This is a classic amazing Chinese restaurant. Hakkasan is one of the very few Chinese restaurants that has a Michelin star (got it in 2003) and was also even included in the top 100 best restaurants in the world a few years ago. The restaurant was created in 2001 by Syra Khan and Alan Yau who are also behind Wagamama, Yauatcha and Sake no Hana restaurants in London. The first Hakkasan in London was opened just by Tottenham Court Road station in Hanway Place, but in 2010 they opened another restaurant in Mayfair, which is bigger than the Tottenham Court one. Also Hakkasan started expanding abroad in 2009 with a restaurant in Miami and nowadays Hakkasan can also now be found in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Las Vegas and Mumbai. The main chef of Hakkasan is Tong Chee Hwee and he even won the award of the best London chef in 2005.
Hakassan’s interior is worth many million pounds and was created by the French designer Christian Liagre (he also did the homes of Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein, Valentino’s Paris headquarters, etc) and who in the Hakkasan interior fused distinctly modern aesthetic with traditional Chinese motifs. The interior is absolutely beautiful, dark and mysterious, with fresh flowers and Chinese motive walls separating tables. I was totally blown away by the décor and the atmosphere in Hakkasan when I first went there many years ago.
My latest trip to Hakkasan was for dinner on a Tuesday evening with my friend Rob. The only bad thing about Hakkasan is that they have a very fierce table turning policy and you can book a table for dinner only for 2h, and they will make you leave if you overrun and you won’t be able to order more food if you approach these 2 hours, which means this is not a very casual dining destination these days and if you take a date there, it potentially can be quite awkward if you are told to leave after 2 hours when you are getting along well and still have things to discuss. Rob and I know Hakassan well and we knew we had 2h so we managed to order and finish our meal in this designated time with even time to spare.
To start our meal Rob and I both ordered the Hot and Sour soup, although Rob’s one had chicken, shiitake and pomelo and I chose the vegetarian option. The soup was insanely delicious, but the thing that really caught my eye was the price - £11.50 for my vegetarian one and slightly more for Rob’s one, and I think this is the most expensive hot and sour soup in London and the portion was a bit smaller than your average hot and sour soup. We also ordered “Grilled Shanghai dumplings” and “Salt and pepper squid” from the starters menu. The salt and pepper squid was excellent. Rob kept saying how good this was and one of the best squid dishes he has had as the squid felt so fresh and slightly chewy, just how a fresh squid should taste like. I do agree, it was excellent. I was slightly disappointed with the Shanghai dumplings, only because I had expected them not to be grilled (I missed the part where on the menu they said they would be grilled) and was hoping to see the traditional Shanghai dumplings with soup in them. Nevertheless the taste was excellent, the pork inside of them was superbly fresh and delicious.
We had wanted to order 3 main courses but the waitress strongly objected saying it was too much food, so in the end we settled with “Stir-fry black pepper rib-eye beef with merlot” as well as “Spicy prawns with lily bulb and almond” and these are 2 dishes I always have when I visit Hakkasan and these are some of their signature dishes. We also ordered a portion of “Stir-fry lotus root, asparagus and lily bulb in black pepper” to go with these main courses and broccoli, although the waitress did object even the broccoli was too much food, but this time we ignored her and ordered it. The rib eye in merlot was an insanely delicious piece of meat which was so soft, it literally melted in your mouth. Rob also very much liked it. The prawns were equally amazing, in a delicious curry broth that I kept eating with steamed rice. The prawns also felt extremely fresh and were large and just superb. I love the lotus root, asparagus and lily bulb vegetarian dish and have been having it every single time I go to Hakassan as I just love this combination of vegetables and I love lotus root, and once again this was superb. The broccoli were great too.
I do think Hakassan is one of the best Chinese restaurants in London, the food is absolutely excellent there, and I only appreciate it after I have been to other Chinese restaurants and I realize very few places can compete with Hakassan in terms of the quality of dishes. The annoying thing though during our last visit was the service. We had ladies around our desk, clearing dishes, pouring water, pouring wine, checking if we needed anything all the time, and it was just too much and it felt like there were 3 or more of us having dinner as Rob and I were left alone to chat for what seemed very few periods of time.
Date: 06/ 08/ 13
Price for 2 people with alcohol and service charge: £249.84