Many of you dismiss Hakkasan as a fatherless child given up for adoption to wealthy Middle Eastern parents. The day that Alan Yau sold his interest was the day you lost yours. Having well and truly dropped the ball with their last effort – the disappointing Chrysan – Hakkasan Ltd. have returned to form with the opening of HKK (Hakka Kitchen): An evolution of the Hakkasan concept where the focus is shifted towards Chinese banqueting in the form of inflexible tasting menus. Located next door to Chrysan, it is surely no more than a few favourable reviews away from committing sororicide.
Four treasure Iberico ham wrap
20yrs Gu-yue-long-shan drunken chicken
Born out of a desire to refine their existing product, clandestine tastings were periodically held at Hakkasan Hanway Place behind drawn screens during the hours when lunch service had ended. Relying heavily upon the talents of executive head chef Tong Chee Hwee, the resulting menu is a no-holds-barred umami orgy. Once any dietary requirements or allergies have been noted, you cross over into the unknown as menus are withheld until afterwards. In return the kitchen rewards you with plate after plate of classical Cantonese cooking with a modern makeover. The more capable of their current front-of-house roster have also been reassigned here for active duty, so service appears up to snuff from the get-go. All that’s missing is the dark, sexy, straddling atmosphere for which Hakkasan is known. So with the exception of the clinical, Minority Report blue-tinted hue of the office-chic interior, this is very much Hakkasan on their A-game.
Lychee wood roasted Peking duck
The evenings bring a limited offering of a 15 course menu (£95) or a vegetarian alternative (£85). At lunch there’s also the option of an 8 course menu for £48 (£42 vegetarian). I begin with two baby-sized wraps of ‘four treasures’ encased in a juicy, intense pata negra ham. They are quickly followed by two miniature discs of cool, moist chicken bathed in a 20 year old Gu-yue-long-shan wine, leaning on a bed of fresh jellyfish.
Poulet de Bresse and dried scallop soup
There is a central wooden unit where certain preparations are made in view of the diners, such as the carving of a glistening, mouth-watering Peking duck, prior to its assembly into a pancake wrap alongside a generous flake of its incredible skin which you are to dip into a tiny lump of sugar on a smear of hoi-sin sauce. A moment I would pay to relive.
Dim sum trilogy
Gai-lan, shemeji mushroom and lily bulb in XO sauce
There’s a dim sum ‘trilogy’ accompanied by a flat-head sable brush with which to apply soy sauce at your discretion. Included is a marvellously executed har gau with that gelatinous bounce, filled with steaming hot prawn and truffle; a clementine-coloured pan-fried Sichuan dumpling of chicken and vegetables; and lastly the smooth, melting textures contained within a brittle turnip puff.
Wok-fried lobster with pan-mee
Fillet of monkfish, Louise Roederer sauce
As the meal nears the half-way mark, there’s a sense of crescendo that begins to build with a glazed chunk of wok-fried lobster resting on a bed of tagliatelle-like pan-mee in a potent, seafoody XO sauce with a flavour so long and thick it could co-star alongside a 1980’s Ron Jeremy.
Toban of homemade pumpkin tofu
Jasmine tea smoked Wagyu beef
After a brief interlude involving a palate-cleanser and a short-lived tea ceremony, there comes a truly joyous fillet of monkfish coated in the lightest of batters, buoying on a pool of rice and a zingy reduction of vintage Louis Roederer champagne. A tough act to follow, but somehow a squat cylinder of pumpkin tofu surrounded by a moat of carrots and yams in a sizzling reduction of I don’t know what, blows everything else out of the water. Not even the demonically-coloured, slow-braised Wagyu beef that follows can top it, and that’s saying something.
Steamed razor clam with chilli, mui-choi glutinous rice
Lychee tapioca, passion chiboust, passion jam
Things simmer down gently with subtle notes of lychee in a milky tapioca with elements of passion fruit making themselves known. And then a loveable pineapple fritter accompanied by a salted lime jelly and vanilla ice cream round out the meal.
Pineapple fritter, salted lime jelly, vanilla ice cream
Selection of petit fours
The cooking at HKK has the gush-factor splattered all over it. It doesn’t try to be ground breaking. It simply aims to speak old ideas in the language of today, and in that way it is entirely successful. Though there are highlights, nowhere does the meal ever dip. The staff are never far away, always keeping a watchful eye, just waiting for an opportunity to do something for you. This is the first time Hakkasan Ltd. have upped their game since Alan Yau jumped ship. Go and see for yourselves.
food : 9/10
service : 9/10
ambience : 4/10
value : 7/10
Broadgate West, Worship Street, London EC2A 2DQ
020 3535 1888