8 Hanway Place
London W1T 1HD
020 7927 7000
Following our disastrous experience at Ping Pong, we were desperate for some proper dim sum. We’ve known about Hakkasan for ages now, but for some reason we’ve never gone there to try their food, despite it being just about a 15min walk from where we stay. Yauatcha has always been for us the gold standard for dim sum in London, and we thought it would be interesting to check out Hakkasan and see how it compares.
The décor in Hakkasan is gorgeous. There are large wooden panels all around, dividing the dining area into nice discreet segments, giving it a real sense of luxury and mystery. We were told that ‘photographs of their products’ are not allowed, while we were snapping at our first dish, which was a little annoying, but we kind of expected it anyway. Not too sure about the rationale behind this stupid policy, but we didn’t let it bother us.
Anyway, the first thing which arrived was the River Prawn Beancurd Roll. These were pretty good. The filling was really yummy, but the beancurd roll could have been a little crispier.
The Har Gau was quite a disappointment. Both of us thought that the prawns could have tasted a lot fresher. We didn’t think that it was delicate enough as well – very ordinary and far below the standard we were expecting. The Baked Venison Puff was also quite a letdown. We liked the puff, but we didn’t like the venison filling at all. It was too much a bastardization of East and West. While the puff pastry at Ping Pong reminded us of a Cornish pasty, it was the filling at Hakkasan that unfortunately did the same for us. What a shame.
However, everything else was really good. The Steamed Taro Cake, Assam Baby Cuttlefish and Beef Shumai we had were all very nice. Everything was exquisitely made and tasted lovely. If there was one negative thing about the dim sum in general, is that the flavours are slightly muted, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as they allow the natural flavours of the various components of the dishes to shine through. Indeed, most of the dishes were pretty sedated. K felt that there needed a little more seasoning, or spice, to give the food a little more edge. Take the Assam Baby Cuttlefish for example – as it was served to us it was really good – perfectly cooked cuttlefish (and a very generous portion to boot) with a well balanced assam sauce – however, a little more salt would have brought it even further and made it truly divine. Nevertheless, we appreciated that we could taste the natural flavours of the fresh ingredients in the dishes, and that they did not need to hide behind aggressive seasoning or spices. These were all fine examples of dim sum, and as the meal progressed we got used to the milder seasoning in the food.
We loved the Char Sui Bun – very homemade and very delicate, and the Gai Lan Cheung Fun was also top notch, with possible the most exquisitely thin Cheung Fun we’ve ever seen. More definitely needs to be said about this dish. This is one thing we wished we could have taken a photo of, because it looked stunning. The cheung fun was wonderfully translucent, and we knew the moment we looked at it that it would be a winner. Indeed it was outstanding. The cheung fun was so thin and delicate that you barely noticed it was there. Nevertheless it was strong enough to hold the filling as you slid it from the plate to your spoon and into your mouth, where it just melted away. Seriously good stuff.
Our final dish was the Salted Fish Rice (weekends only). By this time we were really full, but the moment our server lifted the lid off the claypot, all our appetites rushed back to us. The dish smelt heavenly. This was one dish that no one in their right mind could call ‘lacking in flavour’. The chunks of ‘corn fed chicken’ were tender and juicy, and the salted fish was magical. Mixed in with the rice, it provided a burst of salty goodness with every bite. There was a very nice charred layer of rice one the bottom as well – on thing to always look for in claypot rice. This was probably the best claypot rice we’ve ever eaten in London, and it is one thing we highly recommend ordering at Hakkasan. Hell, we’ll even go back just for it.
[This post was written immediately after our visit to Hakkasan, but has remained unpublished for about a month now. Since then we’ve been craving the salted fish rice so much that we’ve been back twice! Each time we’ve gone back we’ve ordered the Cheung Fun and the Salted Fish Rice without fail, and they’ve always been mind blowing, just like the first time we had it – consistency, always a good thing. We’ve tried a couple other dishes in the dim sum menu as well, and they’ve mainly been fantastic (except the mango scallop spring rolls – absolutely tasteless). In particular, the Poached Peking Dumpling is a favourite, and the blend of salty, tangy and spicy flavours just excites the palate everytime. On our first repeat visit we sneakily took a photo of the Salted Fish Rice, so here it is!!!]
Service: 7.5/10, but allow photos dammit!