woman’s claim that she fished a “sanitary pad” out of a Haidilao hot pot is now being viewed with a bit of skepticism after it was revealed that she discovered a similar object while dining at another hot pot restaurant the following day.
The woman, surnamed Ni, had posted footage online showing herself examining the mysterious object that she claims to have found at the bottom of a hot pot while eating at a Haidilao location in Shenzhen last Friday. After inspection, she speculates that the object looks like a “menstrual pad.”
According to local media reports, the discovery led to an argument between Ni and restaurant staff with the diner demanding 1 million yuan in compensation, an amount that she later lowered to 500,000 yuan while also breaking some of the restaurant’s tableware in a fit.
Police were called, though no conclusions were quickly reached over what exactly the object was and how it came to be at the bottom of the soup. The only thing that officers initially instructed was that Ni should compensate the restaurant for the broken tableware.
In the aftermath of this incident, Haidilao did some research of its own, finding that on the following day, Ni dined at another hot pot restaurant in town and found a similar sanitary pad-like item in her soup.
While this may seem like quite the coincidence, Ni has insisted that the items are not hers and that she did not place them into the soups. Instead, she claims to be currently doing a public service by inspecting the safety of the cooking oils used at local hot pot restaurants.
“I do not want any big compensation, I only want the truth,” she told reporters, explaining that her initial 1 million yuan demand came “in the heat of the moment.”
Police are investigating and have yet to reach a conclusion in the case, though they have revealed that Ni has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the past.
This all comes shortly after Haidilao made an impressive debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange, raising nearly $1 billion. Though shares have since slipped a bit from a high of HK$19.64 to HK$17.80, it seems unlikely that this “sanitary pad” scandal will do any further damage.
Founded in 1994 by a former factory worker in Sichuan, Haidilao has expanded around China — with more than 190 outlets in the country — and across the world to cities like Los Angeles, Singapore, Seoul, and Tokyo. It’s become China’s most popular hot pot chain, not just for its food, but also for its attention to customer service. Those waiting for a table at Haidilao are offered free manicures and massages.
Last year, the chain even managed to win praise in China for openly admitting that the kitchen in one of its Beijing outlets was invested with rats after reports emerged online. In a country where food scandals are rampant and often covered up, many found Haidilao’s forthrightness refreshing.