Over the past four years, I have done hundreds of restaurants in Manhattan, most of which have been memorable for all the right reasons. Last night, I was invited to experience Hakkasan on 43rd between 8th and 9th, and it truly became a religious experience for me in so many ways. Almost to the point where I can (potentially) say that it has been my favorite restaurant I have ever done up to now.
Here’s a little back story on Hakkasan to warm your taste buds before diving into the food portion of this article later. It was founded back in 2001, with its flagship location being across the pond in London. New York became their second restaurant to open in the states back in 2012, and has fared very well since its opening.
Since its opening, the accolades have poured in for this fierce and fabulous location. It won a Michelin star back to back in 2012 and 2013 and was also given a certificate of excellence by TripAdvisor.com in 2014. Not too shabby.
French architect Gilles & Bossier designed the New York location to reflect the interiors of its flagship space in London. It has quite the labyrinth of an entrance right when you walk in, almost like you are sashaying down a runway of sorts before you get to the hostess who seats you. The vibe inside is simply cool, calm and sophisticated and can easily be a spot where major celebrities hang out.
Now, onto the food. Hakkasan specializes in Cantonese cuisine, something that I am somewhat familiar with but haven’t tried as much as I would like. That being said, I went in with an open heart and mouth and was left feeling full and beyond happy as each option that was presented to us was beyond fantastic.
The tasting menu that myself and my friend were presented with was divided into three: Small Eat, Main, and Dessert. They are all designed to be shared, and come with a signature drink of sorts to compliment the food you are about to have.
In the small eats category, we tried their Hakka steamed dim sum platter. This came with Scallop Shumai, Har Gau, Prawn & Chinese Chive Dumpling and finally a Black Pepper Duck Dumpling. The preparation alone for these was simply magnificent, as the colors on each were so different from the rest and was inviting to boot. My favorite was the Scallop Shumai, as I may be impartial as I’m a big scallop fan, but it tasted amazing with such a big flavor explosion in your mouth.
We were then treated to their Jasmine Tea Smoked Pork Ribs, which had a subtle taste to them and the meat was fall off the bone good.
For their main course, we paired a NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne (so incredible) with Peking Duck served both ways. One was Peking Duck solo, sort of like if Beyonce left the group kind of way. The other was with Imperial Caviar and a side of Mandarin pancakes, spring onion, cucumber and hoi sin sauce.
Holy moly what a treat. Seriously. The Peking Duck by itself was great, it didn’t need much else as the flavor you got from it was superb. The one with Caviar was truly amazing, as all the flavors together created a bite that one should definitely experience while in Manhattan. Hoi sin sauce is so underrated and works so well with this dish, and even the spring onion provided a great crunch that made the overall concept even better.
We also were treated to one of their signature dishes called the Roasted Silver Cod, served with Champagne and Chinese honey sauce. Yes, Chinese honey sauce. It was foaming with deliciousness, and even though I was starting to get full, I was still able to appreciate the perfectly cooked piece of cod in all its glory.
To finish, they served us some yummy Jasmine Green Tea, great for this time of year with how cold it has been, and their Black Sesame and Chocolate Dumplings. I cannot describe how amazing the dumplings are, as you don’t really get into the flavor until it’s in your mouth for about 5 seconds. Then it hits you, then it gets somewhat orgasmic, and then you are done. Overall, this place is 10 out of 10 in my book, and you would be a fool for not going.
For more information on Hakkasan, please check out their official website.