I’ve always had a bit of a love hate relationship with the original Hakkasan in Hanway Place – loved its food, hated its prices. But it has long been my opinion that it demonstrates a consistently high level of cooking worthy of the Michelin Star it was awarded back in 2003 (and continues to hold to this day). If I had to recommend just one fine dining Chinese restaurant in London to someone, Hakkasan would undoubtedly be it.
Having not been for almost 2 years, we thought it was about time we paid Hakkasan another visit, opting, instead of the original, to give its recently opened second restaurant on Bruton Street in Mayfair a try for Chinese New Year’s eve dinner.
The interior of the new Mayfair restaurant is pretty much identical to the original – dark, mysterious, vibrant – it just exudes cool.
The starters were very good. Golden Fried Soft Shell Crab with Red Chilli and Curry Leaf was excellent. Sesame Prawn Toast with Foie Gras was a hit too; the unusual combination working surprisingly well. The Jasmine Tea Smoked Ribs also came in on the plus side of the scorecard, albeit with a lower score than the other two starters – it was nice, but nothing special; the Jasmine Tea taste not coming through quite strongly enough.
The main courses were a bit of a mixed bag. Roast Duck with Black Truffles was lovely. Black truffle, you will not be surprised to learn, is an ingredient not commonly used in Chinese cooking. It worked very well here however, making for an unusual, flavourful, outstanding dish. Roasted Silver Cod with Champagne and Chinese Honey was a more familiar combination, but no less successful – this was an excellent version and got my vote for dish of the night. Mongolian Lamb Chops were bland, dry, slightly over-cooked and added nothing to the meal. Roast Chicken with Satay Sauce was a poor recommendation by our waitress – the chicken too similar in taste and texture to the roast duck dish, the overall dish wholly unmemorable.
We added an order of the dim sum platter at the end – Scallop Shumai was good, filled with a succulent juicy prawn and topped with a fresh scallop (although I am partial to the traditional Pork Siu Mai); the Har Gau wrapper was far too thick and certainly fell way below the standard I would expect from an establishment such as this; the Shimeji Dumpling and Chinese Chive Dumpling were more refined versions of something I would get at Ping Pong – and I do not consider Ping Pong to be a good dim sum restaurant.
Dessert was totally not worth our while. We sampled the Chestnut and Blackcurrant Tart, Caramelised White Chocolate Parfait, and Jivara Hazelnut Bomb – all were very average…at best.
In a nutshell…
Middling. Mildly disappointing when compared to what I remember of the original Hakkasan in Fitzrovia. A few good dishes mixed in with a lot of mediocrity and a couple of dishes that fell even below that level.
17 Bruton Street, London, W1J 6QB
Average Price: £50-£60