Alan Yau’s original home of contemporary Michelin-starred Cantonese cuisine still delivers after all these years. As with all Hakkasans worldwide (currently 12, with the newest brave opening in Shanghai), the decor is sleek and sexy; dark, with subtle spotlights lighting the tables. The long bar dominates the back of the restaurant with its signature brick wall. As you descend the dimly lit staircase, a glowing purple reception desk with immaculate hostesses and seating area greets you; more akin to a trendy boutique hotel than a restaurant. The greeting is friendly and cheery as we enter and, without any wait, we are directed to our table. The space is divided by ornate Chinese screens and lanterns giving the dining space a more intimate feel than its sister tea house, Yauatacha.
Hakkasan has always been known not only for its outstanding Chinese food, but also its inspiring cocktails. I start dinner with a classic Saketini (which I stick to throughout the meal, despite the good wine list) that is mixed well – perhaps slightly on the sweeter side than I am used to in other places. I opt for the “Taste of Hakkasan” set menu to experience as many
dishes as possible. À la carte, Dim Sum and Signature tasting menus are also available.
A selection of Dim Sum arrives ﬁrst: scallop shumai, excellent har gau, chive dumpling and an interesting shimeji dumpling. The quality is as good if not better than at Yauatacha, renowned especially for its Dim Sum. The service from all the waiting staff encountered throughout the evening was always polite and prompt, with no request too much to ask.
The selection of main courses arrive on one plate, perfect for sharing. The duck is perfectly cooked with a delicious, tangy Pipa sauce. The prawns are slightly lacklustre. Plump and juicy, but unfortunately tasteless and the the spicy lily bulb and almond puree accompanying doesn’t give it the oomph it needed to really lift the dish up to the level the produce itself deserves. The Seabass marinated and cooked in honey perfectly was moist and ﬂaky as expected, with delectable Chinese cloud ear mushrooms and vegetables. A real high light was the black pepper beef in merlot with full
tender cloves of garlic.
The meal ends with a beautiful cherry chocolate bar. Excellent presentation and balanced ﬂavours of the dark chocolate and the delectable cherries, with a slightly crunchy base. The refreshing cherry sorbet cleansing the palate for the perfect ﬁnish. There might be a lot of contemporary Chinese restaurants ﬁghting for the number one spot worldwide, but where ever Hakkasan arrives, it takes the crowd by storm. A classic that has remained contemporary. I have no hesitations in visiting a Hakkasan, wherever I am in the world.
Hakkasan Hanway Place
8 Hanway Place
London W1T 1HD
+44 (0) 207 927 7000
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Sami Darling-Rock an independent travel and food writer based in London, specialising in high-end restaurant and hotel reviews , as well as travel products and experiences from around the world. Follow his writings on www.getsetjetset.com and twitter @samitravels