Apparently, there is a lot of hoohah involved when it comes to booking a large table at a decent restaurant in London. We had a big reunion dinner at Hakkasan Hanway Place, with some of my university friends, and some old friends who had moved over to London from Asia, as well as PB, who came in on the Eurostar for one day of fun in the big smoke. It was a fun group, and Hakkasan is a cool place to have a good meal and a good time.
The last time I visited Hakkasan, it was to their Mayfair branch, which I feel has a much cooler vibe with it’s trendy bar upstairs, packed with beautiful people, bankers and one guy who was so snobby and full of himself that we (two girls) didn’t know whether or not to take him seriously or to laugh out loud.
Hakkasan Hanway Place is the original of the two Hakkasan restaurants in London. After descending into the dark and vibey restaurant via a black, scented staircase, you’re greeted at the bottom by the welcoming and well-dressed staff. From the entrance it looks quite swanky, but once you enter the dining room, it almost has a canteen feel to it. The décor hasn’t changed since it’s opening in 2001, and it is looking rather dated.
We were offered a selection of set-price ‘Signature Menus’, a must for large parties. The reservation (and the menus) had to be confirmed at least 48 hours in advance, and any cancellations after this time would be subject to a £40 charge! We went for the £60 menu, featuring dim sum, main dishes and dessert. It was actually a huge amount of food, and I felt bad that quite a bit of it was wasted – I certainly ate my fill!
The dim sum selection featured your usual har gau, scallop siu mai and two different from your average dim sum options, a Chinese Chive Dumpling and Shimeji (mushroom) Dumpling.
Also under the ‘small eats’ section were the Jasmine tea-smoked organic pork spareribs. The sauce was okay but the spare ribs were not tender and didn’t have much meat on them. The rack was served whole and then sliced messily and rather unceremoniously at the table.
The stir-fried black pepper rib eye beef with merlot was the best thing on the menu, tasty, tender cubes of high quality beef in a black pepper sauce, which was subtle and wonderful. I was popping piece after piece into my mouth far after reaching capacity!