Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hakkasan: Happy Year of the Ram, 90210 Style

I'd always been curious about the global juggernaut restaurant/lounge/nightlife brand that is Hakkasan.  Originating in London, with Singaporean Executive Chef Tong Chee Hwee at the helm, Hakkasan had earned a Michelin-star within a year of opening.

A Chinese New Year menu tasting at Hakkasan's Beverly Hills location gave me the occasion to finally check the place out.

The ultra-lounge ambience has a Chinese flare, with ornate, airy screens inspired by traditional interior design helping to section off tables so that you get a sense of the expansiveness of the place while enjoying a degree of privacy with your dining companions. As a fan and supporter of Chinese 'experience' restaurants - gastronomic temples balancing fine dining traditional / inventive Chinese with modern, chic decor is de rigeur in Hong Kong - the ambiance really does add to your enjoyment of the meal.

Elevated Asian food in experience restaurants is often met with skepticism in the US, and while I had my reservations as well, I tried to keep an open mind.  

From the CNY menu (see full listings at bottom), there was one huge standout for me: the Golden fried sea prawns dish, with red chili and curry leaf. The prawns were the perfect size, with a fragrant spicy-salty crispy crunch yielding to plump and juicy with a pleasant spring: best of all they were heaped with a giant mound of fried egg YOLK wisps, also with just the right amount of heat and umami to make them something you won't be able to stop eating.  I was surprised at how much I loved this dish - If they sold a giant gallon tub of even just those egg yolk wisps, I would happily squirrel and devour them by fistfuls.

Right now this dish is only being offered as part of the CNY menu, but I'm hoping they will decide to add it to the regular a la carte menu - it drew unanimous raves from everyone at our tasting, and is definitely a dish I would come back for.

Here is what the rest of the menu, offered for the next week or so, looks like:

Small Eats
  • Dim sum platter *har gau, scallop shumai, Chinese chive dumpling and black pepper duck dumpling
  • Spicy lamb lupin wrap
  • Golden fried sea prawns with red chili and curry leaf

  • Spicy prawn with lily bulb and almond
  • Stir-fry black pepper rib eye beef with merlot *
  • Grilled Chilean seabass in honey
  • Stir-fry lily bulb and French bean with preserved olive and dry chili
  • Abalone and dry scallop fried rice *

  • Kumquat wishing tree

Cost: $138.88, minimum of two people to participate in the menu.

To complete the dining experience, the Kumquat wishing tree dessert consists of two parts: a chocolate kumquat dish with dramatic plating: a tree silhouette is painted in chocolate on the plate, with bright orange bursts of kumquat sorbet accompanying chocolate cake on top.

The second part is a futuristic looking plastic tree hung with edible candied kumquats.  This second tree comes with a red 'wishing slip' that you can write your wish on - a global community element then comes in the form of encouraging guests to share their written wish with others via social media.

Most dishes were tasty, but I did particularly wish for the fried rice to have more 'wok air'.  Even if the dish is meant to be served 'wet' style, the rice should have had more 'fragrance release'.  We did not get to try the dim sum nor the spicy prawn, and I hope to go back soon to check them out and get a more complete picture of Hakkasan's offerings.

In the meantime, here's to wishing everyone a happy Chinese New Year!

*Disclaimer:  This meal was hosted.


Hakkasan Beverly Hills
233 N Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Ph: 310.888.8661



Hakkasan on Urbanspoon

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