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Ms J

Hakkasan

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I've been searching for Hakkasan's stand-alone thread, and am shocked - SHOCKED, I tell you - that we've managed to be in existance for this long and still not managed to give Hakkasan its own thread. Tsk.

 

Three women met up for a girlie lunch on Saturday. We ordered dim sum supplimented with a few mains:

 

Dim Sum

Roast venison puff - delicious as always, though not terribly different to the more common roast pork puff

Soupy dumplings - quite obviously handmade (the hand-pleating was unmistakable, according to the dim sum expert at the table), but could have used a little more steaming

Steamed Chinese chive dumplings - excellent

XO scallop dumplings - steamed scallops encased in a seafoody jelly. We ate these with extra home-made XO sauce, which is full of abalone and other precious sea creatures

Turnip cake - this was served in a lettuce leaf, as described elsewhere. It was much better than the turnip cake at other restaurants, but our dim sum expert was still unimpressed.

Char siu and preserved vegetable cheung fun - very obviously handmade, and much better than most cheung fun, but surprisingly oversalted. The dim sum expert explained that the chef had used the minimum possible amount of flour to make the cheung fun as delicate as possible, which unfortunately also meant it couldn't tame the saltiness of the preserved vegetable. It probably would have been brilliant with the asparagus cheung fun, though.

 

Mains

Hakka Stew (chunks of pork belly red-braised with black fungus and five spice) - absolutely gorgeous, with melting meat, crunchy fungus and a pefectly mellow balance of flavours. This was the stand-out dish of the meal, and our dim sum expert has been talking about trying to recreate it ever since.

Tea-smoked chicken - not a patch on the tea-smoked ribs, unfortunately. The skin was a glorious burnished mahogany but the flesh was too dry

Hand-pulled noodles - not bad, but a bit of a let-down. Dim sum expert said the noodle shape indicated that they may not have been hand-pulled at all.

 

Overall the food was several cuts above what you usually get in London, although still nowhere near the really good stuff in Hong Kong and Singapore. Service was a bit off. Our waiter was obviously well trained, but a little pushy and not terribly prepared to talk about the food with someone who really understood it. (I have to say the restaurant was buzzing during our entire afternoon there, and for the first time I noticed very few Asians at the tables; maybe the service emphasis is changing accordingly?)

 

At £35 each it was pricey for the Londoners and shocking for the Singaporean. The room in still one of the most beautiful in the city, though. And the cocktails are wonderful.

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Went here for the first time (since the last time - Jon's dim sum venture), and was shocked at how good the food was.

 

Like Miss J, had the Hakka stew, also the Pi Pa duck, and hand-pulled noodles (forgot entirely how good they taste - they used to be more available, no?). To start, char gau and siu mai.

 

Intend to spend next weeks mugging old people asnd small children for pocket money so I can return at earliest opportunity.

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Lunch today was my first time at Hakkasan.

 

A strange and rather forbidding walk down two flights of grey slate steps into the gloom of the restaurant was initially offputting, but the room does indeed present a great vista. The open dividers work well, and even though the tables are very close together there is an air of spaciousness. The continuous Muzak is depressing, though, and quite out of keeping with the style of the place.

 

Service was generally good, if somewhat over-solicitous. The food was altogether disappointing, and the meal altogether expensive.

 

Glass of Aussie Shiraz at £10.50 for 175ml (quarter of a bottle to the numerically challenged) was very spicy, quite good with the food.

 

Starter was Crispy Duck Salad. Very run of the mill crispy aromatic duck (barely warm), smothered with an overstrong hoisin sauce, sitting on a cylinder of (very cold) assorted lettuce leaves. Good size portion, which it was entitloed to be for £18.50.

 

Main of Roast Sesame Chicken plus Egg Fried Rice and Stirfried Water Chestnuts and Sugar Snaps. The chicken wasa decent flavour but tough, and the sesame (oil) sauce was patchily very spicy hot and tasteless. The vegetables were 10% water chestnuts, 30% sugar snaps, 60% carrots and mushrooms and red and yellow peppers and onions. Bit of a con, given the description. The three dishes came to £27.50.

 

I love the fact that my bill shows "2 Glass Tap Water £0.00" :lol:

 

So the whole thing including their 13% :blink: service addition came to £63.85. Even granted that I happened to choose the most expensive items on the menu, this was honestly not a lot better than the best of my local Chinese restaurants in Croydon, and miles worse than my favourite Good Earth. I must have missed something, because I just don't see how this place would get any sort of rating.

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Why on earth didn't you have the dim sum?

 

Going to Hakkasan at lunchtime and getting a stir fry strikes me like going to Peter Lugars and ordering a green salad.

 

Was it a prawns/kosher thing?

 

Agree trad chinese stir-fries overpriced for what you get. Dim sum is where Hakkasan really shines, and even at their elevated price point it is very hard to spend more than thirty five quid on food

 

J

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Why on earth didn't you have the dim sum?

 

Going to Hakkasan at lunchtime and getting a stir fry strikes me like going to Peter Lugars and ordering a green salad.

 

Was it a prawns/kosher thing?

Yep, it's a kosher thing, so that cuts out most of the dim sum :blink:

 

If that's all that's any good, why don't they call it Hakkasan Dim Sum and take the other stuff off their menu ? And if it's just a dim sum place, how does it get the rave reviews ?

 

What is the difference between having lunch there or dinner ? Is the dim sum worse in the evening and the other dishes better ?

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no dim sum in evening (traditionally served until 5pm i think?). The evening food is really not worth bothering with, very expensive and pedestrian.

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If that's all that's any good, why don't they call it Hakkasan Dim Sum and take the other stuff off their menu ? And if it's just a dim sum place, how does it get the rave reviews ?

They have... it's called Yauatcha and has a michelin star :blink:

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The evening food is really not worth bothering with, very expensive and pedestrian.

So we agree that Hakkasan is actually just a lunchtime dim sum place with otherwise poor and overpriced food. So that probably puts it alongside forty or fifty similar places in London ? Or is the dim sum so superior to others that this ranks Hakkasan as a destination restaurant ?

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Or is the dim sum so superior to others that this ranks Hakkasan as a destination restaurant ?

Yes.

 

I've never eaten off the main menu; surprised and disappointed to hear everyone agrees it's weak.

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dim sum superior yes.

 

Is Yauatcha going to be ok for you then Macro? I can always change the booking to somehere else...

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I'll bring some sandwiches :blink:

 

As long as I order my own food, I'm sure I'll find something on the menu.

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Thanks for that, Suzi, but there's plenty there I can eat. All I have to do is ring-fence enough of them so they don't all disappear before I can get to them :)

 

Incidentally, that menu is much more extensive than the special dim sum menu they offered me at Hakkasan, and which I briefly glanced at.

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Here's a link to the Yauatcha menu I would hate for someone not to be able to eat very much. Let's find a new venue if you really can't eat.

Out of curiosity, is the pricing at Yauatacha (and in London dim sum parlors generally) typically for 3/4 pieces on the small items?

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