Until the 17th of November, Hakkasan in Mayfair has collaborated with shoe designer Lucy Choi on a tasting menu. Yes, the very same the high end Chinese restaurant where you might spot the Kardashians. So what could the marriage between luxury accessory and beautifully executed dishes look like? If you’re thinking along the lines of The Berkeley’s runway inspired afternoon teas, think again. This is much more sensual, vampish and will make you think of Asian cuisine in a totally different light. The Bruton Street branch features red exotic-skinned pumps that pop against the darkness. This is a great taster for the elegant presentation you’ll witness throughout. From the menu, the closest resemblance to a fashion item is the bright yet sexy Choi Ling that comes with meal. It’s a gin and Ruinart Champagne cocktail served in a long-stemmed coupe topped with a rose petal and you’ll want two of those, please.
The Hakkasan x Lucy Choi six course extravaganza is priced at £90 per person or £70 for the vegan option. Considering the postcode and its reputation (one Michelin star awarded in 2011), it’s a reasonable ask. I’d like to consider myself a dim sum snob, which may be ironic considering it is traditionally unglamorous: served on heated trolleys, steam rising from the bamboo cases and pushed between tables. Think of it as an old-school Yo Sushi! set up. The first course of the Lucy Choi menu are delicate parcels featuring various stuffings, like favourites har gau (prawn), shui mai (pork mixed with swordfish, much lighter than the traditional shrimp), mushroom and king crab. Following this is the crispy duck salad, which manages to balance freshness of crisp leaves with the moreish crunch of skin.
One of the best dishes of the day is the merlot finished beef on a crispy egg net and glistening with soy sauce goodness. Every bite is so tender, you won’t be asking for a knife and fork. The juicy prawns with lie atop a brilliant yellow sauce with fragrant Thai references. The restaurant staff tell me that this is their favourite dish and after just a spoonful, it’s unsurprising. The flavours are so delicate (those curls of lily bulb have the texture of soft onion with a mild nuttiness) and seafood so fresh there’s an audible crunch. Totally faultless. A tough competitor in the trio of stars is the Chilean seabass in honey, which is alike a miso black cod. Flaking in luscious chunks, the generous portion is enough to have you hooked and returning for more. And what meal would be complete without a vegetable dish? I’ve never been a fan of pak choi, it’s never been the right consistency for me until I met Hakkasan’s version which are so silky and fresh it’s to the point of sweet.
An impressive display ends the meal with the poached pear dessert, unusual for Hakkasan that faithfully delivers delicious Cantonese favourites. Out from a lacquered black box appears two domes of candy floss. A hot ginger tea is poured over the fluffy eggs and as it melts, slithers of translucent fruit arranged as a rose is revealed. It’s true artistry. Then there are the kitsch chocolate coated sorbet pops that would’ve served better as palate cleansers – not a complaint, just an observation. And it’s not until the end of the meal that we see this playful surprise, the kind you’d expect from fashion. The kind of theatre that makes other diners turn and stare… just like a great pair of shoes.
17 Bruton Street