Mayfair’s Asian eatery is a minger’s heaven, in the hide-your-ugly-mug stakes, the only place that can beat it is Dans Le Noir – the pitch black restaurant. In the depths of Hakkasan, Eastenders’ Barry becomes Brad and Tolkien’s auks – angels.
With a flattering light like no other, the ultra-smooth, city-boy frequented Hakkasan is proving popular with the dating crowd. On arrival, we were quickly wedged into a little booth – either side of which were couples. One looked like a first date, the other like an extra-marital affair. What better place to go for them? We were right next to them, and though we witnessed their groping, we couldn’t make out their faces.
Trying to hide my shock (rather unsuccessfully) at the face-munchers to our right, my dining companion – in a bid to distract me – ordered two cocktails. I was treated to a perfectly crafted mojito, he to a rather disappointing Moscow mule.
Four “God you’re sexy”‘s from our neighbours’ table later and our starters had arrived. We were in a sharing mood and opted for the ‘dim sum platter’ (scallop shumai, har gau,prawn Chinese chive dumpling and duck dumpling) and the ‘crispy duck salad’.
I’m not a dim sum connoisseur, but I hope for dim sum’s sake that Hakkasan hasn’t done it justice. Bland and watery, each bite of the bite-size morsel felt like chewing on paddy-field sludge. The crispy duck salad was even worse; it tasted as if there was as much duck in it as there is beef in a Tesco’s beef-burger. Indeed, so crispy was this dish that any traces of duck had been incinerated long before it reached the table.
The main course was more successful. We had roasted silver cod with Champagne and honey, pan-fried Wagyu beef in spicy Szechuan sauce and a side of bok choy. The cod was exceptionally tender; if blindfolded it could have passed for sashimi, and it’s Champagne and honey sauce was both warming and indulgent. The Wagyu beef pleasantly gave the jaw little exercise and the Szechuan sauce offered a kick that, after the dim sum disaster, the tastebuds were yearning. Bok choy isn’t a norm for my palate and though I enjoyed the novelty, I wouldn’t be in a rush to have it again.
My (city-boy) dining companion and I decided to pass on pudding – the ‘sweet nothings’ that were being whispered next door had filled any previous sweet void. Instead, we had another round of cocktails, decided to head onward to Annabel’s and ordered the bill.
Now this, this was the most unsatisfactory point in the evening. Yes, we were in Mayfair, yes, we were intending to go on to Annabel’s but even with this in consideration, the price was ludicrous. Just under £200. Daylight, or rather lack-there-of-light robbery.
After parting with the extortionate sum of money we set off back up the stairs and back into the streets of Mayfair. The streets were now as dark as the restaurant, I turned to my friend: “Thank God I knew what you looked like, Barry definitely would have gotten away with it!”
17 Bruton Street