Q: What is it? A: A dark grotto with loud music where you are very likely to have a better than good food experience. An almost ideal location to begin a date where the final purpose of the evening is not just to hold hands, well… you get the idea.
Boom! Dim sum selection: Scallop shumai with tobiko caviar on top, the almost transparent har gau (shrimp), prawn chinese chive dumpling and duck dumpling. Two of each. One of their top numbers. Small wonder they gave their dim sum chief chef another restaurant, Yauatcha. (which, just like the Hakkasan, can also brag about their Michelin star)
Looking at one helluva salad. Crispy duck salad to be more precise. A fresh, nice journey into the unknown together with the unfortunate bird, pomelo (large citrus fruit), pine nut and shallot. One of the signature dishes of Ho Chee Boon, Hakkasan’s International Executive Chef.
Pan-fried Atlantic scallop with Hakka sauce. This course has dazzled me many times – the scallop has always been, as they say, top-notch. For the record, Hakka is one of China’s fifty-six ethnic groups, which after centuries of migration settled down in Mei Xiang in the Guang Dong province.
Some say that you may ditch the desserts at Hakkasan. I don’t agree. Sure, the desserts are the least memorable servings at any Hakkasan I’ve visited, but they have never made me regret that I’ve ordered them. Above, three flavors of sorbet. One of them being chocolate.
The Hakkasan is like a casino in Las Vegas. It’s a cave. When inside, you don’t really know whether it’s Midsummer or Christmas, day or night. French interior designer Christian Liaigre is the man behind both London spaces. The one in Mayfair reportedly costing more than £4 million to furnish.
Like it’s been designed with young, sexually active people in mind.
You walk down the stairs and you’re in Dateland. It’s one of the most successful nightclub designs ever applied on a restaurant. There are the groups of young women and young men (often divided by gender) and there are the couples and there are the dates. Stop. Erase that. It’s mainly the dates. Levels of androgens and estrogens are high. In the words of AA Gill: “I do think it’s good. I’d probably like it more if I were 20 years younger, and single.”
More important than curated playlists: The Food.
The ouverture is a performance in the art of dim sum creation; a blend of scallop and prawn with tobiko caviar being the top number out of four variations. Another delivery of scallops, this time pan-fried and hidden in a crispy haystack, was also a strong contender for the gold. And then there’s the duck salad, where stripes of duck are fried in clean oil with a light coating of rice flour batter before being tumbled with plum dressing and mixed salad… I can’t remember ever having praised a duck salad before. In short, the Michelin-star it has held on to since 2003 doesn’t feel out-of-place.
Served by gazelles and fashion models.
The pace at Hakkasan follows the BPM. ”Happening” is the word I think people would use. But the staff still manage to take good care of you – in fact, they do it so well that you will remember it afterwards. Many places that are more, ahem… food temple-like have a thing or two to learn from attractive group of young people who serve you at the Hakkasan. Any downsides? I heard some complain about it being pricey. And OK, if you think you’re being overcharged for paying £ 15 for some of the best dim sum around, then… maybe you just don’t like dim sum enough. Myself? I love being served outstanding dim sum by gazelle-like fashion models; so I keep returning to Hakkasan.
17 Bruton Street
London W1J 6QB