Haidilao Hot Pot in Glen Waverley opened in the second half of 2020, the same time when most Melburnians were able to experience some freedoms outside of stage 4 COVID-19 lockdown. With COVID-19, opening a new restaurant isn’t a high priority at the moment, but I am glad it has opened and it seems to have flourished. From what I could see, this restaurant is incredibly popular with the locals that it took me about 2 hours before we could get in.
Haidilao Hot Pot seems to pride itself on its service. We were introduced to our attendant, including her name, when we were brought to the table and had everything explained to us politely and calmly. It was apparent (to me at least) that all the employees were very nice to customers and were greeting new customers as they walked to their booth.
The restaurant also seemed to be advanced for a restaurant with robots (not that we could see) and an ‘automatic kitchen’ being employed to make things run more efficiently. This meant that the employees could focus on the customers and their needs.
Haidilao Hot Pot can be hard to find. It is located in the new outdoor food precinct at the Glen Shopping Centre. To find it, you just need to go up the stairs adjacent to Gami and you should be able to see it.
Before you can get in to eat, you need to take a ticket from the main counter. It’s all done by machine. You need to input how many people are in your group and you will be assigned a ticket. With the ticket on hand, you can scan the QR code to check your standing in the queue (or you can check the screen showing which tickets are being served). I found the screen showing which ticket was being served to be in accurate. Unfortunately, we ended up waiting two hours before we could get in. I think the manager took note of it and provided us a free jug of plum juice ($10.50) for our table. It was a nice gesture. Also, they gave us a toy, which looked like a Matryoshka doll with a bell inside, for our baby. (With these perks, all was forgiven for the long two hour wait.)
In addition, Haidilao had popcorn cups, biscuit treats and water on offer for customers waiting for their turn. Something that I haven’t seen before at other Chinese establishments.
Before you can start ordering, you need to select your soup broth. You can select one large pot for $35.90, two medium pots for $16.90 each or four small pots for $9.90 each. You can also choose a water based broth for $0.00 (which is literally water with some floating pieces of diced daikon). We choose three soups, the pork and chicken base, mushroom and tomato soups and the last one was just water. I think their popular soups are their spicy soups, but the company I was with for dinner were not a fan of spicy flavors. (Maybe next time I will try the spicy soups.)
After selecting the soups, I proceeded to choose the food we wanted to eat and cook. That’s right, cook. You have to cook the food in your choice of soup and you want to cook it properly if you want to enjoy what you are eating. You can choose from a variety of meats, beef, chicken, lamb and pork, vegetables and other hot pot favorites like tofu, bean curd, noodles, etc. As you can see from the menu, a lot of the meat dishes are around AUD$15.00, while the vegetable and other dishes are around AUD$10.00.
Along with the food, you are also charged $4.90 per person to use the sauce station. The sauce station is where you can create your own choice of sauces. If you don’t know what sauce you want to make, there is a sauce guide to help you, e.g. it teaches you how to make the Haidilao Sauce. Obviously, you should stick to what you like and I recommend taking a bit of each sauce, taking it back to your table, and then coming back to mix the ones you like together. For whatever reason, I loved their crispy chickpeas and had it in all my sauces for the extra crunch factor.
The sauce station also houses salads (such as Chinese coleslaw, glass noodles and picked daikon), fruits (watermelon, rock melon, etc) and desserts like black rice porridge (but it is so bland, that I regretted taking more than I wanted. I wish they had more tastier desserts.)
By the time we finished, we were incredibly full. With nothing else to munch on, I enjoyed some of the soups and found them to be very flavorsome. Out of the ones we picked, I liked the mushroom soup the most, but the tomato soup packed the most tomato-y flavor. The pork and chicken soup was okay.
For two people, we ended up spending AUD$110.00 and we had a free jug of plum juice. (The plum juice was very sweet, and so worth the price we paid!) In the end, a quarter of the fees went to the soups and the sauce station. I realised that four and even six people had the same soup setup as us. I think the value proposition works better in bigger numbers, as long as you don’t mind the sharing.
I visited on 6 February 2021 and also 13 November 2021. On our second stint, we had more people around the table. (It was a tad squishy.) The service was still excellent. We had our water glasses filled constantly and our every needs met. My friend noted that in the bathroom, they had Japanese toilets and Listerine, yes, the mouth wash Listerine. (You can literally wash your mouth in their bathroom thanks to plastic cups and other stuff for you to use.)
Also, stir clear from the chili soup. It is so spicy that I almost died the next day because it didn’t go down well.
If you get the desserts, it’s so tasteless unless you add sugar. Once you add sugar to both their desserts, both of them actually taste quite nice.
Haidilao Hot Pot is located at the Glen Shopping Centre, 235 Springvale Rd, Glen Waverley VIC 3150 (and the second floor of the outdoor food precinct; you can see the precinct if you are walking from Kingsway):
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