From February 8th until March 1st Hakkasan are offering a nine-course set-menu to celebrate Chinese New Year. Esquire tried a preview of the set menu and it’s a faultless meal.
Esquire has long been fans of both Hakkasan and the set menu concept, so this is a good way to let one of the best restaurants in the Middle East really show off what they can do. This limited-edition menu was created by Michelin-starred International Executive Chef Ho Chee Boon and comprises signature dishes as well as his take on authentic Chinese New Year food. It will be the same in branches around the world.
The modern Cantonese restaurant has become one of the hangouts for A-listers in its New York, London and Beverly Hills venues, but lucky for us, Dubai doesn’t have the likes of Jay Z and his mates over-popularizing a place and making is hard to get a table. And the Dubai venue at Emirates Towers is large so you should be able to get in pretty much when you want. This really is something that people in Dubai are spoiled with – the ability to eat incredible food at top restaurants without having to book weeks or months in advance.
In the Middle East, Hakkasan still sets that standard for high-end Chinese food. We’ve put the set menu below for you to see but this in itself doesn’t really explain things fully. For example, the stir-fry rib eye beef with black pepper sauce is no doubt a dish you’ve had before, probably even in a takeaways, but the beef here will be among the best you’ve ever had cooked in a way that even top steakhouses would struggle to match. Then you’ll find you no longer want to order it from your local because it doesn’t – and will never – match up.
(Sorry Noodle House, them’s the breaks – that and your tardy delivery)
Likewise, Hakkasan’s spicy lamb wraps are light and crisp on the outside with a shredded meat centre that is the best way we’ve eaten lamb in a very long time. Shorn of the thick, fatty texture you get in something like a Sunday roast or a shawarma, this elevates it to something you haven’t tried before.
The grilled Chilean sea bass with Chinese honey could be argued as Hakkasan’s Chinese response to the Japanese blackened cod you get at Nobu. It’s comparable and the soft and sweet flakes hold up well to comparison to the dish that practically defines Nobu. Here, it’s just one other thing on a menu that reads and tastes like a greatest hits of Hakkasan.
You get the idea. Everything on this set menu is exceptional and disproving the tired maxim that you don’t get great desserts east of Egypt, the kumquat wishing tree dessert with its mix of chocolate, caramelized macadamia nuts and coca rocks is a beautifully balance combination.
Also worth noting, diners will receive a red envelope (as is traditionally exchanged on Chinese New Year) with special gift for a complimentary cocktail and if you go on the 19th they’ll have a traditional lion dance going through the restaurant. But really, you should go for the food and this set menu is a great way to experience why so many people worldwide are raving about Hakkasan.
Here’s the (visually annotated) Chinese New Year set menu:
Dim Sum Platter (1)
Spicy lamb lupin wrap (2)
Golden shell soft fried crab with red chili and curry leaf
Spicy prawn with lily bulb and almond (3)
Stir-fry rib eye beef with black pepper sauce (4)
Grilled Chilean sea bass with Chinese honey (5)
Stir-fry lily bulb with garlic shoot with preserved olive and dry chili
Abalone and dry scallop fried rice
Kumquat wishing tree (5)
The Chinese New Year menu is available at Hakkasan Dubai at Dhs450 per person and at Hakkasan Abu Dhabi at Dhs388 per person.