I’ve scheduled a couple of posts to go out as I make my merry way from London to Singapore and, in anticipation of my months-long adventure, I suppose it’s rather appropriate-ish-kinda that my swansong to London blogging – until 2016 – details a visit to Hakkasan Mayfair, Michelin-starred modern Cantonese cuisine.
I’ve been jonesing to go to Hakkasan Mayfair for a long while now. My first experience of the restaurants of the revered Hakkasan Group was not long after I moved to London and sampled the delights of Sake No Hana in Mayfair. To this day, it remains one of my favourite restaurants in London; not least because of the delicate ambience when enjoying an intimate, long lunch. Equally, I enjoyed a trip to Yauatcha in Soho to welcome in the Chinese New Year back in February; so you can imagine I had high hopes for their flagship restaurant, Hakkasan Mayfair (as opposed to the Hanway Place branch).
After work, I found Holly propping up the Hakkasan bar (with a mocktail, no less; she was having a virgin night). The first thing I noticed was how much busier this place is, when compared to its sister destinations. The second was the polite welcome from the well-coifed women in the reception (remarkably consistent across the three restaurants mentioned in this post). The third was the decor and ambience. Not quite to my personal taste, it reminded me of something out of Sex and the City; a dated reference, perhaps, but an indicative one (as much as I’m loathe to say it, due to the kind hospitality of the hosts and hostesses). The tables are close, the acoustics are loud and it’s all very… bustling. Certainly something that others may seek in a mid-week city dinner; but I’m far too country and like a little relaxation. A slower pace, a little more room and a quieter set-up would have suited me down to the ground.
As Hakkasan Mayfair is currently in the throes of Golden Week celebrations (from now until October 18th), we sampled the dim sum dishes – lychee and lobster, a prawn/crab/cod fusion, Dover sole (with a dash of black truffle – mm) and a rare fish that I’d never heard of called abalone, topped with a tiny swab of caviar. Our charming host for the evening gave us a little background on each bite and apparently, whole abalone cost £380 apiece! It had the taste to match, though (if any taste can match such extravagence). Despite the fact that the other three dim sum were infallible, it stood out even among such strong competition. Definitely one to order, should you head down yourself – and wait until after you’ve eaten to do a Google Image search on what it looks like in its living state… terrified but tasty
Also to celebrate Golden Week, I tried their bespoke Golden Iced Tea cocktail – a six-spirit medley of Diplomatic Reserva Rum, Belvedere vodka, Tapatio Reposado tequila, Tanqueray No. 10, Cointreau, orchid tea syrup, peach bitters and Champagne. That’s a mouthful – har har, oh how I crack myself up. I think they must have discovered Holly wasn’t on the sauce for the evening and decided to double it up for me. Hakkasan, you naughty little wreck heads. For those who like a sweet cocktail, it was certainly an interesting taste. I take my booze a little drier, though; so our host kindly swapped my cocktail for something almost fuchsia in colour, which came from a personal recommendation. I was apprehensive, but it was smooth as sin. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned acoustics, I could hardly hear him and after asking a few times what was in it, I gave up.
Our mains were out of this world – some of the best dishes I’ve had in a long time. We shared their signature beef in a rice cage, as well as a cod fillet cooked in champagne and honey. I’ve been sitting here pondering how to describe the latter but honestly, all I can say is it was a dream for those with a sweet tooth. Succulent and thick, the sauce was laid onto tender cod – another must-order dish. drool
Finishing up, we had a duo-dessert of what was essentially a giant Ferrero Rocher with hot chocolate sauce and praline ice cream in the centre (decadent and rich – but I still managed to make room) and a plate of their signature macaroons. Although the Hakkasan Group’s macaroons are renowned, and I’ve never known anyone to react with anything but an admission that they are the best they’ve ever tasted, I’m personally a little bored of them. So for that reason alone, the giant Fererro Rocher won my heart (particularly as the sommelier came over to ply me with matching port for each of them).
Due to my penchant for peacefulness, I’d have liked to have the same experience on a Tuesday afternoon as opposed to an evening where the city-types descend upon Hakkasan Mayfair en masse. Alas, I still had a 9-5 at the time of my visit. Pesky job, always getting in the way of my fine dining. All in all, Hakkasan was a sweet affair – the food, the drink and the service. If that floats your boat, you can enjoy the Golden Week menu at Hakkasan Hanway Place and Hakkasan Mayfair for £88.88 each, in tradition with China’s lucky number eight. Parties must be two or more, so get yourself on Tinder pronto if you don’t already have a date!
I’d like to thank the staff at Hakkasan Mayfair for inviting Holly and me to their Golden Week celebrations. Holly, too, wrote up her thoughts on the evening – you can check that out here. All photos are courtesy of she; as I only bought my GoPro for the occasion. Note to self: GoPros are not great for busy, dark restaurants.