Hakkasan – The Lunch Menu

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.

Dim sum platter

Dim sum platter

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Tamarai

For a taste of nightclub dining, I recently tried Tamarai at their invitation. Billed as a pan-Asian restaurant and bar, it also morphs into a club at 11pm with a DJ and a 3am licence.

As befits a nightclub, the décor is dark and dimly lit with lots of well spaced plush seating. But it felt a little tired and probably could do with some refreshing.

Caramelised Szechuan pepper king prawns (£16) was seductively good for the fat, meaty and tasty jumbo-sized prawns. There wasn’t anything particularly Szechuanese about the dish, no real hint of heat or spiciness, but there was a lovely sweetness coming through from the caramelisation effect.

Caramelised Szechuan pepper king prawns

Caramelised Szechuan pepper king prawns

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Bar Shu: A Definite Shu-In

Note: This write-up was based on a dinner I had before the fire earlier in 2009 which closed the restaurant for a number of months. The restaurant has since re-opened.

The mouth-watering chicken at Bar Shu

The mouth-watering chicken at Bar Shu

Walking down Frith Street to my destination of Bar Shu, a Sichuan (Szechuan) restaurant, I happened to notice Barrafina. But then Barrafina is rather hard to miss. With big glass windows, shiny white walls, plenty of elegantly dressed people perched high up on bar stools, it generally seems to sport an all round hip n’ happening crowd. It’s won many plaudits, but after the success the Hart brothers (Sam and Eddie) had with Fino, this was bound to be a sure thing. I would rather like to eat there, but one key factor has always held me back – their no bookings policy. Despite having shown my face at Barrafina on a couple of previous occasions, I was unable to secure a table without a very protracted wait and have invariably ended up leaving.

No doubt I would have enjoyed eating there tonight. So mark a no reservations policy as a major dislike in my world of dining out. But for those restaurants that do take reservations, just as irritating can be time restrictions, when you’re told after making a booking that they need the table back after two hours. It’s irritating because who would want the indignity of being rushed through a meal that you’re going to pay for?

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