With the new Mayfair branch opening next week I made the overdue visit to Alan Yau's flagship on Hanway Place. I tried not to get my expectations up too much, nothing is more bitter than a high-end celebrity studded hang out failing to live up to expectations, getting by on exorbitant prices and reputation alone. Hakkasan, now nearly ten year old, is a mecca for glitzy types after westernised Chinese or 'oriental inspired' fine dining. Almost weekly the tabloid spreads and lifestyle mags show images of tarted up 'slebs spilling out of the discreet side street portal. But what about all those diners who travel far and spend their hard earned on the celebration of the year, for such an expensive and well regarded restaurant they had to be able to offer something for those not on the corporate account or loaded enough not to care - especially in a time of apparent economic austerity.

The atmospheric interior feels like an erotic gaol, an underground hanger has been cunningly compartmentalised in to more intimate spaces by intricately carved wooden divides. Just enough of the restaurant and other diners can be seen through the screens to make the the place feel energised but also covert and exotic. A long but narrow bar runs down the back wall serving equally long and 'feminine' cocktails. Less time spent at the bar with the less than cognizant bartenders and more table time is advisable.

Large groups are made to pre-order food when booking which, irritating as it sounds, (seemingly only benefiting the well-oiled Hakkatron) is actually quite a good thing due to the sharing sized plates and the mass of offerings and we were able supplement our pre-decided dishes on the night. Some up-selling on the wine front can be outmaneuvered Christine Parkinson's recently shortlisted list does offer some cheaper bins for the less moneyed.

To start:

Salt and pepper squid

Dim sum platter
scallop shumai, har gau, Chinese chive dumpling and shimeji dumpling

Duck salad

Tea smoked ribs

soft shell crab


Stir-fry black pepper rib-eye beef
with merlot

silver cod with champagne and Chinese honey sauce


Spicy prawns



Jivara hazelnut bomb milk chocolate and hazelnut ice cream parfait, hot chocolate sauce

As a group on ten we are able to try lots of dishes; the stand out ones being the dim sum, ribs, beef and cod. Amazing precision had gone into the dim sum and on these alone I would go back for the mores extensive day time dim sum. The ribs had a wonderful tea smoked dimension and attention to the beef was on a par, spectacularly smokey and subtle. The cod came with a smile inducing sauce of champagne and Chinese honey - zesty, silky and rich. The fish was so perfectly cooked and elegant that any preconception hyped of elitist dining went out the window and left me feeling a little bit bad about having cast Hakkasan into the style over substance trough.

Sadly a dining experience like this does come at a cost, a big one. A fifty percent discount on the total bill was available through a long serving employee and friend of mine that made the evening, which included a cocktail and half a bottle of wine, very good value at £54 including service. Had I paid the full £100+ whack it would have to have been a petty important occasion

8 Hanway Place

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