Weekday Lunch at Hakkasan

(c) Sami Darling-Rock 

The opulent Hakkasan on Hanway Place is the original of the Hakkasans around the world. A dark cave of luxury, the Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant is partitioned with carved wooden panels into smaller areas, giving it a dramatic air of a vast expanse yet intimate dining. Walking in feels like walking into a James Bond film.

This place is by no means "my type". It is sexy, elegant and indulgent. Coming here for dinner would mean planning ahead, dressing up, and most importantly travelling West of Liverpool Street station, which in my books is a no-no. Weekends are for lazying about it Hackney.

So lunch it is. Work is just around the corner and everybody needs a pick-me-up every now and then. When a business partner suggests we hit Hakkasan, I jump at the chance.

We start with the gold leaf lychee and lobster dumplings.

gold leaf lychee and lobster dumpling Hakkasan Hanway Place

Three little parcels of joy, bursting with flavour and delicate nuances. Perfectly formed, every last detail has been considered. Perfectly cooked - not mushy and not hard. Still piping hot.

Just how I like it.

gold leaf lychee and lobster dumpling Hakasan Hanway Place

This is followed by royal king crab jade dumplings.

I can't decide which one I like the most, so we split the third dumpling in each steamer.

And finish off the starters with three huge pork dumplings.

Next up are the mains.

Being no rookie myself, I've been looking around at other luncheonettes to see what they've ordered and if it looks nice. I spot a shrimpy mc shrimp dish on a nearby table and ask what that is. Apparently is a best-seller, so we order that.

It's the Spicy prawn with lily bulb and almond.

Creamy, with heat. A dreamy, dreamy dish. Out of all the ones we order, this is the one we're both digging into the most.

We also order a stir-fry black pepper rib eye beef with merlot.

The flavour on this one is heavier. The sticky sauce is very savoury, the tanginess no doubt added to by the merlot.

We've got some greens too. I always get morning glory with any Cantonese meal.

And to soak it all up.... Singapore vermicelli. 

Why the hell not.

Our server at this point is super excited that we've got refined palates. I kid you not.

So when his colleague puts the dessert menus in our hands, he comes rushing and promptly yanks them away. "I will pick your dessert. It will be a surprise," he announces.

I love this. I love that he's seen what we've ordered therefore he now knows what we would love for pudding, and I'm happy he's decided to take the chore of choosing from us. His actions are added-value. Entertainment-value, even.

At this point, I don't even care if I hate the dessert. I'm just beside myself with expectation.

But it doesn't disappoint.

He's got us the lemon cream cheese mousse.

lemon cream cheese mousse hakkasan

Looks like a lemon but give it a swift smack with the back of the spoon...

lemon cream cheese mousse hakkasan

And voila! You've got a deliciously creamy ice-cream style thingy surrounded by tanginess and hazelnuttiness and crunchiness... it's just all lovely. Who ever thought of something so good?

And with that, lunch is over. And my quest to try everything on the menu, even if it's at dinner, begins.

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