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    Thursday, 12 May 2016

    HAKKASAN, HANWAY PLACE

    If you're ever looking to buy me a present, buying me a restaurant voucher will always be a winner. I much prefer having experiences rather than 'things' and it's always nice to try out new places when you don't have to foot all of the bill! 

    One such place is Hakkasan. I've heard a real mix of reviews about London's Hakkasan - some people LOVE it and rave about the food, but there's also a camp of people who think it's far over-rated. For the prices they charge in there, I was never fully convinced if it was worth a visit but when I left my last job, they bought me a £100 voucher for the restaurant so it was the perfect opportunity to go and try it out for myself.   
    I've been to the Hakksan in Las Vegas so I kind of knew the sort of vibe to expect when we arrived. Everything is very sleek, dark and intimate but with a real buzzy atmosphere - especially on a Saturday night, which is when we visited. 

    After taking our seats in a cosy corner of the main restaurant, we planned our assault on the food and decided to opt for one of the premium tasting menus. With £100 off our total bill, this seemed a good way of trying out exactly what Hakkasan had to offer. 

    We started off with a glass of Champagne and a serving of the peking duck which came topped with caviar and served on mini pancakes with spring onion and cucumber. A very classy take on traditional duck pancakes and I was impressed that we both had our own portions of 3, rather than having to share (typical greedy me!)
    Next up was a portion of soft shell crab topped with crispy egg threads. Hakkasan were generous with the meaty chunks of crab which were perfectly cooked in a light tempura batter but the egg threads were a real surprise star of the dish. They reminded me of sea-weed but worked perfectly with the crab to provide a little kick of heat and texture.
    For the fish course we had a Chilean sea-bass in a light honey sauce which was one of my favourite dishes of the night, wonderfully cooked fish which just flaked apart and was perfectly balanced with the crunch from the deep fried mushrooms.
    The stir-fried lobster which came in a spicy black bean sauce was...okay. It was nice but I wasn't blown away by it. I kind of feel that with the wealth of 'affordable' lobster restaurants in London these days, lobster has sort of lost it's bragging rights. It's still delicious - don't get me wrong - but you need to be doing something a bit more exciting with the whole dish rather than just relying on the fact it contains lobster to wow people?After a promising start, our meal hit a bit of speed bump on the mains. One of the big disappointments for us was the wagyu beef - which I'd expected to be the main event. If you order this from the a la carte menu, it's £66 which seems extraordinarily steep for the portion which came up. 

    Not only was it small but it was overcooked and nothing like the brilliant wagyu I'd tried at HKK. I felt really let down by this dish, especially considering it was one of the dishes that swayed us towards the more expensive set menu aswell. 
    Although props to Hakkasan on impressing me with the rice. I'm not usually a rice person (weird I know) but I really enjoyed the mui choi glutinous rice which came alongside our mains.

    My main bug-bear with rice is that it's so fiddly to eat (see also: peas!) but as this had a nice sticky texture I actually got on well with it - plus the flavour was incredible and really helped liven up some of the dishes.Alongside these mains we also had the stir-fried peking duck in XO sauce and a trio of mushroom dish which we did actually enjoy! I didn't manage to get any pictures of these - I think we were caught up in eating when they arrived but I was pretty impressed.

    The duck was a little too similar to the lobster dish in that they were both stir-fries with similar ingredients so it might have been nice to have a little more variety but the taste was good with lots of heat in the XO sauce so I can't complain too much!
    Hakkasan saved face after my earlier disappointments by stepping up with the desserts which were a real treat. The spiced plum pot wasn't something I would normally go for but I really enjoyed,especially with the vanilla madelines which we used to scoop up all the delicious filling.

    I also enjoyed the milk chocolate and cashew parfait - who doesn't love a dessert that explodes as you cut into it?
    So there you have it - a bit of a mixed experience for us. The service on the night was okay (although being served a dirty wine glass in a Michelin starred restaurant doesn't seem up to scratch?)

    Food wise, Hakkasan didn't quite deliver for me. At over £300, it was one of the priciest meals I've ever had and with that in mind, you'd expect for it to be one of the best. Our meal at Roka last year came in at around £80 less and was, in my opinion far better. I can honestly say that meal at Roka was one of the best I've ever eaten and makes the eye-watering price-tags a little more bearable.

    Maybe we should have ordered individual dishes from the main menu but hey, I'm glad I've been to try it for myself and it certainly hasn't put me off the Hakkasan Group all together, I've heard Yauatcha is brilliant and is far more purse friendly so I think I'll be heading in that direction next time instead!

    Hakkasan
    8 Hanway Place
    London,  W1T 1HD
    Hakkasan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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