food & drink

Hakkasan: Impeccable and adventurous cuisine

Walking up Bruton Street in Mayfair, I am not sure what to expect. I am heading for a Michelin starred restaurant and am extraordinarily excited. How will one be greeted? Fireworks and choirs?

Walking up Bruton Street in Mayfair, I am not sure what to expect. I am heading for a Michelin starred restaurant and am extraordinarily excited. How will one be greeted? Fireworks and choirs? Will one be expected to be wearing a ball gowns? Will one have to speak in the third person?

That gets irritating, so I’ll stop now.

I wonder if Justin Bieber was there?

After such a build up, I walk past it and am unsure where to go. I walk into the building next door, full of meeting rooms and they let me know Hakkasan is next door.

Puzzled, I approach the black door and walk down a dark corridor which reminds me of a nightclub. I am startled by a woman appearing in a small booth on my right (where did she appear from?) asking if I have anything for the cloakroom, and she directs me straight.

I look around, but there really isn’t any other option. Where else was I going to go? I walk through a door that is opened for me, and then another until I reach the reception and am led to a table.

The lighting is dark, so when anyone approaches, they are a mystery. It could be a waiter, but it could also be Justin Bieber. You’d never know, not until they reach your table, anyway.

It is intriguing though, a sense of ambiguity pervades and it’s all quite exciting. Yellow roses on the tables and dimmed lighting, along with questionably loud music makes for an interesting atmosphere.

Impeccable food

As I look through the menu, I am thinking of Dory’s song in Finding Nemo: “No eating here tonight, no eating here tonight! We’re on a diet!” This is not what I am thinking, at all. In fact, Hakkasan also disagree with Dory, here fish are food.

Peach juice arrives, along with Voss water from Norway (which tastes the same as tap water, frankly) and vegetarian dim sum. The juice is better than the fruit itself, rich and sweet, but not overpowering and the dim sum looks stunning. The dim sum includes different dumplings, (including one of Chinese chive), salad, and mushroom and pak choi spring rolls.

The spring rolls are the star of the show, never having come across a spring roll which isn’t greasy, this was a revelation. 

A light and flavourful filling, surrounded by savoury, crispy pastry and accompanied by sharp soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce meant this was as close to perfection as you can get. 

Following an impressive starter came vegetarian chicken, which is an uncertain concept, given that chicken is, by definition, not vegetarian.

A discussion with the waiter (who used to be a vegetarian for a while) revealed it was made from seitan (pronouced scarily like Satan), a food made from gluten, eaten by monks for quite some time.

As a vegetarian, all I can say is that it tasted how I imagine chicken would taste. Crispy outside but tender and the right amount of chewy inside, it was brilliant in terms of texture and flavour. The sauce was full of depth, a tinge of sweetness alongside smokiness and the heat of the black pepper hits the back of your throat, but it is nicely contrasted with sugar snap peas.

It came with boiled pak choi, which thankfully wasn’t waterlogged, and fluffy jasmine rice.

The best course…and the best service

Dessert, however, was the best course. The cherry and chocolate bar looked and tasted stunning, though served on a tile which looked like it could be a part of a driveway. Soft chocolate, almost like a brownie, with an oozing cherry centre, thus a harmony of sweet chocolate and sharp cherry. A melt in the mouth cherry sorbet in chocolate powder, cherry sauce and cherry pieces made this a work of art. 

I happened to go with a friend, who ordered macaroons for dessert and she was not disappointed, either. Stealing a taste, I can safely say dessert at Hakkasan is very, very special. The chocolate macaroons, rich with ganache, were paired with lighter orange blossoms that were also explosive with flavour but not too citrusy and textured moreish pistachio macaroons completed the selection.

Not only was the food impeccable, but so was the service. Glasses are refilled with water seconds after you finish and waiters or waitresses appear the moment you have decided on your order. Service impacts a dining experience massively, and there is no doubt that I am keen to visit again because of the brilliantly attentive and friendly waiter we were lucky enough to have.

You should probably go. Now.

It’s pretty easy too gauge my advice from what I’ve said, but if you haven’t quite grasped my gushing tone, here’s all of the above put simply: Like Chinese? Go to Hakkasan. Don’t like Chinese? Go to Hakksan. I’d make a reservation right about now.

What do you thnik? Have your say in the comments section below.