It’s hard to believe that Michael & I have spent the last 4 years together, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun. We’ve shared an abundance of incredible experiences and made so many great memories that will stay with me forever.
That said, I think we may be cursed when it comes to celebrating the old anniversary, as every restaurant that we’ve been to to celebrate the big day has fallen short of expectations.
First there was Coq d’Argent, which took place in the early days of our palette development for fine dining and excellent food, which we found stuffy & over-priced. Second had us eating at Petrus where, although we enjoyed the food, we couldn’t believe the miniscule portions and hush-hush (boring) atmosphere. Although we did get a tour of the kitchen, which was a highlight. Third saw us visiting Tower 42 for drinks in Vertigo followed by dinner at City Social which, if you’ve read my most recent review of, you will know that I had a very different and much more positive experience at second time around.
So I suppose we should have known beforehand that Hakkasan was not going to be all that we hoped for, but one always has hope, and me more than most.
Both lovers of Asian food, Michael big into Chinese, and me having previously visited Hakkasan in Vegas twice and been very impressed with the food, we (fairly, I think) thought it was a solid bet.
We nestled into our table for two on a buzzing Saturday night and appreciated both the décor & ambience surrounding us.
The restaurant is truly a stunning space, with similar design to its little sister, Yauatcha (which, FYI, I’d recommend over Hakkasan any day), with dark oak wooden screens and latticing punctuated by black & gold traditionally-drawn panels.
The ‘Ling Ling’ dining area is said to evoke traditional Chinoiserie decadence, with the open-plan kitchen bringing a sense of theatre into the restaurant.
I have to hand it to them, it’s vibey.
We ordered two glasses of ‘Louis Roederer Brut Premier 12% Champagne, France’ (£14.90 each) to toast the day with.
Before moving on to a bottle of ‘Pinot Noir, Stepp, 2013’ (£44.00), recommended as a “very light, smooth red”, which I honestly found to be almost undrinkable… it was fizzy?! I still don’t really understand. I probably had a glassful before switching to ‘Syrah / Tannat, Ampakama, San Juan, Argentina’ (£8.30), which was much more enjoyable.
More importantly, FOOD. Obviously the dim sum platter (har gau; scallop shumai; Chinese chive dumpling; duck and yam bean dumpling) (£17.50) was an absolute must order.
This was the star of our meal, and seriously sublime. It was also the only dish that I’d deem worthy of the restaurant’s famed Michelin-star.
Crispy duck rolls (£8.00) came next. The duck itself was very dry and the combination of crisp pastry & dry duck with rich hoisin sauce meant it was in desperate need of something fresh & light to cut through it.
Hence we requested some cucumber on the side; make-shift duck pancakes, if you like (which we would absolutely have ordered were it not for the £100 price tag and whole duck requirement – another fail on Hakkasan’s behalf, in my opinion… I’m sorry but, seriously, who doesn’t want duck pancakes when they go for a Chinese?!?!). Anyway, not that it mattered at this point, but I thought it would have been intuitive for our waiter to bring us the shredded cucumber that is used for duck pancakes, rather than circular disks for us to take hap-hazard chomps from whilst tackling the duck roll.
The sesame prawn toast (£13.00) was slightly more successful. Not quite as good as Buddakan’s, but far superior to your local takeaway cardboard grease sandwich.
They were bang on in terms of texture with identifiable chewy prawn, but they lacked in flavour.
The crispy seaweed, on the other hand, was delicious.
The Jasmine tea smoked organic pork ribs (£13.90) were cooked to perfection, with the meat falling off the bone and incredibly succulent but, again, lacking in flavour; there was no sweetness or spice from the marinade. There was just no taste explosion. Both Eight over Eight and Yauatcha serve far better than these.
The crispy duck salad with pomelo, pine nut and shallot (£21.90) was an order that I insisted on, having absolutely loved it both times that I visited Hakkasan in Vegas, only for it to be a complete fail.
The meat was moist but certainly not crispy, and the dressing watery & bland.
A real shame as I know what this dish could have been.
We then had some ‘mains’, including the roasted silver cod with Champagne and honey (£39.90), which our waiter recommended from the ‘Fish’ section.
As an individual obsessed with Roka’s black cod, I thought we were in for a similar treat but, instead, the Champagne and honey bath gloop did nothing for the well-cooked but bland white fish.
Pipa duck (£22.50) looked like the real deal on the plate but, again, the meat was overcooked & dry.
(Many, many) multiple extra orders of hoisin sauce, however, did help to salvage the dish.
The Jasmine rice (£3.90) was good, as I thought the baby broccoli with salted fish, stir-fried with fresh chilli & garlic (£15.00) was, but which Michael unfortunately disliked.
At the end of our foodie tale, it’s fair to say that we didn’t experience the foodgasm that we had so hoped for. Our waiter didn’t quite perform to Michelin-standards either.
Which made stomaching the £270 bill fairly difficult.
Still, I can’t knock them on atmosphere.
Hakkasan is a restaurant loved by many and I can see the potential as to why, however, I fear that it may be resting on its laurels and good reputation, since I’ve heard of similar disappointments from others of late which is never a good sign.
When I’m in a less resentful state I’ll pluck up the courage to give Hakkasan, Mayfair a fair go. But, until then, I’d personally give it a miss.