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Hotpot chain Haidilao to open London branch
Last Updated: 2018-07-05 09:06 | China Daily
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Social media users in China have expressed excitement after learning one of China's popular hotpot chains will open a branch in the center of London.

Although no official opening date has been set for the first United Kingdom branch of Haidilao Hot Pot, the restaurant said on Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo the store is undergoing preparations.

The restaurant group, which was founded in Sichuan province in 1994, has 137 eateries on the Chinese mainland and others in Singapore, the United States, South Korea and Japan, according to its website.

The branch will be in the Trocadero Centre on Shaftesbury Avenue, between Piccadilly Circus and London's Chinatown.

The move is part of an expansion drive that will see Haidilao open 80 restaurants this year.

A Chinese-style hotpot meal involves groups of diners sitting around a bubbling pot of hot, flavored soup into which the diners place meats, vegetables and noodles that cook in the soup.

While some Weibo users said they want to try the new restaurant, others called for the chain to open outlets in other parts of Britain. One user asked "What about the price?" while another suggested it would be very expensive.

The chain is best known for its extraordinary customer service. People waiting to be seated are offered free manicures, shoe polishing, massages and video games to pass the time.

Diners are also entertained by chefs who make and stretch the dough for the noodles right in front of them, and who whirl the strings of dough around gymnastically.

The 929-square-meter West End restaurant will be located beneath a 700-room hotel and rooftop bar.

Real estate company Savills Plc advised the hotpot company in its acquisition of the 15-year lease.

"It is testament to London's reputation as a foodie capital that it has chosen the city as its first European destination," said Richard Thomas, associate director in the leisure team at Savills. "The chain already has its sights set on expansion, both in the UK and across Europe, and we are very pleased to have secured this prime spot for its flagship restaurant."

Zhang Yong, Haidilao's chairman, told Bloomberg in April 2017 that as many as 10 new restaurants will be opened outside China.

"As the Chinese economy grows and the outside world starts to put more focus on China, I believe there's a chance for Chinese restaurants," Zhang said.

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