Meet Lan, our Head Accountant of the Belle & Bloom family. Lan, originally from the Chinese city of Wuxi, moved to Sydney with her family in 2003. Lan and I sit down and chat about the new Belle & Bloom collection at her favourite Sydney restaurant, Haidilao.
Haidilao, an international hotpot chain originating from Sichuan, China, is nestled in the cosy Sydney suburb of Chatswood. Haidilado is famous for their incredible customer service and, of course, Hotpot.
Lan and I meet at the doors Haidilao and join the queue filled with presumably hungry diners.
'A full restaurant is always a good sign', Lan tells me. It reminds me of when my mom and I would drive around looking or place to eat dinner, always refusing to go anywhere with an empty parking lot. We wait in line, Lan wearing the Belle & Bloom Unforgettable Oversized Lace Mini Dressin white, me in the black Summer Store Velvet Midi Dress. Whilst we wait, the hostess give us popcorn and biscuits.
It's not a long wait before we are being ushered to our table. Being my first visit to the hotpot spot, I ask Lan to do the ordering.
'First you choose a soup base', she says as she points to the TomYum Soup base. Then the ingredients are selected, she looks over from the meat portion of the menu; Pork tripe, Laopai marinated beef, meatballs and her favourite, ox tongue. Lan also orders 4 pieces of Australian abalone and a selection of mushrooms and tofu for me, a vegetarian.
A few moments later, a polite waiter brings a large pot of boiling hot broth and places it on a heating plate. Placed next to the boiling pot, bowls of the ingredients ordered. Lan explains how it works, we cook it ourselves. We place our soon to be inhaled food, into the boiling pot. As it cooks, I order some snacks to tied me over and Lan, various types of dipping sauce; Sesame, seafood soy, sesame garlic.
Whilst I munch on some Chinese doughnut sticks and edamame, Lan tells me about the recent Autumn Winter photoshoot held in a disco themed suite at the Star City Casino. The 70's glam rooted collection boasts lush velvet frocks, chic pink raincoats and buttery soft leather motorcycle jackets.
When our hotpot is ready to eat, we use our chopsticks to pick out one piece at a time, dipping in our various sauces. I am living my best mushroom life.
From the extra perks while you wait for a table, to the birthday signs they took the time to prepare for another diner. To the extra snacks and fruit they give out, to the level of care you will experience while eating.
Haidilao isn’t just a meal, it’s entertainment.