Restaurant: Hai Di Lao Hot Pot
Location: 400 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007. (626) 445-7232
Date: September 7 & 20, 2015
Cuisine: Chinese Hot Pot
Rating: Very solid hot pot with good ingredients
I’ve been eating Shabu Shabu for decades, but it was only about 7 years ago on a trip to China that I realized it was actually a food derived from China. True, the Japanese put their own wonderful spin on nearly any food type they incorporate, but they picked it up while “visiting” in Northern China during the war and toned down the spice.
Hai Di Lao is a hugely popular Chinese hot pot chain that has moved to America.
And it’s located in the middle of the food area of Arcadia’s Westfield mall!
The menu is extensive. Not as huge as Hot Pot Hot Pot, but certainly big enough. They are also so modern that you order from ipads at the table!
The interior is updated and contemporary Chinese.
It was busy too, even at 5pm!
A great feature here, and an area in which the bargain Hot Pot Hot Pot totally fails at is the sauce bar. They have this HUGE bar where you can build your own sauce concoctions. Plus there are various cold appetizer ingredients there too.
Row after row of different sauce components.
And even more, including the giant vat of garlic!
And there were four of these helpful cards providing suggestions for those who aren’t sauce experts.
Amuse. These skewers of indeterminate yellow stuff came with the meal. They had a bit of crunch too them. I think it was some turnips and the like.
2011 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #10. JG 92. The contributing parcels are Ferbert and Gertzgrub, mid and low slope, and of course Schaefers knew and could show me on the satellite map. We’re sleeker now, but again this tumbling swelling into an absurdity of mineral nuance and lip-licking saltiness; a doctoral thesis in slate.
agavin: great with the heat.
Above were some of our sauce concoctions.
I also made this spicy mung bean jelly. Yum!
Mushroom broth. With enoki, shiitake, and cloud ear mushrooms. Another huge win at HDL is that everyone has an individual Hot Pot. One of my problems at some other places is sharing a big hot pot with 10 people. This was a nice light mild broth.
Spicy Szechuan Broth. I got this one. Szechuan spicy oil and ginger with garlic. Spicy and also a little numbing. Awesome stuff, basically the same chili oil / numbing heat as a “fish filets boiled in chili oil” Szechuan dish. Really had a lot of flavor even on its own without the sauces.
Shrimp. These large shrimp had to be pulled out of the pot quickly, but they were good.
Nice fresh scallops on ice.
The lobster seafood combo. Salmon, scallops, shrimp, lobster, and orange clam.
A selection of meat balls. Some meat, some fish. I liked them all.
2004 Saxum Syrah Broken Stones. Parker 92-95. Exquisite from the barrel, the opaque ruby/purple-colored 2004 Broken Stones (75% Syrah and 25% Grenache) exhibits crisp underlying acidity, a sweet perfume of raspberries, blackberries, garrigue, pepper, and spice box, full body, and tremendous length, richness, and balance. It should easily age for 12+ years. I highly recommend that wine enthusiasts who love Rhone Ranger wines pay a visit to the James Berry Vineyard, one of the true grand cru sites in the region.
agavin: a monster, and quiet nice once the heat of the food had settled down.
Marinated beef tenderloin. Lean beef marinated with Korean chili. Good stuff, although not like you could taste the chili after it was boiled in my chili oil and drowned in my super strong hot sauce mix 🙂
Angus Rib Eye. I think. Had to remember which meat we ordered. This was one of our favorites.
Beef Short rib. More yummy meat.
Lamb shoulder. Awesome and tender. These aren’t super frozen like the ones at Hot Pot Hot Pot, which is a good thing.
Spam. Delicious. You mock it, but it’s great in the pot.
Crispy pork sausage. These delicious little Frankenfurters open up like squid flowers in the heat.
Mixed vegetable combo. Obvious enough.
Mixed Mushroom combo. Good stuff.
Soft tofu. I love the texture here. With the spicy sauce it was like Ma Po.
Made with wheat, egg, and flour. The noodle dancer comes to your table and stretches the noodle in a pretty amazing display of noodle power.
The hand pulled noodle goes right into the pot. In this sauce, it was fine on it’s own after 2 minutes.
Mango pudding. “Free” dessert. Cool and hit the spot.
And some more, fresh fruit.
We liked HDL. In fact, I thought it was much better than Hot Pot Hot Pot, which while good, was kind of a zoo of cheap prices. The advantages here are solid ingredient quality, great broth choices, the amazing sauce bar (HPHP sauces were lame, and the sauce is very important), and individual pots. The individual pot is key. Sharing all the ingredients is fun, but when you have 8-10 people in one pot you don’t really control what you cook, how long, or that you even get it. Plus it’s a little gross.