Haidilao became a household name when it first opened its stores in Singapore in 2012. Since then, the hotpot fever has quickly taken over Singapore, with at least 6 major Chinese hotpot chains having opened their stores onshore since.
Despite being renowed for its service, Haidilao is also equally well-known for its premium pricing.
Since hotpot is a cuisine that is easily replicated at home, we find out how the cost differences stack up and if it’s worth paying for the ‘Haidilao’ experience in the restaurant compared to replicating it yourself at home.
PROS OF DIY HAIDILAO
COST SAVINGS ON BASE INGREDIENTS
Here are common ingredients people usually order for hotpot gatherings. Supermarket prices are taken off NTUC Fairprice online and is accurate at the time of publishing.
|Soup||Haidilao Soup Base||$3.95 (200g)||From $18 (single flavour)|
|Soup Stock||$1.30 (250ml)||–|
|Meat||Pork Belly Sukiyaki||$7.70 (400g)||$17|
|Pork Collar Shabu Shabu||$7.70 (400g)||$14|
|Beef Shabu Shabu||$6.00 (300g)||$24|
|Lamb Shabu Shabu||$10.95 (400g)||$20|
|Chicken Cheese Meatballs||$3.80 (200g)||$14|
|Pork Balls||$1.95 (200g)||$14|
|Noodles and Rice||Sweet Potato Noodle||$3.95 (500g)||$8|
|Rice Vermicelli||$1.20 (400g)||$6|
|Beancurd and Tofu||Pork and Chives Dumpling||$4.70 (400g)||$8|
|Fried Beancurd Puff||$2.50 (110g)||$13|
|Silken Tofu||$0.85 (300g)||$6|
|Vegetables||Beijing Cabbage||$1.00 (600g)||$8|
|White Radish||$2.50 (1 piece)||$4|
|Enoki Mushrooms||$1.35 (300g)||$11|
|King Oyster Mushroom||$2.00 (250g)||$10|
|Oyster Mushrooms||$1.10 (100g)||$6|
|Others||Cooked Quail Eggs||$2.50 (15 eggs)||$12|
On first look, having the famous steamboat in-house costs at least 3 times more expensive, based on the cost of ingredients alone. However, there are a few things to note in our calculations.
The cost for the ingredients at Haidilao are full portion costs. There is an option to order half portions at half the cost price.
That said, the portion of the ingredients bought from the supermarket is usually more than enough to cover the size of a full portion served at the restaurant.
While the soup broth at the restaurant is re-fillable, the soup broth at home is normally topped up with soup stock. This becomes a varying expense if you DIY Haidilao at home, especially with a larger crowd.
Arguably, the varying cost for re-filling the soup stock is negligible since the cost difference between the restaurant’s soup base and the DIY soup base allows for up to 9 cups worth of soup stock refills at home.
FLEXIBILITY IN CHOOSING INGREDIENTS
DIY Haidilao offers you the flexibility of choosing unconventional food ingredients beyond what is offered at the restaurant. For example, you can opt for quinoa noodles or even brown rice noodles if you want a healthier option.
SAVE ON SERVICE CHARGE AND WAITING TIME
Dining at the restaurant may be convenient but also comes with additional costs.
The total bill would be subject to service charge. If you choose to dine in during peak hours, there could also be long waiting times of around 2 hours.
CONS OF DIY HAIDILAO
ADDITIONAL COST OF CONDIMENTS
|Black Vinegar||$1.80 (635g)||$4 per pax|
|Sesame Oil||$4.50 (320ml)|
|Sesame Sauce||$4.90 (210ml)|
|Chilli Padi||$0.95 (100g)|
|Chilli In Oil||$2.00 (210g)|
|Chopped Garlic||$3.40 (250g)|
|Spring Onions||$1.40 (100g)|
|Chinese Parsley||$0.90 (50g)|
The cost of condiments would be something you have to account for when you DIY Haidilao at home. At the restaurant, you pay a flat $4 for access to 25 different ingredients for you to create your own dipping sauce.
Based on the table above, the cost of common condiments quickly adds up, although the price can be divided among the number of persons eating.
Apart from fresh condiments like spring onions, garlic and parsley, most of the condiments also come in relatively large-sized containers and can be kept for use over future hotpot meals.
If you do not have an appliance to re-create the DIY Haidilao experience, you would have to invest in one.
As an example, the Morries 3-in-1 hotpot cooker stands at about $29.90.
If you like to vary your hotpot style, a Mookata cooker from the same brand goes at $109.90.
Additionally, ladles, soup spoons and bowls need to be purchased if you don’t have any at home.
IS THE HAIDILAO 'EXPERIENCE' WORTH IT?
Unfortunately, DIY Haidilao does not allow you to re-create certain Haidilao ‘experiences’ such as the free manicure service offered by the restaurant.
You also cannot enjoy ingredients unique to the restaurant.
Examples include speciality and fresh ingredients such as the signature mashed shrimp paste, and the hand-pulled noodles complete with theatrics from the in-house staff.
If you dine-in at the restaurant, you also get free flow of side dishes and desserts, such as fruit platters, ice cream, milk curds and more.
On top of that, you will be waited on by attentive and watchful service staff, who prioritise your convenience and comfort and offer you hair ties and phone screen protectors to optimise your dining experience.
So, is Haidilao worth it at about 3 times the cost of DIY Haidilao? This depends on how much you value the service and convenience offered at dining in the restaurant.
Alternatively, an in-between option would be to order Haidilao delivery, where you enjoy the convenience of the famous hotpot chain in the comforts of your own home.
This article was first published in Dollars and Sense.