The life of a foodie is always an adventure but the last few weeks have been particularly exciting, eating my way across some of London’s hottest new openings from Bao‘s pillowy offerings to an exquisite selection of tapas at Barrafina…
There has almost been a sense of urgency – if not frenzy – in my quest. You see, I’m now in Bombay for a bit (India chapter of TFD up soon, watch this space) and it was a race against time, to get my fill of London’s newest and greatest before leaving.
On my last day though, I woke up craving lunch at an old classic, that’s been tried and tested several times over. The one that keeps drawing me back with its sumptuous menu that manages still to provide the satisfaction that only comfort food can…
And so we headed to Hakkasan on Bruton Street for a quick fix lunch before dashing to the airport.
The stylish restaurant pulls off day to night quite effortlessly. In the evenings, it has a certain pizzazz, with music and a distinctive electric blue mood lighting that add to the uber-trendy aura and “night out on the town” feel. While, at lunch the laid back and lazy ambience is ideal if you have the luxury of time, although the efficient service is well-catered if you don’t – as was the case for us. Settling into our comfortable booth, we got right down to business.
The menu is centred on Cantonese food, and does remarkably well by vegetarians. The veggie dim sum selection is unparalleled, steamed parcels of deliciousness wrapped within silky smooth and delicate yet resilient skins, from a burnt-orange carrot juice skin encasing crunchy water chestnuts to a chive juice skin moreishly stuffed with yam bean and shiitake mushroom, and my favourite – soft bean curd rolls, tempered with earthy flavours.
The salt & pepper tofu is always a must here too, home-made with eggs and pumpkin juice. The firm golden exterior gives way to a creamy texture which has just that subtle tinge of sweetness. The highlight here though is the generous heaping of dried bean curd skin crumbled on top, it’s good enough to eat on its own.
We were in rush to make the flight, and so had to skip out on other favourites – albeit with much reluctance.
Although incredibly glutinous, the succulent chunks of black pepper mock chicken stir-fried with sugar snaps, are the stuff of a vegetarian’s dream and the closest I’ll happily come to eating meat. Other recommendations include the tofu aubergine clay pot (a comfort food classic) with a portion of hakka noodles, while the stir-fried lotus root root with lily bulb and asparagus is a heavenly choice for something light on the side.
Wash it all down with the signature Hakka drink but be prepared to lose count of how many you’ll inevitably have, as the potent combination of vodka and sake is masked by the fruity flavours of lychee, lime, coconut and passion fruit, making for a dense but deliciously refreshing cocktail that’s knocked back all too easily.
Finally, two words to end this post on a sweet note: Jivara Bomb. Milk chocolate and hazelnut ice cream coated with rice krispies and chocolate sauce, while a swirl of popping candy and dried raspberries pack in an extra crunch – giving way to an explosion of flavours that leave you wanting more, so much more. This number really goes to prove why you must ALWAYS have room for dessert.
Hakkasan Mayfair, 17 Bruton Street, LondonW1J 6QB