To celebrate Chinese New Year, HKK – led byMichelin-starred Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee – has designed a new tasting menu to reflect the importance of prosperity, luck, fortune, health and long life to Chinese culture.
It’s a colourful and elegant eight-course tasting menu enjoyed in a smart, modern and pared-back space on Worship Street. The experience begins with a ‘prosperity platter’: a delicate bowl of glass noodles, crispy salmon skin and barbecue pork belly in glossy plum sauce. The idea is to toss it with your chopsticks, as high as you dare, to welcome good luck and happiness for the year ahead.
Next, two soups (crab meat and kumquat; and a vegetarian ‘shark fin’ – essentially a soy mushroom broth) served in the same bowl are magically separated into a beautiful Yin and Yang symbol; it’s almost a shame to disturb it. A trio of dumplings is equally superb – special merit goes to that which comes filled with sweet, delicate dover sole; and the buttery and comforting black truffle and mushroom dumpling, part of the vegetarian new year menu.
Roasted cherry wood Peking duck, as we’ve come to expect from the Hakkasan group, is a halfway highlight. Historically reserved for the imperial courts, its reputation for grandeur is reflected in its taste – the skin shiny and crisp, the meat incredibly rich with melting layer of fat and subtle smoky aftertaste. Lobster (or ‘dragon of the sea’) with light noodles and XO sauce also has a feel of luxury about it, while Sichuan mala lamb with sticky jasmine rice cakes awakens the senses with the first real spicy kick of the evening.
For dessert, bright orange spheres – vanilla and mandarin dumplings – the size of acorns are made all the more fragrant with an osmanthus and orange infusion, which you pour from a little teapot. It’s a playful addition (as is the paintbrush presented four courses previous, which diners use to ‘paint’ soy sauce onto their dumplings) and adds drama to the menu.
Finally, a creamy fruit parfait is so intense in flavour that it tastes more like a green apple than an actual green apple does. It comes with little cubes of spongy cardamom cake and crisp apple noodles, and is the best dish of the evening after that duck.
The evening ends with a ‘tray of togetherness’ – a basket of eight sweet treats traditionally offered by your host (or in this case, two waiters). It’s a custom followed throughout Chinese New Year to encourage a successful and prosperous start to the year ahead. Be lucky and make the salted caramel truffle and yuzu jelly two of your choices.
The Chinese New Year menu at HKK will be available until 20 February, 2016. £88 per person or £78 per person for the vegetarian menu (beverage pairing an extra £48)
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