admitted to attempting to extort China’s most popular hot pot chain by bringing in a dead rat.man has
In November of last year, the man, surnamed Guo, dined with his wife at a Haidilao location in Beijing. After about 20 minutes, he called over a waiter to report a problem, presenting a cooked rodent which he claimed to have fished out of the bubbling broth.
According to Guo, staff at the restaurant first offered him vouchers for free meals. Then, one worker upped the offer to 20,000 yuan ($3,000) in compensation. Guo turned that proposal down and instead demanded 5 million yuan ($740,000).
As you’d expect, the two sides failed to come to an agreement. Guo contacted the local food and drug administration while Haidilao went to the police. After investigation, Guo was arrested for extortion.
At his trial on Tuesday, Guo pleaded guilty to the charge, admitting to having discovered the dead rat while visiting his hometown in Henan province and then taking the rodent with him back to Beijing in a bottle. He explained that initially he was only interested in a free meal, but had got a bit greedy.
Founded in 1994 in Sichuan province by a former factory worker, Haidilao has expanded around China — with more than 190 outlets in the country — and across the globe 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 company made headlines with its impressive debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange, raising nearly $1 billion. This was soon followed by another headline-grabbing story of a woman in Shenzhen finding a “sanitary pad” inside of a Haidilao hot pot. Suspiciously, she then went on to find another pad at a different restaurant the following day.
Back in 2017, the chain 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.