Review: Hakkasan, Mayfair
It’s a gorgeous evening in Mayfair. The streets covered each side by the walls of stone buildings centuries old. A light breeze rustles through the streets and the busy people walk, busily. I roll my shoulders backwards and turn to my brother, ‘it’s a bit bloody warm!’.
We’re walking up to Berkley Square from Green Park. I love walking about around here, everyone looks like they’re going somewhere. Each man and woman in their crisp Jermyn Street entire beams ‘GET OUT MY WAY… peasant’.
If you’ve never been to Mayfair, think car showroom. Incredibly inviting, very clean, lots of places to perch, and literally everything you see will provoke your inner ‘ooooh, Devona, look! I bet that’s worth a few quid!’.
You see, I’ve not done the necessary research but, i’m pretty sure if you threw a brick in Mayfair you’d thump a Ferrari 458 Italia, or last weeks lottery winner.
The walk we took up to Berkley Square was very arousing. I felt like a teenage boy walking into Hugh Hefner’s garden on a hot Saturday. Just too much to look at and very little control over ones trouser department. The cars passing through, parked on street corners and picking up the oligarchs were magnificent.
By the time I arrived at Hakkasan in Mayfair I was both hot and sticky. This isn’t made better by the Hakkasan entrance which can only be described as being akin to a steam room with the lights turned off.
Fortunately, when entering, a blonde — was she blonde? — waitress led us to a hidden alley. We were asked if anything should be kept in the cloakroom. I passed over my work folio.
“Ah, a laptop, we shall keep it here”. She then tried bending my laptop just to reassure herself, “yep, it’s definitely a laptop”. Right.
Now a further walk down the corridor to the reception — you’re unable to just stand near the door and wait.
At Hakkasan the reception has it’s on space surrounded by lots of staff. This makes it really hard to identify who the maître d’ is. When giving our name a woman set her eyes at the computer bookings sheet whilst the others stared with smiling enmity. The only other time in life this occurs is when handing over precisely counted change for a newspaper. Whilst the cashier slowly works through the pennies and pounds you end up saying with guilt “that should be about right” or “think that’s enough”.
Hakkasan uses this anxiety at their reception to create an air of exclusiveness.
I know for a fact that, to many oligarchs and Arabian princes, Hakkasan is considered the go-to jaunt. The whole fuss and trepidation entering this secret dining location is attractiveness for the same reason they have a Bentley Continental parked outside — they lust high social stature.
I really don’t care for social climbers, they’re in the same league as pretension. And this is why, whilst the wannabe Roman Empress checked the bookings to decide my acceptability, I walked straight past towards the bar — If you want to discuss my reservation i’ll do it over a gee-and-tee.
When, eventually, you do get sat down in the restaurant, you will like it. The table spacing is top notch. Not close enough to hear others conversations but just far away to know you’re amongst others.
The menu is more of a book; very nice and leather-bound and identical to what you’d find in the letterbox from your local Golden Panda takeaway. Let’s be honest, how many ways can you really do Chinese cuisine?
We landed on ordering dim sum, squid, spring rolls and, for a main course, I selected the satay chicken.
The salt and pepper squid was insane. Squid has become such a popular delicacy across the UK in recent times and without doubt Hakkasan’s is delivering a dish in the top 1% — something you’d hope for when looking at the prices, that dish cost £14, and the plates aren’t even that massive.
The dim sum was crap. As useful as a chocolate teapot. The chef had obviously not made them for humans, let alone the Chinese. Ours either fell to pieces, unable to pick up, or couldn’t be broken at all, so eating them made one look like they were, choking on a large banana.
The rest of the food was totally fine and lovely. As I’ve commented on Hakkasan before, they are incredibly good at producing perfect dishes repeatedly. I always enjoy their satay chicken.
We didn’t do deserts, it’s never a strong course for any asian restaurant. I asked a someone in China this once and they explained a family “couldn’t eat ice cream and a operate successful rice paddy”.
On the other side of this coin, the service was very good, fast and organised — which is something asian cultures are very good at. Even if Hakkasan is owned by Americans, they don’t mess about, you could have a family of five in and out within the hour.
When we left it was still light and I could enjoy the cars left littered across the streets, to the joy of many inside; because, Hakkasan, though making terrific food, will seat you next to someone on the inside looking out. An oligarch, a prince, an empty husk with more time on their hand than anyone needs.
Don’t expect to find yourself in here musing amongst aristocrats and academics.