To mark the Year of the Monkey, Hakkasan restaurants have created a special Chinese New Year menu and are bringing the Chinese wishing tree tradition to diners.
Hakkasan have laid on quite a feast for diners in their restaurants this Chinese New Year and have lit up their dark interiors with celebratory flashes of red and gold to mark the occasion.
Look a little closer and you’ll find handwritten notes on each of the coloured ribbons, inspired by the tradition of writing wishes on paper tied to citrus fruits that are tossed into the branches of the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree in Hong Kong. You’ll be presented with your own to inscribe your hopes and wishes onto which will be duly hung up in the restaurant before your meal begins.
First, whet your lips with a fruity 9 Hou cocktail, an Eldorado three-year-old rum, Amontillado sherry, banana and guava concoction or stick with the equally refreshing Sheng Fizz mocktail, a mix of mandarin, guava, peach and ginger ale. The golden monkey cocktail stirrer is a fun touch before it gets serious, as what follows is an extravaganza of eight gloriously indulgent courses that shows off the restaurant’s flair for rich, feel-good flavours that leave you pining for more.
Warm up the taste buds gently with a fragrant bowl of double-boiled ginseng and chicken soup with soft rolls of bamboo pith and tender chicken cubes, before switching textures with bite-sized, crunchy cracker cups brimming with diced Japanese Wagyu beef, pine nuts and chopped vegetables. The dim sum selection that follows features all the big-hitters from har gau prawn dumplings and scallop shumai to Chinese chive dumplings and a gnawingly tasty duck and yam bean creation.
Then come the mains, which features no less than five dishes, so exercise chopstick-control until they’ve all been presented – it’s an impressive sight if you’ve managed to remain patient. With a bowl of fried rice mixed with crab meat and shredded scallops as your base (perfectly flavoursome on its own – a good sign that no dish plays second fiddle on the menu), work your way through the meat and vegetable accompaniments.
Sure, the menu encourages sharing but it’ll also leave you fighting over two of its most indulgent dishes – the meaty wok-fried lobster in a spicy truffle sauce (on the mild side) with truffle shavings, and a beautiful hunk of Chilean sea bass coated in honey and lightly grilled so it’s still as tender and moist as you would hope.
Pipa duck is lovely and lean (although could do with a touch more hoisin sauce to save from scraping the plate clean prematurely) and the stir-fry of hericium mushrooms, lotus root, asparagus and lily bulbs in a mild, black pepper glaze demonstrates just how appealing vegetables can be if dressed in all the right sauces.
This is topped with the aptly named Golden Halo dessert – a banana and soy caramel ring cake with a different set of flavours and textures at every turn, from banana chunks and peanuts, to vanilla ice cream and an explosive banana puree chocolate bomb that’ll blow your taste buds away.
If you want the full Chinese New Year works, book in at the Hanway Place restaurant on Thursday 11 February or in Mayfair on Friday 12 February for a live Chinese lion dance.
The menu costs £88.88 per person and is available until 22 February 2016. hakkasan.com/chinese-new-year