Everything about Hakkasan is unabashedly gorgeous: from the sexy space and silky soups to luxe cocktails, lush music and lighting that makes you feel like you’re dining amid pools of water. This much-awaited Chinese restaurant from London – ranked consistently among the world’s top eateries - finally opened in Bandra last night, after multiple delays. We made a first date and what ensued were a series of seduction rituals. It's safe to say, no ginseng was required.
Located where Seijo and the Soul Dish used to be, the Michelin-starred Hakkasan houses a restaurant, a lounge, and a private dining room. The space is large enough to awe you, the marble walls cool you down, the wooden lattice screens sieve your stress, the upbeat music demands a batch of drinks. You like it instantly.
Slim Peking? Hardly
A pint of Tsingtao, South African red and spunky ginger martini (light, pungent and magically lacking the throat burn that ginger usually brings), got us started. Over these, futures were discussed and food was ordered: hot and sour soup, vegetable grilled Shanghai dumplings, and a platter of roast duck rolls, chicken sesame balls and prawn mei si rolls.
The ooh-inducing, tangy soup was thick and silky, with slivers of mushroom and cloud-like tofu adding to the impossible richness - it could, as someone at the table remarked, have easily been served as dessert. Vegetarians have tons of starters to choose from, but get grilled Shanghai dumplings (ask for chilli oil), perfectly charred and bursting with vegetables. For carnivores, the above mentioned Hakka platter is a great idea, since it comes with seafood, chicken and duck. The prawn rolls may be fried, but they’re light, fragrant and infused with lemon grass - like a spa in your mouth. Prickly roasted duck rolls served with sweet sauce were our favourite, but we couldn’t say the same about the too-sweet chicken sesame balls, a more savoury version of the desi til laddoo. Pass the chilli oil, please.
In between courses we took a tour of the lounge across a hall, where tables are set against fun fish scale-patterned walls and a long, blue bar (designed to match the London outpost’s) demands a weekend visit.
Back at our table, waiting were generous portions of smoky Hakka hand pulled noodles, fuss-free veggies tossed in Szechuan sauce and a well-spiced chicken in stir fry kung po. It’s interesting to order classics from an authentic kitchen and see how they differ from the desi Chinese we’re used to; nothing’s drowning in gravy, over spiced and/or frighteningly coloured. Next time, we're going back for the seafood, prawns and sea bass that the London Hakkasan is most revered for.
Dessert was chocolate mousse with chai granita, a carnival of textures and tastes that included a dense tower of rich mousse, crumbly coconut biscuit, sticky crisps and slightly spicy, icy granita. It’s safe to say that at this point, they didn’t have to try too hard to seduce us. We'd already given up half a pay cheque for this meal.
Just before leaving, during one last scan of the menu we noticed a whole Peking duck preparation that costs Rs 8,500 and needs to be ordered 24 hours in advance. Would we dare? Nah! We're not the type of girls to give it all up on the first date. Hakkasan, you'll have to try again the next time around.
Getting there: Hakkasan, Krystal Building, Waterfield Road, next to Chemistry, Bandra (W), call 26444444 or visit www.hakkasan.com, open for dinner only, Rs 4,000 for a meal for two.
bpb reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for its own meals.
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