Hakkasan is a Michelin Star restaurant offering Cantonese cuisine. The branch at Hanway Place is a short walk from Tottenham Court Road station. Alternatively, you could walk over from Oxford Circus. That option would involve walking down a dingy backstreet alley that could make you second guess your sense of direction.
We went for the Dim Sum Sunday lunch menu. Dim Sum Sundays are held every Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from 12pm – 6.45pm. There are three set menus to choose from offering meat options, vegetarian options and different selections of tea, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
The £68 pp set we chose included 2 cocktails/mocktails each and a bottle of champagne. My husband started with the Winter Sour cocktail (Rittenhouse rhy whiskey, apricot, gingerbread, nutmeg, lemon and Elumakute Tiki bitters) whilst I opted to start with a mocktail. The Kowloon Cooler was an excellent choice. A burst of flavours from strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lychee, apple, cranberry and lemonade.
Crispy duck salad with pomelo, pine nut and shallot
It’s easy to understand why the crispy duck salad is one of the favourites at Hakkasan. A refreshing mix of crunchy fresh salad and shredded duck accompanied by pomelo, mandarins and a sweet citrus sauce.
Har gau, scallop shu mai, chinese chive dumpling, duck and yam bean dumpling
I liked the scallop shu mai most, followed by the har gau. The shumai were topped with plump, sweet scallops; such a welcome change from the mass-produced ones we commonly get with processed pork. The har gau (prawn dumplings) contained a whole sweet, springy prawn. The duck and yam bean dumpling I liked the least. It could have done with more filling so that it didn’t collapse the minute you bit into it.
L to R: Spicy mooli and crab meat pastry, golden seafood and cheese roll, baked venison puff, smoked duck and pumpkin puff
The baked venison puff was delicious. A buttery crust wrapped around sweet venison, much like a barbecued pork puff. The seafood and cheese roll was crispy and the pumpkin puff was a good mix of savoury duck amidst sweet pumpkin paste.
The only thing I liked about the spicy mooli and crab meat was the shape, which resembled a little mouse. (What on earth is mooli? It’s white radish or what we call “lo bak” in Cantonese and is used to make fried carrot cake!)
Whilst I liked the puffs overall, there was too much pastry for me and I would have preferred more steamed dumplings.
Stir-fry black pepper rib eye beef with merlot
I wasn’t expecting much from this because the black pepper dishes I’ve had in the UK usually left much to be desired. Plates of meat were usually doused in sauce containing chunks of dried black peppercorn that would make you cringe once bitten into.
This, however, was a beauty. The rib eye was succulent and coated with sweet black pepper sauce. I was already full at this point but I couldn’t give up the chance to eat heavenly beef.
(Hakkasan’s recipe for this dish can be found here. Definitely something worth trying.)
Stir-fry water chestnuts, sugar snap and cloud ear
This simple, unassuming dish consisted of just a few ingredients but it was cooked to perfection. There was just enough soy sauce to make it a savoury dish without masking the natural sweetness from the sugar snaps and water chestnuts. The stir-fried vegetables were crunchy and offered clean flavours that complemented the stronger black pepper beef – a brilliant pairing. These main courses were served with spring onion and egg fried rice which I have to say was ordinary.
Jivara bomb – milk chocolate, hazelnut praline, rice krispies
The Jivara bomb is a giant, desconstructed Ferrero Rocher. When served, milk chocolate is poured over to coat it. Crack it open to find creamy hazelnut praline that melts away in your mouth. The rise krispries provide some crunch to each bite and I almost squealed in excitement when I felt the tingling sensation of popping candy as I chewed.
Arabica Punch and Seville 33
There is a recommended cocktail to bring out the best of each dessert. For the Jivara Bomb, it was Seville 33. A mixture of Diplomatico Reserva rum, Santa Teresa orange rum liqueur marmalade and chocolate bitters. I tried this the last time we came to Hakkasan and did not like it at all because of the bitterness, but my husband loved it.
I opted for the Arabica Punch instead, a mixture of Wray Nephrew rum, coconut, lychee and espresso. The espresso dominated and masked the coconut and lychee. Fine by me since I like coffee but my husband could not be bear to even catch a whiff of it.
I like the way Hakkasan offers a modern experience whilst preserving the essence of Chinese dimsum. Traditional dimsum places are loud and cramped. Sharing tables with strangers is common practice and there is little personal space. Even though Hakkasan was packed and there was very little space between tables, the restaurant felt cosy and intimate thanks to clever lighting effects. There are little bulbs that hang above every table so when you dine, your focus is only on the people seated around at the same table. You tend not to notice the other patrons who are only a few inches away.
The duck salad and stir-fry beef were easily my favourites and I would recommend them to anyone visiting Hakkasan.