Diners celebrating Chinese New Year at HKK this year get to delight in both the tasting menu and the stories and traditions that accompany the occasion.
Resplendent in red with vibrant uplighting and a ribbon fanfare of a central display, HKK makes for a pretty fine dining spot for intimate Chinese New Year celebrations.
Greeting you at your table is a beautifully designed menu-come-story book featuring embossed pages and pastel-coloured hand-drawings (illustrated by Emi Ueoka) that represent each of the eight courses you’ll soon be presented with, as well as details of the history and rituals that surround each dish. It’s thoughtfully put together and if you enjoy a bit of story-telling with your meal, the bound book (which you can take away as a memento) is the perfect accompaniment.
The first part begins with a Prosperity Platter – a light and crunchy salad of jellyfish, salmon skin, pomegranate and sesame that you ought to toss as high as you can as a signifier of good luck. This is accompanied by an oyster and Parma ham fortune wrap and an indulgent pork belly cube with perfectly crunchy skin topped off with mustard and goji berry foam.
Next, a wonderfully warming yin and yang soup of crab, egg, non-shark fin ‘shark fin’ soup with a spoonful of scallop and langoustine pieces. Don’t be afraid to swirl the lot together, slurping it up by the mouthful, it’s how it’s meant to be eaten.
Then come a show-stopping trio of dumplings that show off HKK’s finesse for delicate, Instagram-worthy presentation. Make your way round with tender Dover sole and caviar, scallop and foie gras and chicken in a crumbly pastry casing.
The Peking duck that follows is another one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Stuffed with Chinese five spice and showered in a scalding water, lemon and sugar mix to separate the skin from the meat, the duck is hung for 72 hours before it is roasted for your pleasure. When the dish is ready to be served, don’t be alarmed at the sight of the approaching knife-wielding chef – he’s there to carve up your duck. You’ll then be presented with three cuts of duck served three different ways –shoulder with brown sugar, breast with hoisin sauce and leg served shredded in a pancake – complete with some of the most flavoursome, crispy duck skin you’ll ever taste.
The indulgence continues with meaty and moist lobster pieces served with a large roll of longevity noodles drizzled in XO sauce. The noodles do just keep on going so keep your napkin close to keep things clean as you unfurl it. Then it’s back to the light, pretty touches that HKK know so well. Bite-sized Sichuan lamb pieces come with a touch of spice and are accompanied by an arrangement of sticky rice cakes and vegetables.
In the spirit of generosity, it’s only fair that two desserts make their way onto the menu, and they’re pretty darn spectacular ways to finish. First, there’s a refreshing iced tea infused with citrusy osmanthus flowers accompanied by a bowl of three chocolate balls filled with vanilla ice cream and mandarin pieces. Once you pop, you really can’t stop – it’s a perfectly judged dessert that’ll leave you craving for more. Luckily, an equally zingy apple parfait and sorbet with cardamom cake cubes follows – it’s a green apple delight with sweetness at every turn, from the surprise jelly cubes to the subtly-favoured noodle crisp.
Finally, a serving of pick-your-own petits fours rounds off the feast – if you need a little help with the choice, you’re onto a winner with the chocolate balls – there’s a smoked salted caramel filling and a white chocolate passion fruit creation that’ll take you to chocolate heaven.
The menu costs £88 per person and is available until 20 February 2016. hkklondon.com