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|Address:||8 Hanway Place, London W1T 1HD|
|Tel:||020 7927 7000|
|Price: £72.00||Wine: £32.00||Champagne: £74.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-3pm (Sat -4pm Sun -5.45pm) 6-11pm (Thurs-Sat 5.30pm-12:30am)|
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I’d been warned by friends: it’s dark, it’s noisy and it’s expensive. And yes, it was all of the above and I might have added that it also has the kind of waiters tasked with guaranteeing a quick turn-round of tables and ensuring that water and wine glasses were topped up pretty well between every sip. (I’m also slightly suspicious of places where a lot of people drink either cocktails or champagne with their entire meal.) But the food was imaginative, very flavoursome and reasonably plentiful (at a price). This was real fusion rather than over-confident confusion.
Situated rather unpromisingly at the end of a cul-de-sac off a rather grotty alley near the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street (ie the wrong end!), Hakkasan’s initial impression is rather like curb-side check-in for Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class (only with the lights out!). Be-suited men, and red uniformed greeters check your reservation before allowing you downstairs. Then another half dozen staff check your coat, re-check your reservation and take you to your table. Even mid-week it was packed. It was dark. And it was very noisy (every surface is hard; there’s not a piece of fabric to absorb sound anywhere but the dark wood screens look great). There’s a nice vibe and a real sense of people having fun. It’s the kind of place to take a potential mistress, a business contact who needs to be impressed or a couple of lively friends. It’s probably not the sort of place for an intimate evening with someone for whom constant banter is not necessary. Oh, and do wear black!
We started with a glorious lamb salad – slivers of crispy, sweet, spicy meat piled ziggurat-like on a plate and interspersed with thin slices of melon and various unidentified crisp and rather discreetly flavoured vegetables (kohl rabi, perhaps?). We also had the dim sum selection – two each of four nicely contrasted steamed dumplings. Mains were the spicy Ma Ce chicken of which they’d managed to get the skin to resemble that of a Peking duck. It was very tasty. The braised pork belly in plum sauce was infused with the flavour of kumquat and was a triumph, a real fusion of flavours and textures. For a side we ordered a mix of crispy lotus root, asparagus and various other vegetables, as well as a bowl of fried rice. Puddings were a trio of ice-creams (banana, chestnut and chocolate) and a rather disappointing coconut rice-pudding.
The wine list, cleverly divided by style, is pricey, climbing fast from a rare bottle or two in the £30s to the £50s and then up to bottles in the hundreds. We went for a New Zealand pint noir at £50. Throw in a couple of cocktails (£11 each) and a bottle of fizzy water (£4.60), plus service at 13% and we left having spent £183.96 – quite a lot for a mid-week dinner but, on balance, it was a good meal and I’ll probably be going back. The only alarming note was the relentlessness of the assault on the two diners to our side who’d overstepped their two-hour dining slot by a couple of minutes. I was quite expecting them to be carried out… I downed my ice-cream rather faster than normal.