Hakkasan Dubai – does it match the London experience?
Dubai; Unless you recognise the discreet Hakkasan logo, you’d be hard pushed to find the entrance to the upmarket Cantonese restaurant chain’s first outpost in Dubai in the shadow of Emirates Towers Boulevard. A Hakkasan strategy perhaps given the original London restaurant sits on Hanway Place, a dodgy alley off Oxford Street…I guess helps create an element of anticipation. Best part is you need not enter the hotel or office/ shopping tower – simply rock up in your car (just past the ballroom entrance) and get it valeted, provided you are not boozing it up of course. Diminutive hostesses in slinky lilac outfits – Hussein Chalayan I believe? – beckon us through a long slate stone corridor referred to as the catwalk leading to a stunning terrace with cascading wooden pavilions and surrounded by walls of vegetation and water features. A very luscious, Japanese-styled garden I feel. It’s simply so calming, you can tell it’s been Feng Shuied. Love, love, love the ambiance.
With only a scattering of tables occupied for a Tuesday lunch, we were able to pick a corner banquette for our trio. FooDiva review aside, the reason we had the luxury of a mid-week lunch was to avail of the ‘Taste of Hakkasan’ business lunch menu (below); select three courses for AED 120.
Dim sum starter:
Steamed seafood dim sum selection; scallop shumai, shrimp har gau, prawn and Chinese chive dumpling
Fried dim sum selection; radish puff, baked venison puff
Vegetarian steamed dim sum selection; morel crystal dumpling, chive flower dumpling, bamboo dumpling
Spicy prawn with lily bulbs and almonds
Chiu chow style duck
Steamed red snapper with Assam sauce
Stir-fry rib eye beef with black pepper sauce
Four style vegetable stir-fry in Szechuan sauce
All mains served with pak choy and steamed rice
Pavlova with spiced plums and brandy ice cream
Selection of home made sorbet – raspberry, passion fruit and rose
Being three, we were pretty much able, bar a couple, to order all dishes to share – I’ve highlighted our selection. Food presentation is an art, and something Hakkasan has perfected with every single dish; even if you weren’t reviewing you’d be tempted to photograph. Just to illustrate, the radish puff dim sum comprises layers of paper thin puff pastry moulded to resemble a carrot and filled with shreds of radish; one bite and it melts in your mouth. The steamed red snapper deserves a mention for its Assam sauce; no that’s not tea, but a sweet and spicy tamarind and chilli sauce. We were each served a dish of steamed pak choy and rice. Every single dim sum morsel, all three mains and dessert were outstanding in taste, flavour and texture. It’s also good to see a business lunch deal serve decent portions, bordering on large.
We ordered an additional dim sum from the a la carte menu; a prawn and gai lan cheung fun, identical and as sublime as Hakkasan Abu Dhabi’s. We tried several teas, but my favourite was the Old Puer Ya Jian, a chrysanthemum tea from the Chinese Yunnan province, known for its digestive properties. FooDiva’s only bone of contention with the whole meal were the tea leaves brewed on burners inside and served at the table in teapots; I would so much prefer to have my own burner to adjust the strength, like its Abu Dhabi sister.
Service was impeccable with the staff well versed on the dishes, but the terrace was only half full and a smattering of occupied tables indoors. Part of me did wonder if they knew I was reviewing given the incessant photography. Hey ho, we’ll never know. Incredibly good value deal. All three of us left smiling, and both my lunch companions were well educated in Chinese cuisine, one being a chef with a passion for Asian gastronomy and the other an ex-Hong Kong foodie. Hakkasan may not be a home-grown Dubai brand, but if an import delivers as well as the original London outfit, then FooDiva loves. I can’t wait to return for the dinner and cocktail experience.
Hakkasan Dubai is located on the ground floor of Jumeirah’s Emirates Towers Boulevard building with its own private entrance and valet parking. Licensed. Open daily for lunch and dinner. The Taste of Hakkasan menu is available at lunchtime from Sunday to Thursday. E; firstname.lastname@example.org T; +971 4 3848484.
Have you tried any of the Hakkasan’s in Abu Dhabi, London, Miami or Mumbai? Love to hear your favourite Cantonese restaurants.
Here’s to a fabulous 2012 FooDiva Friends et a bientôt!