Food Blog | Cooking Blog
Hakkasan, Hanway Place, has got to be the next whistestop for everyone and anyone in London looking for a Sunday lunch spot to take someone they love. From 12 midday until 6:45 pm, the renowned hub of Cantonese cuisine offers a range of dim sum winter menus to offer you bitesized samples of the restaurant's most popular dishes whilst accommodating all of your personal preferences. One November Sunday, my sister and I embarked on the magnificent journey that was the Signature Sunday menu: a 6 course dim sum menu including pre- and post- meal cocktail, as well as a bottle of Louis Roederer Premium NV Champagne at an astonishing £58 pp. Translated as "touching the heart", dim sum embodies the classic Chinese ritual of eating miniature dishes that have been meticulously prepared. Steamed, fried, grilled or baked, the dim sum featuring on Hakkasan's menu really do span all Westernised Cantonese cuisine. What is more, the restaurant embraces the darker days of winter and the crisp weather with a new seasonal food and cocktail menu; chef Ho Hip Wah celebrates Autumnal ingredients and recommends wintery drinks to accompany what is on your plate. The ambience is sleek and elegant, and the clientele includes glamorous trendies about to sample the menus and listen to the background music of the resident live DJ. Fun, fine dining at its best.
Our first course constituted a crispy duck salad with pink and yellow pomelo, pine nuts and shallots. Lightly tossed in a sweet hoisin dressing, the field greens combined with shards of red radish and red onion to give the provide the perfect bed of veggies for the crispy peking duck. Once our waiter had shredded the duck and tossed the constituent parts of the salad together, it became apparent that it was really quite a generous portion! The duck was braised in Chines five spice and deep fried, boasting that classic cripsy crust that fellow fans of a good peking duck pancake will know and love. The soft juicy flesh was a welcome burst of variety in the hodgepodge of otherwise dry ingredients, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the tart flesh of the pomello a welcome addition to the sweet and toasty pine nut-duck-hoisin combination of flavour. So far, so good...
Next came the steamed dumplings. Now, there is a reason this is what this place is famous for. Vibrant and beautifully presented parcels of a sophisticated blend of nuanced flavours in bite size rice paper packaging - warm, bitesize and each one more tasty than the last. The selection included four types of dumpling. First, there were scallop shu mai, which were light and bouncy in texture, the sweetness of the scallop matched well by the dollop garnish of raw salty salmon roe. Next, there were har gau, small balls of shredded shrimp meat bound with chives, coriander and curry leaves, encompassed by pinches of translucent rice paper.Then, there were the luminescent green Chinese chive dumplings with prawn and crab meat. These, together with the celery prawn dumplings, were particularly interesting as they were more like soup dumplings - each containing a liquidy broth of ultra-finely chopped shellfish. The chive dumplings were garnished gorgeously with a dried goji berry, which made a surprisingly potent contribution to the overall flavour combo. Only complaint here? One of each simply is naaaaaaat enough.
The fried stuff is everyone's favourite, anybody objectors are plain lying. The platter of fried and baked dim sum included seafood glutinous seaweed rolls, baked venison puffs, crispy smoked duck and pumpkin puffs, and golden radish crab meat pastries. The seafood glutinous rolls felt particularly indulgent, comprising a roe topped maki roll that had been deep fried in tempura batter. Glutinous, indeed. My favourite of the four, though, had to be the baked venison puffs: light and airy puff pastry pockets filled with rare dices of venison and spring onions in hoisin sauce. I wouldn't give the crab pastries a miss either - undeniably impressive displays of rice paper artistry, each individual pastry boasts a millefeille-like structure which is light, crispy and absolutely mouth watering. Hubba bubba. A perfectly delicate way to enjoy five-spiced crab meat.
For our "small eat", we chose salt and pepper squid in favour of a fried aubergine and eryngii mushroom with crispy oat. For two calamari fanatics, it was the right decision: the portion was generous, and each shard of squid was soft, succulent and evenly coated in an light and oilless batter (although the aubergine may be a better option for those slightly more averse to spices) Immediately following our demolition of this dish arrived our "big eat" - a grilled Chilean sea bass with honey (chosen over a wok-fried XO lamb chop). Being a white oily fish, bass benefits enormously from grilling; the exterior becomes crispy and takes on a charred flavour, yet the flesh of the fish remains moist and tender throughout. The flakes fall apart with such ease that they are almost impossible to tackle with a pair of chopsticks, and the rich honey glaze makes each mouthful totally and utterly mouthwatering. Topped with gorgeous tempura eryngii mushrooms and atop a bed of pak choi - this is one not to be missed. Enjoyed with a delicious selection of sides: steamed pak choi in oyster sauce and egg fried rice with peanuts. Mmm hmm.
By the arrival of desert, as I'm sure you can imagine, we were nearing the point of appetite saturation - but thank goodness the portions were small and delicious enough to be accommodated! I enjoyed a modern take on apple tatin, a bar of wafer thin slices of caremalized apples, stacked like the pastry sheets that make up a millefeuille. Topped with smashed toffee pecans and almonds and served alongside a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream, the desert was refined, light and delicate. My sister went for something equally indulgent, a chocolate and kalamansi ganache - which was, essentially, a dense disc of chocolatey richness on a bed of finely crushed chocolate biscuit. The plate was beautiful if anything else (see gold bauble and toffee wafer garnishings, anyone know how to replicate those?) - it took her a few minutes to build up the courage to break into the work of art. We both opted for the recommended accompanying cocktails: me, a Charentais Toddy (Hennessy Fine de Cognac, cardamon, cloves and cinnamon, served warm) and my sister, a Fitzrovia Plum (Santory Hakushu 12 year whisky, plum sake, limoncello, gingerbread and burlesque bitters). Both were delicious, and by the time they were finished, we were well and truly drunk. What a meal!