make you wait, HaiDiLao provides lots of services to distract you- complimentary manicures, massage chairs, a small playroom for kids, and even a costumed dancer. With this concept, Haidilao has opened over 100 branches around the world, including in Los Angeles, Seoul and Singapore.
Manicure station near the front of the restaurant.
Once you're seated, you're given an iPad to order from. They have English and Chinese available, as well as a photo for each menu item. I was a bit confused about how to order things, but the waitress was very helpful in showing how to use the iPad as well as making suggestions for a first time visit. First you choose your soup base- you can opt for one, two or four broths. There's a Delicacy broth (chicken/pork broth), Sichuan spicy broth, tomato broth and mushroom broth, as well as a fish and kelp broth that we didn't choose. Adding each broth has a charge of NT$105-120 per broth.
Half orders are available, which is great if you want to try different things when dining alone or with only one other person, and there's quite a range of choices for meats, seafood, tofu, veggies and offal. I've included the complete iPad menu for Haidilao Taipei at the bottom of the post. We were handed aprons, eye glasses cleaners and was even given a small blanket to use when we asked the server about the chilly air conditioning.
After the hotpot gets bubbling and you've "sent" your order in, plates of veggies and meat start arriving to the table. Veggies combo (NT$288)
The menu is equally dizzying with choices. I was happy with what we ordered, though next time I would like to come with more friends to try more meats and dishes. The server cooked some of the things for us in the beginning, but then we were left to fend for ourselves as new tables came in. She piped in the fresh shrimp and cooked the beef and tofu.
Mashed shrimps (NT$180 for half order) I expected this to taste like fish balls, but it tasted like fresh shrimps. Would order this again.
Lao tofu (NT$95)
Lu rou fan (braised pork rice)
Scallops (half order) NT$160
And the taste of the noodles were good! Quite bouncy and chewy. Especially with the perfect sauces you've concocted. See the noodle guy in action on my instagram video.
All in all, I would come back to HaiDiLao and so I recommend it to you. When Haidilao first opened in Taipei, the waits were as intense as the meal, in the four hour plus range. I had reservations, so I don't know what wait times are like now, but I would say this is about a one hour wait meal, tops, especially with so many hotpot spots in town. Of course, this is the only one with a guy that will hand pull noodles and dance for you at the same time. How long would you wait for HaiDiLao in Taipei?
HaiDiLao Taipei's menu