According to my Chinese friend, the name of Hai Di Lao has gone viral due to the exceptional customer experience it provides. Known for its friendly and extra mile customer service, the outlets are always packed, and while waiting in the queue, customers will be kept entertained in the waiting area. There were apparently, even reports of staff who took it upon themselves to get batteries for customers who ran out of power in their camera. The staff are empowered to make decisions – There were also cases of entire bills being written off due to complaints from unhappy customers.
I was looking forward to it. We travelled via MTR from Hong Kong to Futian Checkpoint. [Hong Kong Line – (interchange walk 3 mins) – Tuen Wan Line – (interchange walk 10 mins) East Rail Line – Lok Ma Chau (Futian Checkpoint)]
While our friend was waiting for us in the Shenzhen outlet at Zhuo Yue Century Mall, he dropped us messages on Wechat to tell us he was already being served snacks, and he was feeling impressed.
I arrived, and was welcomed with their warm hospitality. They gave each one of us a plastic slip-on for our phones, and explained that it will protect our phones since we are close to the soup pots. For ladies, the staff would give a hair rubberbands.
The food was great. Words are not needed..just eat it and you’ll know!
Well I thought I could handle the Sichuan side of the pot on the first mouthful of beef. I was wrong. My tongue went numb on the second try.
There was a “Face Changing” performance while we were having our meal. I was thrilled! I’ve always been intrigued by “Bian Lian 变脸”.
Established since 1994, it now has 88 outlets across 24 cities in China. And its latest foreign editions include one in Singapore, and one in Los Angeles! Their attention to detail, and focus on creating an experiential dining have been their success factor. For example, another thing that impressed me the most was when I went to the toilet. At the hand wash area, you will find towels, mouth rinse, toothbrush, toothpaste and hand cream. A senior lady stations there. After I was done washing my hands, she cheerfully told me, “The air is cold and dry, please put on some hand cream!” (“气候干燥。。涂点润肤膏！”） I would only expect something like that at a 5-star hotel!
Hopefully I’ll get another chance to visit the other outlets in China.. I wonder if it will be the same in Singapore and LA.
Lunch @ 海底捞(Hai Di Lao)
Zhuoyue Century Centre L401-402, Futian, Shenzhen
Price: About $350 RMB for 3
Style: Steamboat/hotpot restaurant
Mood: Local, Lively
Service: Exceptional, Friendly