The food may not be what it used to be but it still has one of the classiest ambience to get you ready for a big night out in London Town. Dishes are presented artistically, complementing the gorgeous contemporary setting and its Michelin star. The food has been the pinnacle of Cantonese cuisine, not just in London but globally. But the quality has been far from perfect in our recent visit. The legacy of Chef Tong Chee Hwee and restauranteur Alan Yau is sadly losing its luster after 20 years.
What is the food like?
Authentic Cantonese cuisine amplified with lavish Western ingredients. The sumptuous Peking duck is topped with a dash of Prunier caviar. Traditional Cantonese favourites like sweet and sour is made with pork from Duke of Berkshire. Using Iberico black pig to make char siu and replacing prawn with langoustine in har gau have intrigued many tastebuds. The flavours are kept original as what you will expect from the best restaurants in Hong Kong or Guangzhou. Dishes are presented artistically, complementing the gorgeous contemporary setting and its Michelin star.
The food has been the pinnacle of Cantonese cuisine, not just in London but globally. But the quality has been far from perfect in our recent visit. The legacy of Chef Tong Chee Hwee and restauranteur Alan Yau is sadly losing its luster after 20 years.
How is the drinks selection?
Outstanding. There is a comprehensive selection of regular to fancy wines worthy of accompanying the Michelin-star meal. Ninety two choices of reds ranging from Old World icons like Château Margaux, Latour, Mouton-Rothschild as well as a bottle of 2001 Petrus for £4,100 to New World successes like Raats Family from Stellenbosch, South Africa and Viña von Siebenthal from the Aconcagua Valley in Chile. Not to be outdone, there are fifty three choices of whites, twelve champagnes, four rosé and eleven sweet/fortified wines.
If wine doesn’t do it for you, there is an endless list of spirits, including a selection of sake, eighteen vodkas, twenty two tequilas, thirty six rums, fifty seven single malts, twenty two scotches, twenty one gins and the list goes on. All of which can be made into any cocktails you can think of. How about 50ml of 1976 Glenmorangie 18 yrs Concorde for £525 to start the evening?
What is the place like?
It is a stylish dance club that serves food. The place is dimly lit with minimal accent lighting, creating a funky vibe in black and blue. Complete with live DJ dance music, Hakkasan will get you into the groove for a night out in London Town. The 130 pax room is intimately partitioned into separate sections by beautiful intricate Chinese lattice wood panels. It is quite amazing how this place, designed by Christian Liaigre, is still the hallmark of style after 20 years.
Who are the patrons?
Party-goers and people who wants to be seen. It is a place to glam up for and to start the celebration. Equally popular with city slickers looking to wow foreign clients with one of the best of London.
How was the service?
Attentive but inconsistent. Service was generally prompt and effective from the more seasoned staff. New staff without sufficient training lacks the slickness you expect in such an establishment. The servers took pride in introducing the dishes and wine glasses were kept filled throughout the night. But irregular request of lime wedges for sparkling water went awry before a third attempt.
It was an inconvenience to have to log into their wifi to view the menu as there was no mobile data service underground in the restaurant.
Is it child friendly?
Not really. It isn’t really a place for family dinners but fine for lunch when there is less of a party atmosphere.
Is it dog friendly?
Decent. Slightly harder to compared with similar Michelin star restaurants in London given its dish sharing nature. But expect to part with £80 to £120 per person before drinks. That’s about on par with peers. The restaurant charge a discretionary 12.5% service charge (increased to 15% during the COVID pandemic).
See below for what my dining companions and I indulged in for this review (prices quoted include VAT):
2015 Daniel Rion Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Vignerondes Premier Cru
This Pinot Noir red is from the Premier Cru vineyard of Aux Vignerondes in the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellations in Burgundy. It is an easy drinking medium bodied red. Fragrant on the nose with scent of strawberry, raspberry with a hint of lavender. On the palate it is light with a long sweet finish. £120
Signature Peking Duck
This is the Cantonese rendition of the Bellota Ibérico ham. It is known for perfectly crispy slices of wafer thin skin and tender succulent meat. The flavour is a complex balance of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, peppercorn, fennel seeds, maltose, Shaoxing wine and red vinegar. The duck looks amazing with its glossy finish, the meat was tasty and juicy, but the skin lacks the crunch. Excess meat not used for the pancake was supposed to be cooked in the decadent XO sauce, but we could not taste it in our dish. £110
Classic steamed dim sum
Hakkasan’s take on har gau (prawn dumpling), siu mai (pork and prawn dumpling) and siu long bao (soup dumpling). The lavish alternative ingredients of langoustine, caviar, scallop and XO sauce gave an nice twist to these classics. The truffle-like flavour from the wild mushroom was heavenly and chestnut-like . £39
Classic baked dim sum
A trio of supposedly classic baked dim sum. The siu long bao-like dumpling of abalone and chicken in a sweet potato pastry was too stodgy. The Szechuan style lamb puff, I think, is a tribute to deep fried taro dumpling? The lamb filling was flavoursome but lacking in spice and cumin and the taro pastry doesn’t provide the same satisfying crunch as the traditional fluffy pastry. The simple spring roll was upgraded with a crispy wrap and a satisfying lobster and cheese concoction inside. £32
24 hour slow roasted Iberico pork char siu
The wagyu of the pork world delivers again. Gorgeously presented, the meat was tender and juicy. But we were left underwhelmed, as it wasn’t a char siu. The distinctive caramelised sweetness and charred flavours were not punching through this Spanish import. £34
Salt and pepper squid
Poorly executed. The batter was a touch too thick for the delicate squid. A heavier hand on the salt and pepper would give the dish a more gratifying finish. £19
Golden fried soft shell crab
Lacking in crunch and flavours. A difficult dish to perfect and it has faltered here. The usually tasty soft shell crab was not present. £19
Roasted silver cod in honey
What is a silver cod? From the velvety texture and buttery flavour, I think it is Black Cod or Sablefish. The subtle sweetness from the honey and gentle sourness from the reduced champagne make for a great balance of flavours. £52
Steamed hand dived scallops
Beautifully presented on shell with a circular lattice peppered with tiny dried shrimps and spring onions. The sweetness of the scallops escaped the dish as they were overdone. Though the shrimps added a hint of salty unami sensation, the dish generally lacked depth in traditional flavours from garlic, chilli and sesame oil. £54
Sweet and sour Duke of Berkshire pork
Looks the part but neither the sweet nor the sour were sufficiently delivered in this dish. The pork was crunchy but lacking in flavour. Unfortunately, the novel addition of pomegranate did not salvage the dish. £24