Friday, 21 November 2008

Hakkasan review - dim sum with a Micheline star


Hakkasan+review+londonThe next time you chance upon a London guide book, flip to the recommended section for Chinese food in London and you will almost certain to find the two biggest dim sum names in London : Hakkasan and Yauatcha.

Incidentally, both of these restaurants are opened up by the same person (Alan Yau) and have a single Micheline star (the last time I checked). There's where the similarities end. So how do these two Chinese culinary titans measure up? Are they really as good as they are purported to be?

Hakkasan

Reviews of this restaurant have always mentioned that it is hard to find. I didn't know how bad it was until I spent around twenty minutes milling round the area until I realised that I had walked past the place thrice before.

Hakkasan-londonWalking into the main restaurant itself is like entering a dungeon and the entire restaurant is lit up by a handful of strategically placed down lights. With the dim lighting, you can't really see much beyond the food being served to your table, which looks kind of inviting with two 40W spotlights trained on it.

The 'Hakkasan' experience ends prematurely when the food was served. Though it is way better than the Chinese restaurants along Baywater and Leicester Square, it is by no means out of this world. We were surprised that some dishes arrive in melamine plates instead of porcelain or at least ceramic ones.

Hakkasan-londonHowever, there is one dim sum that you must absolutely try - the vegetarian cheong fun. Normally, we would have ordered the char siew (roast pork) variety but we ordered this instead when the former was sold out… at 1.30pm. But the vegetarian variety got us clamouring for more. If only the same could be said the rest of the dim sum.

The typical dim sum goes for £4-5 per serving, which was a bit pricey compared to the many dim sum restaurants that dot the capital, perhaps with the exception of China Tang, which claims to serve msg-free dim sum. We ordered some staple dim sum and a couple of dishes that the waitress recommended. The bill came up just over £90 (inclusive of service charge) and that was without wine.

Hakkasan-londonAll in all, Hakkasan is more about the presentation rather than the food. Unless you are someone who values ambiance above taste, Hakkasan should not be your top choice dim sum restaurant in London.

So how does Yauatcha compare with Hakkasan? Look out for it in the next post.

Address: 8 Hanway Place, London, W1T 1HF
Tel: 0871 2238002 (reservation necessary)
Nearest Tube station: Tottenham Court Road

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £35 pp
Taste: ***
Service: *****
Ambience: *****
Suitable for: impressing your parents-in-law and clients

Hakkasan on Urbanspoon

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3 comments:

aunkangleong said...

yeah I agree with you - a real shame about hakkasan. I think it's now sold off to a russian businessman as yau is no longer at the helm ...and the food has since gone down the drain.

Hakkasan used to be awesome, when they had the lobster rolls, which were whole lobster tails wrapped in cucumber slices and in a savoury and hearty broth.

They even used to do these wonderfully fresh and forward melong creme brulees ... and dun even get me started on the whole scallops.

but that was then, now it's just expensive mediocre chinese food that is no better than wong kei at 10x the price.

Great start on yer foodblog by the way! Come pay me a visit sometime too at http://londoneater.com

kang.

C K said...

@kang,
Hi there, actually I've been stumbling your posts for quite some time now (as "ckwoo"). Great site you have there by the way.

I didn't know about the transfer of ownership. Like I said, I don't think it's worth the hype.

Will go try out Wong Kei. Cheers!

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