Yes, San Diego is already flooded with spots for hot pot but the newest entry to the scene is the highest-profile name yet. HaiDiLao. China’s biggest hot pot chain, is headed for Westfield UTC where it’s opening in the mall next to the Zara store. The restaurant will reportedly be up and running by Summer 2021.
Founded in 1994 in China’s Sichuan province, where hot pot is a mainstay of the cuisine, HaiDiLao now has more than 900 stores across the globe; its first U.S. branch opened at Westfield Santa Anita in 2013 and was subsequently deemed by then-critic Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times as “the Ferrari of Chinese hot pot restaurants”.
With its various broth bases and large range of different meats, seafood, and vegetables to cook in tabletop vessels, its menu is extensive but fairly standard for the genre. How the upscale eatery sets itself apart from the pack is by featuring over-the-top, personalized experiences, from snacks and games provided for waiting guests to manicure services available to diners. There’s also a hand-pulled noodle-making demo and dance show performed tableside and for solo diners, HaiDiLao will offer up a giant stuffed animal toy as a dining companion.