Chinese New Year. While not a public holiday in London (I would be keen to change that), there is something pretty special about celebrating it. (FYI This year is Year of the Monkey which signifies intelligence.)
It is the hope and potential for the start of something good and special and to me, nothing says special like a Michelin starred tasting menu at HKK (Part of the Hakkasan Group).
HKK is like the fine whiskey drinking older uncle of Hakkasan that is equally exceptional, but with an air of refinery.
What sets HKK and indeed Hakkasan apart is the extra mile attention to detail.
Each diner is given a red book on arrival, explaining every dish and what they signify. At the end, the chef comes to your table and stamps your book with his seal to commemorate your experience.
Now, I am not saying that other restaurants don’t celebrate CNY, but I doubt highly that you’d get your new year approved in wax anywhere else.
Before we begin… take a deep breath and prepare yourself. In keeping with the Chinese lucky number 8 (incidentally also my lucky number) There are 8 courses. But these are not nibbles… Bù, xiānshēng! (No sir!). These dishes are small enough to convince yourself that you don’t have to join the gym immediately afterwards but large enough to know that you are definitely lying to yourself.
We started with the Prosperity platter. Noodles, salmon skin, vegetables and gold leaf garnish because, well because Gold leaf makes everything better, served with insanely good pork belly bites. The salad is mixed by everyone for wellbeing and success for the year.
Next, the Tai Ji supreme seafood soup for health & long life. Usually, I shy away from soups… Frankly in my mind soup is merely chunky water (Don’t get me started on pho). However, because of the very generous portion of crabmeat, Kumquat and vegetarian sharks-fin (soy), it was more of a delicious thick stew (Hence the “Balance and Harmony” of the yin & yang design).
We then had the Dumpling trilogy… Oh the Dumpling trilogy. It consisted of one dover sole dim sum, one scallop dim sum and one little puff of “blow your mind” in the form of an Abalone and Chicken pastry. If you don’t know what abalone is… Get to know… This came with a nice little paintbrush to add soy sauce.
Now. Gather your thoughts and loosen your waistband… Roasted cherry wood Peking duck. Everyone likes duck. If you don’t then don’t speak to me. But when it is done exceptionally well, there are few things better…
Carved by the chef at the table, this was not just a dish, but a bit of theatre. This duck was so fresh, it was like it had flown to my plate via a kiln.
Served as duck breast, crispy duck skin and duck roll… It was unlikely anything would be able to make an impression after the gradual Canard Coma I was slipping into…. Wrong.
Oh, Hi there Lobster noodles with XO sauce.
I love lobster and especially in rich sauce. This was super soft and “just cooked” to retain its softness and flavour, and the XO sauce? Woof! Basically, a delicious spicy Hong Kong seafood sauce.
Finally, the Sichuan Mala Lamb. Incredibly tender and delicate for lamb. What is more surprising is that I still had room for dessert.
Dessert was Vanilla and mandarin dumpling, osmanthus and orange infusion. Super light and had the consistency of wafer thin white chocolate without the heavy flavour.
Next was the best dessert. Green apple parfait, cardamom cake and crispy apple noodle. Why? Because despite looking light and crisp, it was actually far more decadent. The cardamom cake was excellent….
Finally, when you feel as if your senses are all over the place…. As irony would have it, they bring the Tray of Togetherness. A selection of petit fours. We couldn’t have been happier with the salted caramel chocolate and the sweet butter pastry.
So, if you could do with a New Year restart or just need a cultural excuse to eat 8 delicious courses, make this your resolution…
HKK – 88 Worship St, London EC2A 2BE