Saturday, November 20, 2010

London - Hakkasan

It felt like walking into a club - on an otherwise dark and empty street, a bouncer and a girl with a clipboard stand outside the restaurant, seeing if your name is on the list. Then proceeding down the stairs, doors are opened, reservations checked again, coats taken and finally you are led to your table. The interior has an amazing design blending Chinese motifs (think cut-out lattice panels instead of walls) with trendy back-lit walls in blue and purple tones. The space seems larger than what it probably is, thanks to the panels, and yet somehow doesn't reach that deafening loudness of some restaurants.

AG and I had decided the previous night at Amaya that we would stick to ordering cocktails at Hakkasan as well. As always, I don't remember what they were but I tend to order ones that are rum or tequila based. The first one had pear and tequila and the second one that I ordered was a take on a pina colada but AG and I actually swapped cocktails and I ended up with a cocktail that had vodka and muddled grapes. Regardless, they were all delicious.

Again the small-plates trend (which I really do so love) continued. We started with the jasmine-tea smoked organic pork ribs - sticky sweet fall-off-the-bone tender deliciousness melting in your mouth. The serving size, four babyback ribs per person, was much larger than we thought it would be. After we commented between ourselves that that wetnaps would be welcome, we were given two bowls of water with lemon, and a hot towel. They think of everything here!

Next was the vegetarian dim sum and each of us got 4 pieces of whatever vegetable goodness was in there (the only thing we didn't really like was the bean curd used to wrap one of the pieces). These were really delicate and I remember liking the one with the green skin best. I was kinda dreamily thinking about these for a long long time afterward.

No more small plates! Now came the mains. We couldn't do without a veggie dish so we got the braised tofu, aubergine and shiitake mushroom claypot in blackbean sauce. We left the tofu and just feasted on the eggplant and shiitake mushrooms, of which there were definitely not enough of. They should take the tofu away and double the amount of veggies in this dish - we would have gladly ate (and paid) more for it if they had done that.

The Peking duck-style stir fry with veggies didn't really taste like duck...could've been pork for all I knew. We might've been better getting the duck and mango or the crispy duck rolls off the small plates section if we wanted duck but this still was pretty good.
On a last-minute whim I decided I wanted one more dish so we ordered the double-cooked slices of Berkshire pork belly with cabbage and firm tofu. This dish was the most disappointing with overly dry slices of meat but the cabbage and sauce were redeeming. I think we would've been upset had we not had so much other delicious food.

We finished our meal with an overly-sweet yuzu posset with blackberry compote which was their take on a lemon meringue pie. 

And then the waitress came over with the bill, which we asked to split, and then she got confused and left, and so we figured out how much half of the bill was and told her when she came back, and then she got confused again and left and another guy came to charge our cards. WHEW. And then we went to meet up with AP (JPs brother) whose birthday was the next week!

Now having been here, I kinda wish JP and I had made it over to the Miami Hakkasan location. Next time. And note to self: their veggies and small plates are much better than the mains so stick to those.

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