To celebrate Chinese New Year in style in London, there are not many places that can present a special menu like HKK has done. They have modernised Chinese cooking techniques from around China and with that created a culinary journey that will delight your all your senses.
HKK’s innovativc Chinese New Year menu has been specially designed by Chef Tong Chee Hwee (1 star), Executive Head Chef of Hakkasan Group.The Culinary Journey Through China menu showcases the diverse cooking techniques around China is and features 8 courses from 8 different regions. There is an equally inventive vegetarian option too. For the occasion they have commissioned these special menus encased in red as red is used for Chinese New Year as the colour of prosperity. Every page is a beautifully illustrated by Louise Morgan.
The main dining room is a dimly lit rectangular space, widely spaced tables with a centre piece of longevity peaches as light fixtures. A long bar faces the entrance where there are seats for a quick meal. Around us were a mix of business suits and couples on dates. The muted atmosphere would make this quite a good place for date night.
Being January, we opted for the non-alcoholic Orchard matching drinks menu which are a series of inventive concoctions created by the resident mixologist that was not about tastes but engages your other senses as well. As a sign of what was to come, the first was a glass of Chilean 1724 tonic water served through a strainer with saffron strands and sprayed with grapefruit essence.
The journey began in Suzhou, The Venice of the East, with the Marinated Duke of Berkshire Pork with Osmanthus wine jelly, tender pork, a hint of grated ginger and a sharp sauce to contrast. Our taste buds were suitably warmed up.
Best Peking Duck in London
The Cherry wood roasted Peking Duck prepared by their “duck chef” to his secret recipe is their most popular dish. An added theatrical touch is the duck being carved by the table by the chef deftly yielding his Chinese cleaver. The duck is served 3 ways, a piece of duck, sliced duck in a pancake and the lightest piece of duck crackling. Absolutely sublime. We noticed that only a small part of the duck of served to each table and found out that the rest of the duck is used in other dishes like those that they serve for their special lunchtime duck menu. Our matching drink was a zingy honey dew melon, celery and ginger.
Side note: Peking duck is ordered just for the crispy skin usually and the meat is then made into a couple of other dishes. The more familiar crispy duck is usually fried and the shredded meat is served with pancakes.
Going the extra mile with the next dish. The Dim Sum Trilogy from Guangdong was served with a paint brush to add only a discernible amount of sauce to your dumplings to not overwhelm the flavours. As expected, each dumpling was expertly prepared and that pastry was very light complimenting the filling. Matched with a ginger, papaya, apple and unusually, eucalyptus syrup.
Monk Jumps Over The Wall
Yes it sounds like a nursery rhyme but it’s actually a very famous soup. The Chinese clientele would love this but my friend did not really get it. It is served with a spoonful of goji berries and vegetarian sharks fin. In Hong Kong, the fine dining restaurants make this soup with the most prized ingredients like abalone, dried scallops, sharks fin, sea cucumbers, shitake mushrooms in a premium stock making it a very expensive soup. I never knew that the origins of this dish was from the Fujian province.
A bit of Hunan influence in this Pan Grilled Chilean Sea Bass dish. served on the tender slices of fish wrapped around crunchy vegetables with a piquant Sha Cha sauce is something I’ll have to add to my repertoire at home.
The next dish is a modern twist on a favourite dish, slow braised meat in wine. Here they used Wagyu beef and this was braised in soy and Merlot. The result is a soft meltingly piece of prime beef bathed in a very rich sauce. Loved it but would have been a nice dish with some rice on the side. So far, the menu has been delicious and quite low carb as there isn’t a rice or noodle filler dish anywhere. A slightly sharp tamarillo, basil, cinnamon, pineapple and saffron concoction was served with the beef, to cut through the richness.
Influenced by Hui cuisines from the Anhui province, the Jasmine tea-smoked poussin was served shredded with crispy leeks and cripy skin.
Szechuan cuisine is more recognisable to most. The aroma of this char grilled New Zealand scampi hits you first, then a mouthful of crunchy scampi, spiced with a numbing spicy sauce with Szechuan peppercorns.
For the first pudding, the Trio of dark chocolate dim sum drenched with the yuzu and ginger infusion, a chewy glutinous rice skin encasing a gooey chocolate centre. This is similar to the glutinous rice dumplings that we have for celebrating the winter solstice and their twist of using a chocolate filling works really well.
The second pudding is a beautifully artistic Sheep’s milk mousse (a nod to the Year of the Sheep) with pandan curd and caramelised puff rice. A really clever mix of textures and flavours. I can really appreciate the expertise to create all the elements on this plate but was not a favourite as I am not a big fan of pandan flavours married in this way.
As a final touch, one of the chefs came around with a red ink stamp for our souvenir menus to take away. The service was attentive and friendly. If you do go, look out for the strip of blue light by the door as there isn’t a big sign nor an obvious entrance. Would highly recommend HKK for a Chinese meal with a twist.
88 Worship Street
London EC2A 2BE
+44 (0)20 3535 1888
EatCookExplore was a guest of HKK