Hot pot is a type of Chinese cuisine that is, quite frankly, entertaining in it’s own right. Between dipping various vegetables and meats in a sizzling pot of broth right at your table, to mixing your own crazy concoction of sauces, and fumbling as you slurp it up with the aid (or hindrance) of chopsticks, there’s plenty to keep your dining party amused.
But there’s a chain of hot pot restaurants in China called Hai Di Lao that’s managed to elevate the experience to whole other level – one where you’ll be pampered with manicures, neck massages, board games, snacks and more as you wait for your table (which you’ll certainly have to do, given the popularity of the place).
In a country where you generally have to holler and flail your arms as if you’re drowning to get the attention of wait staff, Hai Di Lao provides surprisingly over the top service – from the subtle (supplying hair elastics to female diners who are struggling to keep their hair out of the broth) to the dramatic (cooks who will turn a piece of dough into meters of hand-pulled noodles as they twist and twirl it dramatically in the air – right by your table – before dropping it into your broth). Known as gongfu mian (kung-fu noodles), it’s art, cooking, and martial arts all in one. Scroll down to see the video of gongfu mian in the making!
Hai Di Lao Hot Pot is a China-wide chain that’s open 24 hours and offers menus in Chinese and English. Their website is in Chinese only so it’s best to ask around for a location near you.