Chinese New Year @ Hakkasan, Hanway Place
The first thing that hits you is the smell – the spicy contents of a well-to-do lady’s perfume closet. Then the enveloping darkness as you descend into a glitzy labyrinth – the sort of mood-lighting that makes other date joints look like casual lunch spots. And then the elegant hostess who teases your coat from your hands and returns a transparent black plastic token slicker than a high roller chip. This place is meticulous at upholding the Hakkasan brand.
And what is that brand? Aside from luxury, Hakkasan is a Michelin-starred dining experience with an extremely sexy edge. It’s Cantonese food in a boudoir setting, and a sure fire way to impress a date. Unlike pretentious style-over-substance joints, the crowd is a mix of people who have either loved it, en famille, for years or slick singles who use it as their first port of call for romance. Business dinners are conducted in a setting-appropriate manner, with calm grace and good manners, while dates are conducted the only way they should be – with smouldering looks, delicate sips and the seductive feeding of dumplings.
And for a short while, to celebrate The Year of The Monkey, regulars can return for some new very indulgent menu items, a potent rum cocktail and a gift at the end of meal (a Monkey Coin – who doesn’t need that).
Chinese New Year Menu – The Year of The Monkey
This menu is perfect for a boozy double date with your favourite couple. The tasting menu is made up of nine dishes and priced at £88.88.
Start with Double boiled fresh Ginseng and chicken soup, next the Wagyu beef and pine nut golden cup, then the Dim sum platter. Follow up with insanely good lobster in spicy truffle sauce, Pipa duck, Grilled Chilean seabass in honey and a Hericium mushroom stri-fry with lotus roots, asparagus and lily bulb in black pepper. BREATHE. Oh and scallop and crab meat fried rice.
Dessert is a Golden Halo – a banana and peanut cake with cream and caramel and chocolate topped with gold leaf. Accompanied by a punchy El Dorado rum cocktail.
Your game is largely irrelevant here, since the Hakka empire have gone so far in creating a seductive assault on the senses. Aftershave is trumped by signature fragrances, clever make-up rendered pointless in the dim glow and expert chat eclipsed by tonnes of excellent food to tackle.
The only thing I advise is to get the dress code right – relaxed but expensive. Guys, focus on great shoes, nice jeans and a crisp shirt – just keep the work suit on if it’s a good one. Ladies, if it’s the weekend then go for a bodycon or cocktail number – not too trash, just one colour. Alternatively, the all black combo works a charm – blend in like a Scandi fashionista.
Meet at the table, so you can experience the descent alone. Stay for the allotted 2 hours and be pleasantly wafted to the bar where the real drinking happens. Taxi to Sketch for a nightcap and kiss like naughty kids by the egg shaped toilets in the coolest bathroom in London.
Get excited about the food and you’ll be too full to function. And perhaps out of pocket.
5. Coma dependent, of course.