At the weekend I gave Haidilao a whirl. You’ve probably seen a few posts on here before about my Chinese hotpot fun and games over in China Town, but this one can be found at Bullring in the old Jamie’s Italian space.
It’s quite a swish set up, with iPads as menus for ordering and a higher end feel to the venue itself. There’s a large choice of meats, seafood and fish, veggies and tofu, plus lots of broths to pick from.
How much it costs is ultimately down to what you order to form your meal from the above, drinks and sides available. Speaking of sides, definitely order the chicken dumplings to get started because they’re absolutely divine.
For the main event we chose two broths (you can have up to 4) and a selection of goodies to cook in them. The meat was great quality (the sirloin slices in particular were very good) and you get a fairly generous amount across the board to cook.
I liked the clear cooking times being available on the table (it’s usually on the menu in my experience; this is much more helpful) and it’s a cute added extra to be given aprons and hair ties should you want them so you don’t end up covered in broth.
Cooking is straight forward and actually rather therapeutic. There’s also a snazzy extras bar where you can stock up on sauces, toppings and seasonings to customise your meal, plus a pretty cool noodle show (happens table side) you can enjoy as a bit of added theatre.
Service is very helpful if not a little relentless at times (we were checked on about 10 times) and I’m still not sure why I was given two large teddies to sit with. Can anyone explain this? While the broths were nice enough there wasn’t much depth of flavour to the chicken and mushroom one and I’d probably stick to the spicier options on a revisit.
It’s all quite polished and slick – you can tell it’s an international chain – but maybe lacks the intimacy and relaxed vibe found in similar China Town restaurants. I guess it’s all down to what you want from your hotpot experience.
A fun way to enjoy a meal with pals; it’s in a great location (if you snag a booth by the windows you get a fab city view) and offers lots of choice. Is it my favourite of those I’ve tried so far? I don’t think so, but it’s enjoyable and accessible making it a good starting point for those new to hotting of pot.
Haidilao, Bullring Shopping Centre, Birmingham, B5 4BU