Hakkasan is one of the most loved global restaurant brands, founded in London in 2001. Since its inception, Hakkasan has been at the forefront of exquisite Chinese cuisine, winning numerous Michelin Stars for its expertise under the lead of Executive Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee.
Hakkasan has grown to become one of those restaurants that you know what you are getting when you go there and that’s why you continue to go. The brand has grown synonymously the world over and is renowned for not only its excellent culinary flare but also its chic, sophisticated atmosphere that sees well-healed clientele visit from every inch of the globe. Is it a restaurant? is it a bar? is it a nightclub? Actually, it manages to be all three.
Hakkasan opened in Abu Dhabi 5 years ago at the prestigious Emirates Palace and has remained at the forefront of the Emirate’s culinary scene ever since. Comprising a bar, restaurant and lounge, four private dining rooms and a fantastic terrace looking out onto the Corniche skyline, this location is somewhat bigger than, and seemingly better than some of its neighbouring branches.
As you drive up the impressive entrance to Emirates Palace and swerve past the dancing fountains, you are directed to Hakkasan’s very own private entrance, reflective of the type of guests that this restaurant attracts. It won’t be unusual to be rubbing shoulders with royalty of A list celebrities as you dine so dress appropriately.
Hakkasan is known for its dark, nightclub inspired design and long-time design partner Giles & Boissier designed this particular space keeping this ethos in mid but interpreting it for the UAE. Each section of the venue is separated by a crafted wooden cage surrounded by backlit blue glass and lots of stainless steel, it’s industrial meets earthy, perfectly reflecting the young history of the region it resides in. Embroidered furniture and marbled Chinese forms play homage to Hakkasan’s roots and it’s a perfect blending of the Far East meets the Middle East, everything seamlessly merging to form one fantastic, exciting space. The bar is sectioned off and lit up with brilliant blue lighting that reflects off the glossy black surfaces. Each table in the restaurant is set far apart enough from its neighbours to ensure utmost privacy whilst still maintaining the buzzing atmosphere of animated chatter, music and laughter that Hakkasan provokes. It’s all so effortlessly cool.
The very best thing about Hakkasan however, is not the people spotting or the dazzling decor, it’s the food. Consistently good, it’s impossible to find something on the menu that is anything short of delicious. Signature Hakkasan dishes like Peking Duck with Caviar and Grilled Wagyu Beef with King Soy Sauce feature alongside a whole host of tailored dishes especially for the UAE clientele.
We were treated to a true feast of numerous dishes carefully selected by the attentive staff. Hakkasan is as great for group dining as it is for intimate dinners for two, such is the nature of the menu.
To start we enjoyed a selection of steam dim sum which consisted of Har gau, scallop shumai and prawn and chive dumplings, we accompanied this with a large crispy duck salad and Jasmine tea smoked Wagyu beef ribs. The combination of these three dishes was perfection, not too much and not too little. Bear in mind the portions are big at Hakkasan so if there is only two of you, two dishes should be adequate.
The main course part of the menu is where Hakkasan really comes alive. The legendary charcoal grilled silver cod is an absolute must, marinated in champagne and Chinese honey. The Sanpei chicken claypot is also excellent surrounded by sweet basil, chilli and spring onion but if you have any dish it simply must be the stir-fried lobster in black bean sauce with lotus root and lily bulb. Thick, meaty chunks of lobster nestle on a bed of vegetables and is not only beautiful to look at but absolutely delicious. Accompany your mains with lotus root and asparagus and Edamane egg fried rice.
It is rare that a Chinese restaurant serves up deserts that are of equal standard to the main courses but Hakkasan manages to do this well, a little too well. The desert menu is endless featuring everything from a Hazelnut Jivara bomb doused in chocolate sauce to a lemon meringue pot with mouth-wateringly good lemon mascarpone ice cream. The best thing about the desert menu is that each choice comes with a carefully recommended wine or cocktail.
The cocktail menu itself is quite small but the cocktails that are on the menu are so good, further options are not needed. The Hakka is the signature drink; a mixture of Belvedere Vodka, Sake, lychee juice, lime, coconut and passion fruit.
All in all Hakkasan is as fantastic in Abu Dhabi as any of the other branches around the world, it manages to keep onto its core charm whilst being located in the iconic Emirates Palace gives it a contradictory twist to its other locations. The food, service and atmosphere is consistently good and slows no sign of letting its culinary crown slip anytime soon.
All hail Hakkasan!