Brace yourself and pace yourself because Hakkasan’s Chinese New Year menu is stacked with not just food, but intrinsic fortune.
The 28th of January marks the Year of the Rooster and the eleven Hakkasan restaurants of London have crafted a meal that will leave your belly full and your 2017 on track for prosperity. The number eight is lucky and the Hakkasan Chinese New Year Signature Menu comes in at £88 or £108 for two additional features and is broken down into three courses: Small Eat, Main and Dessert.
There is something wonderful about a set menu. You don’t have to make any impetuous decisions, you simply feast on what’s put in front of you, and feast we did. To whet our whistles, a cocktail – one with and one without alcohol – got the celebration started and each came with a golden rooster clipped onto the side, gesturing to a magnificent banquet to come and a welcome gift from Hakkasan.
We wouldn’t classify the starters as small at all. The traditional and wealth-inducing Fortune Tale salad, our favourite of the three, was tossed at the table and was light and refreshing with a serious flavour profile. Strips of roast chicken were mixed with ingredients like jellyfish, crispy mushrooms, mooli (giant radish), cucumber and carrots, topped with olive oil and black and white sesame seeds. A teetering taste standard was set and we were ready for more.
Gold is extremely important in Chinese culture so ingesting the precious metal can only be a good thing, right? Gently placed on braised abalone next to a ‘wind-dried’ oyster – a large gold leaf completed this rich and luxurious dish which is part of the £108 menu. The trio was rounded out by a bowl of mild soup – a blend of boiled fish maw (dried fish bladder – do not be alarmed, it was delicious and is supposedly good for your skin) and chicken broth.
The most aesthetically striking of the five mains was the turbot. Perched atop bright yellow supreme stock, white baby, long-stem mushrooms (enoki) were enveloped in steamed turbot, topped with a sprinkling of saffron-bathed dried leek and surrounded by thin folds of black Cloud Ear Mushrooms; but for our taste buds, the standout was the duck. Served on an origamied banana leaf with slivers of sweet peppers and onions, the spice level was a careful calibration delivering a welcome punch of flavour.
The shelled lobster cooked and dotted with fresh spring onions, peppercorns and water chestnuts was incredible and the stir-fried mushrooms were an excellent vegetable accompaniment – skilfully distributed on a fanned bed of tender stem broccoli and drizzled in abalone sauce. A supplemental (and perfectly executed) egg fried rice was the final main and helped prepare the palate for the concluding set.
How much more good luck could we consume? Plenty. A pair of koi (symbolising success) was placed in between us, intricately moulded from a red bean rice cake and steamed custard. Even though we were nearing capacity, we felt compelled to eat them. They were also adorned with more gold leaf so there is no doubt that the first quarter is going to be a triumph.
The second dessert offering of customary, custard-filled deep fried sesame balls was delectable and the entire meal’s pièce de résistance was the Golden Feather. Nesting on a bed of delicate, sweetened kataifi was an extra-large egg surrounded by tiny, glittering (white chocolate) gold feathers. It was time for rebirth in the form of pudding. Cracking into the thin, white chocolate shell of the egg, a ginger panna cotta with a mandarin centre oozed out. It was divine. We cannot begin to imagine how much time it took to make such a superb creation and we most certainly enjoyed every moment of dismantling it.
A jasmine tea is a nice way to button up the meal and do not forget to scrawl your aspirations for the New Year on a red and gold wishing ribbon before you go, and last but not least, gong hei fat choi! Oh and it wouldn't be a bad idea to purchase a lottery ticket on the way home.
Book in for Hakkasan Mayfair’s Chinese New Year signature menu now and roll on 2017.
Words by Courtney Blackman