Hashtag Life Magazine Reviews HKK by Hakkasan
Any restaurant by the Hakkasan Group needs no introduction. So as I walked in and was greeted by the words “welcome to HKK”, I blushed a little, at the seemingly special treatment that was all in my head. One could be fooled, however, because this treatment continued. The latest restaurant by the group, offers Chinese fine dining, and was awarded a Michelin star in 2013. The tasting menus created by Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee offer everything from Seared Wagyu beef with coffee barbecue sauce and Passion fruit jelly with lychee tapioca. With ten courses to sample, I was unsure I was going to make it to my lychee tapioca, but I was ready and set for the endurance test as we took our seats.
I was having dinner with my senior manager, a foodie, an idol to the socialite in me, and a lover of champagne. What could go wrong? Awkward silences could. I had come completely unprepared. Everything I wanted to discuss evaporated via anxious thought-bubbles into the crisp, clean airy surroundings at HKK. I could feel my anxiety polluting their air, and it needed to stop.
“What would you like to drink Miss Malek?”
“Champagne please” I squeaked.
With the tiny bubbles reaffirming my theory that the elements inside HKK form the finest particles possible, I relaxed to take in the menu. Suddenly there was something very new to be anxious about – however on earth I was going to choose just ten courses from the menu before me.
Everything at HKK melts in your mouth. The menu itself, in fact, would probably melt too, but I wasn’t about to start grazing on cardboard to test this theory. That said, the Dim Sum trilogy of Canadian Scallops and Truffle Dumplings must be the first of your sample set. Dumpling no. 1 was already mid-way to my mouth when I was interrupted with “aren’t you going to brush on the sauce?” I reverse-geared the chop sticks, closed my mouth, and picked up my brush. The sweet glaze is certainly worth it, complimenting the light, aromatic and soy flavors within the dumpling.
I feel it necessary to skip a couple of courses to discuss the duck. I happened across a review recently, which stated that the only dish they didn’t enjoy was the duck, because it was ‘a bit greasy.’ Firstly, star or no star, this is a Chinese restaurant after all. If you receive duck as dry as the vegetables it’s been served with, ameliorated only by its plus one of gravy, then congratulations, you’ve just walked into a pub. You just simply cannot be counting calories when eating any form of Chinese food. The Cherry Wood Roasted Peking Duck is not only visually stunning in presentation, but stunning in all its saturates as well. Soft and succulent, coated by a thin, crisp layer of skin, it, like its preceding courses, also melts to the touch. We paired this with the German sourced 2013 Pinot Noir, now building up the palette for, well, “more, sir.”
Oliver Twist however, would not have been introduced to more in the form of a 2004 Rioja, with 36 month oak aging. A complex white wine, with apricot, peach and honey notes leads perfectly onto their Baked Chilean Seabass in Black Truffle Sauce. The crumbling Seabass was followed by what I believe to be a “cleansing” dish (or so I consoled myself, as I switched my food conscience off for course number 7).
It is my firm belief that any fast love affair is often stunted by a belated discovery that you didn’t see coming – it’s all going swimmingly until you’re winded by that big blow as you discover that he paints his toenails on weekends in, or that she plays the oboe to the tune of a sea-animal’s cries at 6 am before work, et cetera et cetera. So although the course of Wagyu Beef was not quite comparable to an oboe in the ear, I was slightly disappointed to find it’d had the very beef smoked out of it. I am not averse to a light smoking, grilling, or baking, but the mode by which your meat has been cooked, should never override the taste of that meat. In this case, I did feel as though if I puffed, smoke would emerge.
I was a little nervous then, when the Apple Jelly and Pepper Ice Cream, was next to be sampled, as I resisted uttering the words “but, with no, erm, pepper please.” As expected you can hardly taste it, and so would be excellent for one of those blind-folded tasting games, you could be certain you’d win, as the closest guess would be “I think I can taste liquorice?”
I have a confession, and that is that I didn’t make it to the Lychee Tapioca, but I feel this has been an entirely strategic move by my sub-conscience so that I may return to HKK. The tasting course is a work of art, which caters to the fussiest of eaters. There is something for everyone, and if you don’t fall in love with at least one course, then you are beyond hope; the highly opinionated (yours truly), the vegetarian, the vegan (what more do you want?), and most of all, the carnivore (although I’m sure they don’t have favourites at HKK, I suspect this may be it). With discreet, friendly and first-name-basis service all round, you will want to visit the square mile for this dining experience alone. It is a visit well worth every bank-breaking penny.