Virgin HDL Experience

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I had always been wanting to try Hai Di Lao (HDL), but each time when Grumpy Cat and I talk about going there, we would inevitably end up putting off our trip there, due to me having exams or suddenly falling sick at inappropriate rimes.

This time round, we were determined to make this trip which we had put off for so long happen, as I felt that I did deserve it (by passing both my papers at one go) and also to celebrate our anniversary early, since Grumps would be in Hong Kong to attend a Group conference on our actual day.

I had to OT till quite late yesterday, and I was already not feeling that well by the time I managed to reach home.

True enough, I woke up today, on a rainy morning, with a terrible sore throat, but since this weekend would be the only weekend I could spend with Grumps before he flies off for the week, I decided to pull myself together, spammed drank le Vitamin C water, along with leftover medicine which I had gotten from my doctor during my visit just a month back. I did feel much better after that.

We had wanted to eat the famous chai poh carrot cake from 618 Sims Carrot Cake last Saturday, but when we went there, it was closed, which made it such a wasted trip for us, since neither of us lives near the area.

Weak body chose to break down this weekend, but I was determined not to let my body condition get in the way of me enjoying good food, and so, the rest was history. xD

Although I don't really consider Grumpy a very romantic guy (he hasn't given me flowers before LOL), he does show his love and care to me through other tangible actions, like walking across the road to buy me liang teh and getting me a bread for me to ease my hunger. I'm super appreciative of this, Grumpy. ;D

We ended up having to wait for about an hour to get our order - thankfully Grumps had bought me the bread, if not I would have been really hangry.

This carrot cake was good, but honestly, I wouldn't wait for an hour for this again. There are comparable stalls nearer my house (like the one at Bukit Timah hawker centre) that sell carrot cake of the same quality, or even slightly better. The main selling point of this was that they put the chai poh (preserved radish) at the side of the plate, but I felt that the amount of chai poh wasn't as much as what Grumps and I expected, considering that we had ordered the big portion. Oh well... ;/

OK, so now back to the main point of this post: our virgin HDL experience. I had called up HDL (IMM branch) on Thursday night, nearing to 12 am, and managed to snag seats for Saturday dinner at 6 pm. Turned out that the reservation guy made a mistake 'cos technically speaking, I was told that reservations are not allowed on weekends, but since it was the mistake of their staff, HDL did call me up to apologise and say that they would still honour my initial reservation, just that I had to be prepared to wait a little while. I was fine with that.

After Grumps bought his sport shoes, we whiled away our time (I actually felt tired enough to sleep lol, must be the medicine) and when it was 5.30 pm, we both decided to head up to HDL. It turned out that for those without any reservations, the waiting time was already 3 hours? #siao As my initial reservation was honoured, I got my queue number and we were both ushered to a waiting area, where they served us snacks, fruit and drinks.

The crackers were so good! We had at least 3 servings of this before there was a table available for us. Kudos to the service staff who were so damn patient and accommodating to us.

We were shown to our table at around 6.15 pm, 15 minutes after my initial reservation. As we had already decided what to order while at the waiting area, our appointed waitress, Hua Hua, just had to confirm if the items were what we truly wanted. I had to admire her honesty, because she was asking if 4 soup bases were too much for us (most patrons only go for 2, especially when there are only 2 diners). She also asked us again to check on the ingredients we ordered for us, as she felt that it would be tough for us to finish all that we had initially ordered. Heeding her warning, we proceeded to check the iPad again on our orders, and managed to cancel off some items.

We got the chicken soup, seafood soup, 3 delicacies soup and the tomato soup. Imo, I felt that the 3 delicacies and tomato soups tasted the best. The chicken came in a close third, but I didn't find the seafood soup any special. I had to forgo the mala soup because I wasn't feeling that well. ;(

Featuring the HDL beef and the handmade fishball with roe.

Grumpy swapped out a few of the other ingredients we initially ordered for this fried pork. Eh hello I thought you were banning me from eating fried food?

There were some must-eats that we would definitely get if we ever get the feel to splurge again, while others could be given a miss. The HDL beef was unbelievably tender and I'd definitely get it again the next time I come; same with the fishball with roe as well as the shrimp paste that I did not get to take a photo of. We had also ordered fishcakes which I felt could be missed as there was nothing much special about it.

The la mian was $4 per portion, and came with much theatrics and skill by the person serving the noodles. You can view the performance in the video below. The noodles would also be one of my must-orders when I visit HDL again, as it was really damn QQ i.e chewy! It tasted super good with the tomato soup base and the 3 delicacies soup base.

Pardon my irritating voice towards the end hahaha. But this guy was just so skillful. The noodles came so close to my face, and yet it didn't touch me at all. #soverywow

Our total bill came up to nearly $110 for 2. I'd say that this was a really expensive meal, considering that we didn't really order much (and we already cut down from the initial order), and not all the ingredients we ordered were mindblowingly-good, but the service was really, really top-notch! In fact, I do not even think that service staff for fine dining would be this attentive. Hua Hua explained to us the different ingredients that went into making each soup base, and also did advise how we should be taking our soup as she was afraid that it would be too salty for us. She also did help to clear our plates and bowls regularly so that our table wouldn't become too unsightly. Hot wet towels were also given to us regularly for us to wipe our hands and clean up our table, ensuring that we would be eating at a clean table. She also did take her time to explain how the ingredients were prepared, and also had some small talks with us, which I really appreciated, as she was waiting on 2 other tables as well. It must have been very tough for her. ;X

We were also being treated to a 变脸 performance. It seems that we were lucky, because my friend didn't get to see this performance when she was dining.

I had originally wanted to pay for this HDL dinner as it was my suggestion to go there, and I wanted to treat Grumpy as our early anniversary dinner, but notti Grumps went to pay up when I was in the toilet. ;( Thank you so much Grumps for all the love you have shown me, then and now. I'm really so lucky to have met you - what would I do without you? T_T Luckily I still have a back-up plan for this anniversary though. ;P

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