Maybe Chinese restaurants are like buses. You don’t get any new openings for a while then several come along at once. So after Bo London the other day, it’s HKK, the latest project from the Hakkasan group.
It’s much more mainstream than Bo - no edible condoms here - but, like Bo, an unmistakeably contemporary Chinese restaurant with dishes served individually Western-style rather than placed on the table together. Which of course makes them much easier to match.
We opted for the 8 course lunch menu (£48) rather than the 15 course evening one which costs a daunting £95 (this is the City, after all). Our sommelier agreed to bring the soft drink options as well for us to try - one pairing for each couple of courses. A well-priced option at only £24 a flight.
There’s a good deal of theatre about the presentation. The main course of cherry wood roasted Peking duck (served with a lovely Pfalz Pinot Noir from Stepp & Gaul) is carved on a table in the middle of the restaurant then served with a pancake on the side rather than a basket of them for you to do your own rolling.
The dim sum* - some of the very best I’ve tasted - arrive with a small paint brush for you to anoint them with just the right amount of soy sauce. And the tonic in the 1724 non-alcoholic cocktail that was served with it was poured through a strainer full of saffron then topped with a spritz of grapefruit zest from an old-fashioned perfume spray. Stylish and really delicious.
Other highlights were a dazzling dish of steamed razor clam with steamed chillies and a deep-fried ball of mui-choi glutinous rice (below) - slightly overwhelmed by the heavyweight Barossa Valley Nine Popes that the sommelier paired with it - and two outstanding desserts: lychee tapioca with passion chiboust and passion jam (probably the best rice pudding I’ve tasted) and a pineapple fritter with salted lime jelly and vanilla ice cream - an elegant riff on the fruit fritters of more traditional Chinese restaurants.
In fact there’s little to fault. The jasmine tea-smoked Wagyu beef was a little tougher and fattier than Bo’s. You rather lost the Iberico in the Four Treasure Iberico ham wrap, pretty though it looked. And some of the soft drinks such as the white grape, prune, apple and clove cocktail were a bit too sweet and gloopy for the delicacy of the food. But this is quibbling. I wouldn’t be surprised if it picks up a Michelin star in March despite the fact that it will only have been open a couple of months.
The good news is that they’re putting on a dim sum menu at lunchtime which will probably be pricey but hopefully cheaper than the set menu. And the dim sum was exquisite. There’s also much more to explore in terms of the wine list which includes both wine flights and an extensive selection of wines by the glass. And there’s an interesting cocktail list and a tea trollley to investigate.
So, not cheap, but very, very good. Go if you can afford it.
HKK is at Broadgate West (just off Bishopsgate), 88 Worship Street, London EC2A 2BE
Tel: +44 (0)203 535 1888.
I ate at HKK as a guest of the restaurant.
* Truffle har gau, pan-fried Szechuan dumpling and sour turnip puff