Posted on Friday, 12th October 2012
I used to love the food at Hakkasan, not to mention their specialty cocktail, the Hakka, so much so that I use to be a semi-regular at the restaurant. Founded by Alan Yau who fused sexy interior design with high-end Chinese food, he created something iconic on the London dining scene. Alan Yau sold his majority share of Hakkasan to an Abu-Dhabi based company in 2008, and since then branches of Hakkasan have sprung up all over the shop with one in Mayfair, four in the US, two in the Middle East and one in Mumbai.
It was difficult to believe that standards would stay the same with the change in management even though it has still managed to hold onto its star. I haven’t been back to Hakkasan since the sale, and to test the waters, we decided to try their three-course set lunch menu (£29). The first course of dim sum platter contained a beef ball, a steamed scallop dumpling, a char sui sou (pork with flaky pastry) and a deep-fried pork ball.
The beef ball was very authentic, and the scallop dumpling was excellent with a very well made semi-translucent pastry. The flaky pastry on the char sui sou was also very good and proved extremely light, even if it was a little burnt. It lacked for filling though, and the deep-fried pork ball wasn’t great either.
From five options in the main courses, we went for the grilled Chilean sea bass with honey, which was excellent. The fish was moist and flaky, and the honey glaze was superbly done.
However spicy prawns with lily bulb and almonds was underwhelming. The prawns were nice, but the ‘spicy’ curry sauce tasted as if it was made from curry powder, the kind you might get in a Chinese take-away. A choice of rice and a veg dish came as accompaniments to the mains.
Dessert of strawberries and cream with elderflower jelly, vanilla pannacotta and elderflower sorbet looked every bit the Michelin dessert – tasty and neatly done.
The service was a let down, being somewhat grumpy, unfriendly and sloppy. And the lunch sitting went far too slowly, lasting over 2 hours when the restaurant was not even busy.
There were some tasty items to be had, but it wasn’t an entirely impressive experience. It was good for a lunch that only cost £29, but there wasn’t enough in this meal to convince me that the a la carte menu would be a worthy of a one-star Michelin label and therefore worth splashing the cash on. Hakkasan just isn’t what it use to be.
Lunch Menu Rating: 3.5/5
Service Rating: 2.5/5