When a restaurant of a certain repute invites a bunch of food writers/bloggers for dinner it is expected that the management put their best foot forward, be it service or food. With a similar expectation I went to Hakkasan last week to try out their new weekday lunch menu.
We were greeted by a well dressed girl at the entrance which got me wondering if I’ll be denied entry because of my jeans and not so formal top. Thankfully, I wasn’t. The restaurant which had strict dress code till a while back has loosened up a bit and you can walk-in wearing your denims if not shorts. We walked through a small gallery into a dimly lit dining area which has a bar attached to it. The ambiance is beautiful with comfortable seating. They also have separate dining booths where one can have a private meal. There’s a bigger dining hall on the other end of the gallery which can also be converted into an open-air section by opening the roof.
We sat at the bar which is assorted with a range of Indian and International brands of alcohol. They also have a notable wine list. A set menu was given to us and I decided to order a couple of cocktails since they were highly recommended by the PR person. We ordered a Kumquat Mojito and a Hakkatini; both quite average in their taste as well as presentation. Mojito had more ice in it and got over after a couple of sips while Hakkatini tasted like a blend of vodka and mosambi juice. Well, a bit disappointed we ordered for another round of drinks, Bitter Fortune and Polmos Cooler this time. Bitter fortune was a concoction made of gin, grapefruit juice, aperol bitter and lime. It tasted very bitter initially but after a couple of sips I enjoyed the taste. Polmos Juice; citrus vodka, peach liquor, pressed apple juice and passion fruit had a very forgettable taste.
The starters came in with our second round of drinks. We were served a range of dimsum namely edamame, chive, chicken and prawns, prawns, vegetable etc. The only ones to stand out among these were edamame and chicken n prawns. Rest of them tasted good only with the oyster sauce. We also tried their radish puff which tasted like samosas stuffed with bland, grated radish and Chicken Sesame ball which looked inviting but as I cut through it was hollow from the inside and rarely had any chicken.
If the starters weren’t disappointing enough they went a step further and made it worse with their main course. This brings me to my question; will you ever spend an exorbitant amount of money to eat hakka noodles and spring onion and egg fried rice? I wouldn’t cause I can eat that at my neighborhood Chinese restaurant or better still make it at home. And the taste will still be better than what we were served at Hakkasan. To accompany the rice and noodles there was Sanpet chicken claypot, Thai style crispy chicken, Steamed rawas in homemade chilli sauce (good sauce but under-cooked fish), stir fried tofu a ndCrispy aubergine and okra. I am a kind of person who remembers the taste of good food but frankly I don’t remember the taste of any of these dishes at Hakkasan.
The evening soon turned into a fine example of Murphy’s Law and even the desserts couldn’t save it. The lemongrass-vanilla creme brulee and chocolate mousse granita were left untouched. However, the selection of ice-creams was good.
The co-diners who have visited Hakkasan before told me that the food here is generally good. Their duck preparations are “out of this world”. I would love to think that the menu they prepared for us was not right but this is what I ate and this is what I am supposed to write about. To sum it up in one line, I wasn’t impressed.
P.S. – I observed another odd thing about the restaurant. When I went to use the washroom an attendant opened the door (of the loo) for me. Opened it again as I stepped out and handed me a paper towel when I was done washing my hands. If that wasn’t creepy enough she stood there watching me wipe my hands and also offered to throw the towel in the waste-bin, an offer I politely refused.