25 July 2014

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Hakkasan takes hold of the City


Chrysan_2012_-__Bar_CM.jpgThe Hakkasan Group is getting ready to launch two new restaurants this autumn – both in the City. The first, Chrysan (pictured, right), will be a high-end Japanese restaurant overseen by multi-Michelin-starred Japanese chef Yoshihiro Murata and due to open in September; the second, HKK, will be an evolution of the Hakkasan brand – a high-end kitchen that the company hopes will become a ‘centre of excellence’ for Chinese cuisine. Its launch is planned for later in the year.

Until recently, Hakkasan had been renowned for its Michelin-starred Chinese food – although the group’s purchase of Japanese restaurant Sake No Hana from restaurateur Jamie Barber in 2011 signalled a change of direction for the company.

‘I’d been a bit concerned with the supply of Chinese chefs, for visa reasons and for skill reasons,’ Niall Howard, CEO of Hakkasan Group, told Square Meal. ‘We thought it would be wise to diversify so we decided to build a Japanese family concept similar to the Hakkasan family concept. That’s why we bought Sake No Hana.

‘We want to develop a series of Japanese restaurants at different levels – from fine-dining to casual – and we hope to evolve Chrysan along the lines of Hakkasan.

The company’s plan is to align Chrysan with Hakkasan and, once the brand has become established, develop more casual Japanese concepts as spin-offs from it.

‘Chrysan will become the brand centre for our Japanese arm, like Hakkasan is for our Chinese family,’ explained Howard. ‘Chrysan will offer bespoke dining, with a smaller number of covers, and the kitchen will try to push the boundaries of Japanese food. We already have Sake No Hana, which is pitched a bit above smart-casual dining – it’s probably at Yauatcha’s level. And later we hope to spin something out of Chrysan which will be more a mid-level concept.’

hakk2 - Hakkasan-DS_(30).jpgThe new restaurants will also move the company out of its city-centre comfort zone: while Hakkasan (pictured, left), Hakkasan Mayfair, Sake No Hana and Yauatcha are all located in London’s West End, Chrysan and HKK will both be located in the City’s Broadgate West.

‘We already have a presence in the West End, so we needed to look at other areas,’ said Howard. ‘The City is an interesting area at the moment – what with the Olympics, the development of the East End, and the opening of more and more successful restaurants and residential apartments, it’s becoming the epicentre of London. Restaurants there are no longer going to be as reliant on City workers as they used to be.

‘It will take a while for the City to become a hotspot at the weekend, so at the beginning, we’ll be closed on Sunday. But I think eventually that area will be buzzing all weekend.’

Howard also has plans for the company to expand across the UK.

‘The Hakkasan brand wouldn’t work regionally – even in Europe it just tends to just work in major cities,’ he said. ‘But we’d like to expand the Yauatcha brand regionally next year, and there’s no reason that Sake No Hana can’t become a regional brand either in the future.’

For the moment, though, despite continued worldwide expansion, Hakkasan has its sights firmly set on the City – and autumn will see its two new ventures standing shoulder to shoulder with City stalwarts such as L’Anima, and stylish newcomers such as Sushisamba and Duck & Waffle.

This feature was published in August 2012.

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