Hakkasan celebrates the Year of the Dog with a fabulous Chinese New Year offering
Ring in the Chinese New Year with the Michelin-starred restaurant's London outposts in Mayfair and Hanway Place
I first went to Hakkasan on the opening night of its inaugural London restaurant and since then it's been encouraging to see the empire spread throughout the world. The first spot, though, in the tucked-away corner of Hanway Place remains the original and still the best. Indeed, it's one of the few Asian restaurants in the capital to hold a Michelin star.
Discreet, sexy and still booked up every night of the week, Hakkasan has kept its cool cachet while other 'hot' restaurants have burned bright and then fizzled away. Ultimately it's the great dining experience on offer that's seen customers coming back. It combines incredible customer service with a technically flawless food offering and a speakeasy vibe, helped by the addition of cool DJs at the weekend and door pickers who ensure that - if you're a walk-up - then only London's hippest types should attempt to make it past the velvet ropes.
Right now there's even more of a reason to visit as the restaurant is running a superb special Chinese New Year menu across its two London outposts in Mayfair and Hanway Place. I spent a happy couple of hours sampling some of the dishes on offer - as well as making a traditional written New Year's 'wish' which was hung up in the restaurant - and I can report that this restaurant is still absolutely on point.
Kicking off with Szechuan oyster with lotus root and crispy rice in mantau (the oyster traditionally symbolising fortune and good luck), I also enjoyed braised beef tongue and caramelised walnut with asparagus and mint and crispy scallop in sweet plum sauce with mango in a golden cup. This is high-level cooking which looked as good as it tasted, with every aspect tweaked and teased just so. The meticulousness was all the more impressive, given that the restaurant was absolutely heaving on a cold Wednesday night. >>
The modern interpretation of traditional Cantonese food continued with baked Chilean sea bass with kumquat glaze (eating fish at Chinese New Year is said to bring increased prosperity - here's hoping) and abalone fried rice in bean curd wrap with Chinese sausage and shiitake mushroom. This contained fai cai (fat choy), an ingredient which in Chinese means to 'get rich and grow wealth'. Wok-fried native lobster in superior stock with edamame and caviar followed, while Rhug estate organic lamb in seaweed soy with celery and enoki mushroom had me groaning with pleasure.
Add in some excellent desserts, plus a specially created cocktail for the occasion, and you have a Chinese meal like no other. For those looking to book, keep in mind that Hakkasan will honour traditions to see in the Year of the Dog in the form of live dancers.
Authentic Chinese lion dancers will perform at Hakkasan Hanway Place on 18 February and Hakkasan Mayfair on 25 February. These high energy performances offer symbolic expressions of luck, prosperity and good fortune. If, like me, it's been a while since you visited one of the capital's best Chinese restaurants then this is your golden opportunity. Because Hakkasan is still happening.
The exclusive menu will be available at Hakkasan Hanway Place and Hakkasan Mayfair from 29 January to 4 March 2018.