Sunday, November 29, 2020

From Chai Png to Haidilao


In case readers are not aware, I stopped being frugal when it comes to food quite a while ago. My 20s were basically all about eating chai png and the occasional vegetarian bee hoon breakfast to keep my expenses low but after I became financially independent, I started eating like a normal person again. 

Recently due to COVID-19, I have been eating rather well and as I can't restock Dr. Wealth's pantry after a successful run of my program ( a pre-COVD habit I developed), I decided to buy a meal for the Dr Wealth staff who supported me faithfully during this rally tough period of the business. Furthermore, this is not a personal expense but a business one, with mini-meeting included, I can go all out on the meal budget. Also, the fact that the STI has rallied and I am getting November dividends clearly made the expense negligible.

I've always wanted to eat at Haidilao but somehow could not because my pals do not like eating there when we have gatherings claiming that it is expensive. Instead, I eat at a lot of Mala outlets in Chinatown. 

My curiosity about Haidilao is two-fold :

  • What kind of service and food offering makes it command such a high premium?
  • Is the company worth investing in if we just see it as day to day business?
For the service, there were two points which I liked. I was served drinks and snacks while waiting for the table to prepared. The staff really behaved almost like air stewardesses and even informed me that someone else will take care of us when there was a change of shift. Sadly, I was not able to witness the manicure offerings for the ladies because of COVID-19 measures.

For the food, I can only say that it is generally of high quality. Beyond the iberico pork and sliced beef, the beancurd skin stood out as well as sausages made of flour and mozzarella cheese. Against common sense and warnings from the staff, I chose the most unique spicy beef tallow soup-base, which was not that easy to stomach but the food was really fragrant. I ended up retreating to the tomato and chicken soup base to reduce the pain on my tongue.

Beyond the bells and whistles, was the $75/pax worthwhile? For a business meeting, definitely. But for me, I'd prefer to eat at a cheaper outlet at Chinatown. I can forgo some snacks for a 50% discount on prices. 

But Haidilao may be decent as an investment, the management has systematised great service and have been able to scale it around the world. I can imagine the same business system delivering Swiss Fondue or shabu-shabu to other parts of the world. 

Still, I will convince my family for another meal. But I think no spicy soup base for me the next time round. Spiciness can be delivered via condiments. 


  1. I also stopped being frugal after FI..However, I cook more than I eat out. Compare before FI, now I spend more on fresh ingredients and healthy stuffs

  2. If you have the talent of cooking, you can eat even better !