Hai Di Lao 海底捞(Hǎi dǐ lāo)
“High Class Hot Pot”, sort of sounds like a contradiction in terms doesn’t it? Well the staff at the Hai Di Lao chain of hot pot restaurants have found a way to make it work. At their location on the corner of Wei Wu Lu and Jing San Lu (纬五路与经三路Wěi wǔ lù yǔ jīng sān lù) the staff do their best to promote the idea of high class dining. On entering customers are presented with small business cards with the size of the party recorded on it so the servers on the upper floors know where to seat their guests. If however customers are unlucky enough to arrive in the middle of the dinner hour there are a plethora of small waiting tables to sit at while waiting for a free table. Those who are forced to wait are treated to the same level of hospitality as their seated colleagues; every table is set with drinks, menus (so the guests can make their order before being seated) and snacks are provided as well. The focus on quality service and food has attracted a fair amount of notice from Chinese netizens. One common story tells of a customer who complained to a server that the meat was not fresh and the waiter responded “Eat me, I’m fresh”. The positive response to the service at Hai Di Lao also shows itself around dinner time most every day with patient customers spilling out onto the boulevard waiting for their turn to eat. So if you are fancying a night out, head to Hai Di Lao for a great atmosphere and good service, just make sure to arrive early.