When people ask me what my favourite restaurant in London is, it is hard for me to answer. Each year I update a top ten restaurants in London list and it seems like the pointy end of the list is in a constant state of flux. MTV boyfriend has no such problems. His favourite restaurant for the last four years has been Hakkasan. “The food is good and it has got atmosphere and really good cocktails,” he says. While it may no longer be cutting edge, I have to admit on all those counts he is right.
|Stir fry Peking duck|
Despite the fit out being a few years old now Hakkasan still has the wow factor when you descend the stairs into the darkened room. It looks like it could be some sort of high class opium den in the heart of Hong Kong. Unlike the formal atmosphere of most Michelin star restaurants it is bustling and noisy and slightly chaotic. There is a great bar area where you can kick your night off with a few cocktails. On our most recent visit to celebrate our friends Charlotte and Sully’s engagement we loved the ginger cocktail while the Japanese breakfast cocktail which contained tomato juice and olives was not actually as weird as the ingredient mix sounded (it tasted a little like gazpacho).
|Aubergine and tofu clay pot|
Hakkasan is the sort of restaurant where prices range widely from reasonably priced and brilliant dishes such as the simple tofu, aubergine and mushroom claypot (£12.50) to exorbitant abalone concoctions.
|Silver cod roasted in champagne|
From the tipping the bill end of the scale, Hakkasan’s signature silver cod roasted in champagne (£34) was a must order for us despite the hefty price tag. The cod was silken and dripped with the thick, rich champagne sauce. We teamed it with a side order of sauteed morning glory (£8.50) which was crisp and slightly sweet and some crunchy deep fried squid which was addictively moreish.
We shared two desserts between the table of the warm coconut rice pudding with mango caviar and black sesame crunch (£8) and a refined apple tart which featured a tower of puff pastry topped with ice cream. Both were spectacular looking and caused me to challenge my general philosophy of not ordering dessert in Chinese restaurants.
|Dim sum platter|
Not everything was perfect. The annoying two hour time limit at tables was enforced and on the food front the dim sum platter (£12.50) was overly steamed leaving the dumplings on the soggy side. However, despite the sale of Hakkasan by Alan Yau to an Abu Dhabi-based company in 2008, the restaurant continues to be a good option for a special night out in London. Perhaps I should listen to MTV boyfriend occasionally.
Details: Hakkasan, 8 Hanway Place, Soho, W1T 1HD (Ph +44 (0) 207 927 7000) Tube: Tottenham Court Road
Damage: Pricey. Our bill came to £80 a head but we were celebrating.
Category: Michelin Star, Restaurants - Chinese, W1T