Photo courtesy of Haidilao Hot Pot
Pre-dinner Pampering at Haidilao Hot PotHaidilao is just as famous for what happens before dinner—those waiting for a table get free snacks and drinks, complimentary manicures, and their shoes shined, as well as access to board games and toys—as for the Sichuan hot pot it serves. With 70-plus restaurants across the country and more than a dozen in Beijing, Haidilao is built on service, from the friendly wait staff to the energetic table-side noodle pullers. Grab a seat, put on a bib and order a broth, the options ranging from tomato to chicken to spicy Sichuan. Then pick and choose from a hundred or so ingredients to dip into those murky depths, including meats, veggies, and tofu. And don't forget to hit the sauce station to make your own dipping formula with items such as sesame oil, soy sauce, diced garlic, and chili paste. Haidilao is one of the most-loved chains in Beijing. Given that, prepare to wait for a table. But, unlike at most places, you are likely to enjoy the delay.