Hakkasan Dubai – does it match the London experience?

Hakkasan Dubai terraceDubai; 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.

Steamed seafood dim sumFried dim sumSteamed vegetarian dim sum selection

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

Main course:

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

Spicy prawn with lily bulbs and almondsSteamed red snapper with Assam sauceStir-fry rib eye beef with black pepper sauce & pak choy

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.

Prawn and gai lan cheung fun

Prawn and gai lan cheung fun

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.

DessertsService 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;  reservations@hakkasandubai.com 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!

FooDiva. x

  • Posted under
    Cantonese, Chinese, Dubai, Hotels, Licensed, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants, Sheikh Zayed
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13 Responses to “Hakkasan Dubai – does it match the London experience?”

  1. I Live in a Frying Pan January 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    arrrgh why couldn’t I make it to this one?! 🙁 tell me they have this lunch special every week, tell me!!

    • FooDiva January 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      You were sorely missed…from Sunday to Thursday Arva 🙂

  2. kelly January 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    It looks as if we have a big list of restaurants to visit if we come to Dubai……………

  3. DNCW January 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Definitely london for star spotting;)

    What is your verdict FooDiva: dubai or abu dhabi?

    • FooDiva January 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      Dubai 🙂

  4. OB January 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    For a meal that cost me AED 738 (1 starter, 1 main, 2 sides, 4 desserts), it was quite a let-down. Steamed dim sum for starters was lackluster. The wagyu meat for mains was rubbery and tasteless. The pulled noodles were nothing special. The tofu and mushroom bowl was overcooked, and the desserts, with the exception of the mandarin / w choc puck, were poor (the pave was vapid , caramel torte tastes remotely of caramel, lemon tart was not tart). Venue has nice vibe / ambience, but as with most high-end Chinese eateries in Dubai, it leaves a lot to be desired.

    • FooDiva January 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

      Gosh your experience sounds disastrous. Hakkasan are reading this, so I hope they take note. Unfortunately, consistency is an issue in this part of the world.

  5. Devina Divecha (FooDee) January 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Nice one. The business lunch deal sounds pretty good.

    • FooDiva January 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

      Thanks Devina. Yes a bargain 🙂

  6. Drina C January 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    nice! value for money i’d say.. and finding value for money at emirates towers is brilliant.

    • FooDiva January 15, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      I hope more licensed restaurants take note Drina :).

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