Not your average Chinese restaurant, Hakkasan is Michelin starred and award winning. You won’t get a plate of prawn crackers on arrival but you will experience the finest modern Cantonese cuisine and exceptional service.
Hakkasan has locations across the world but we visited their original location in Hanway Place opened in 2001. Descending the stairs into darkness, the restaurant is all dark wood, lattice screens and Chinese opulence in a somehow understated way.
We couldn’t possibly take in the menu all at once so went for a couple of cocktails to start. The Georgia Julep and the Green Destiny. I had high hopes for the julep but it was far too sweet for me, I felt the Buffalo Trace Whiskey was overpowered by the mint. But the Green Destiny was predictably refreshing as Zubrowka (bison grass vodka) paired with apple always is.
As I said, we were overwhelmed by the options on the menu so decided to go for one of their Signature Menus for £118 each. My boyfriend was feeling America-hungry and decided on adding prawn toast as well.
The one thing I would say was a disappointment with Hakkasan was how quickly the food came out. Our Peking duck arrived even before our drinks, which made us feel rather rushed. The Peking Duck as a main course is the most expensive thing on the menu and understandable as served with a sprinkling of Qiandao finest caviar on top. They present it in its entirety then whisk it away to prepare.
While they were preparing the duck, the soft shell crab with red chilli and curry leaf appeared. Neither of us is a huge soft shell crab fan so this wasn’t my favourite dish but a fun salty crunchy starter.
The prawn toast was more akin to prawn balls than toast and was very filling, which you’d probably expect for £13. I did enjoy it but if you’re at Hakkasan there are probably more unique options to go for.
When the peking duck arrived, it really wasn’t what I expected. Instead of the classic rolled up kind you assemble yourself, it comes in canapé form. You get three each and I advise you to savour each and every bite.
Look at that glistening caviar in all its salty goodness. It’s probably not wise for my pocket to say this, but this was my favourite dish of the meal.
Hungry for the fish course? First up was Australian Lobster in a spicy black bean sauce served on a giant birds nest crisp. To be honest, I felt this was the most pointless course as the lobster was utterly overwhelmed by the sauce and you really couldn’t taste its flavour at all. However, the presentation was beautiful.
Oddly enough one of my favourite dishes was the Three Mushroom Stir Fry with macadamia nuts. I just love mushrooms though.
The stand out winning dish of the whole meal was the Chilean seabass in honey (with deep fried mushrooms on top). I’ve never tasted fish like this. It was light as air and utterly silky on the tongue.
A close runner up for favourite was the Wagu beef, sliced thinly and just perfectly cooked. This was demolished almost immediately.
The main course also comes with gelatinous rice, bok choy and stir fried Peking Duck, which were a little forgettable compared to the other dishes on the menu.
But dessert, ah dessert. I used to work in a Chinese restaurant and for dessert you could get Romantica or canned lychees on ice cream. None of that here. At Hakkasan, the desserts we had were exceptional!
Behold, coconut semifreddo with tonka crémeux, coconut, lime. One of the lightest and creamiest desserts I’ve ever eaten.
It’s rich cousin appeared, I believe it was the Gianduja with mascarpone and orange. I love praline so this was phenomenal to me. I almost wish dessert came at the start of the meal as I feel it’s never truly appreciated enough.
The food at Hakkasan is very good and the service is extremely attentive. Almost too good, as at any one time there were 4 servers lingering around behind our table. It is expensive as you would expect from any Michelin starred restaurant.
Our meal came to £329 including two cocktail and one glass of dessert wine. A lot more than you would pay for a meal in China Town but we were there to celebrate our one year anniversary and I can recommend it to anyone looking to enjoy a special evening. You will need to book as it is always full.
You’ll find Hakkasan Hanway Place:
8 Hanway Place