Hakkasan Mayfair Restaurant Review

I have for many years wondered whether the model of a restaurant that provides fantastically freshly cooked food to a huge number of covers is a) possible and b) worth it. I’ve also wondered whether the degree of light in a restaurant correlates with its success. As you can see, I live a sheltered existence.
Anyway, Last night I was invited to a mammoth of a meal in London. It was a friend’s birthday and he very kindly asked me to come as well. Hakkasan is a Chinese/Japanese/Fusion place, which is found all around the world, and walking in to the main entrance one could see why. It looked almost like a nightclub with a faded glass door and the likes of Steven Gerrard’s wife in the foyer (apparently;I wouldn’t know what she looked like…) and downstairs it was a labyrinth of corridors, with dining areas between. How the waiters find the tables is a mystery to me, as finding our table half way through the meal for the second time was a difficult challenge.
So onto the food. The menu is again a labyrinth, with a huge variety on offer. We ordered some great salt and pepper squid, perfectly cooked, not at all chewy, and crunchy without feeling fatty. The natural flavour of the squid shone through in this dish, not something you see that often, unfortunately.
There was crispy duck salad, with something like grapefruit, and pine nuts. For me this was the star of the whole evening, and I couldn’t find a single fault in it. It was a triumph. Crispy duck skin contrasting with fresh crunch of salad leaves, and then the citrusy zing of freshness at the end. I wish I could explain better just how good it was, but I fear that that could be difficult. It was a beauty to look at as well, with the pink fruit contrasting with golden duck skin and the bright green salad.
There was also jasmine smoked ribs. These were unctuous and sticky, perfectly cooked and utterly delicious. I felt rather fortunate to be able to eat so much of this food. In fact, going there and ordering individual dishes seems now to be not nearly as fun!
On to the mains. There was black Welsh beef with mushrooms, simple but again perfectly cooked. It was beautiful to look at too. It had the dense beef contrasting excellently with the crunchy vegetables, all coated in a thick brown sauce.
Spicy chicken with vegetables made an appearance, and I confess to not really thinking what vegetables they were. This spice was fantastic: it grew and grew until reached the back of your throat. There was fantastic rice, consistently good across the table as well.
Pudding was a rich decadent chocolate cake, filled with a smooth mousse. Utter perfection.
All in all last night’s meal showed me that the questions I posed earlier in this post have answers. So, yes, a restaurant can produce freshly cooked meals on demand to a huge number of covers, and yes it is worth it. And yes, if a restaurant is practically in complete darkness, this can correlate with a good eating experience, that is, unless the power is out.
Hakkasan Mayfair
Food: 9/10
Service: 8.5/10
Labyrinthness/trendiness/darkness: 8.5/10
Score: 8.67/10
Price: starters from £10, mains from £30, give or take.

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