“Hakkasan was always more than a restaurant; it was an immersive experience.” Neil Moffitt, CEO
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi, located in the majestic Emirates Palace, is in my opinion the shiniest jewel in the hotel’s golden crown. This dark and mysterious restaurant is the embodiment of sheer elegance and sophistication with its discreet dining area filled with dark wood carved lattice screens backlit with blue glass, sumptuous outdoor terrace (amazing fire-lit place to dine weather permitting), trendy bar, relaxing lounge and of course the intensely flavoured modern Cantonese cuisine and accomplished service.
The other half and I were invited to sample a Taste of Hakkasan, an early evening four-course seasonal menu that offers a selection of individually served starters, soups, main courses and desserts devised by Chef de Cuisine Andy Toh. The menu also includes a cocktail designed to revitalise diners during the hot summer months and of course equally refreshing non-alcoholic mocktails are also available.
We started at the dramatic and moody-lit incredibly well-stocked bar, which is always impressive no matter how many times you visit, I have seriously never seen so many different varieties of spirits displayed in bottles of all shapes and sizes. The interior design is on point and you have to applaud the aesthetics of the whole venue, even down to the bathrooms. As you perch on bar stools at the long expansive of blue glass, light bounces off the slate walls behind the copious amount of bottles and the experienced bartenders take care of your every need. I tried one of the Kokohana cocktails which was both a tasty and refreshing blend of pineapple, basil leaves, coconut rum and lychee juice and the other half, who was the designated driver for the evening had a berry based mocktail. The extensive cocktail menu features iconic drinks that have benefitted from a modern Asian twist offering unique flavour combinations devised by the Hakkasan mixologists, having sampled a fair few over the years I can predict that you will enjoy them too.
We moved on to our corner banquette table in the intimate dining area and after discussing drinks with our graceful traditionally costumed waitress we ordered our starters of Vegetarian Fried Dim Sum platter and a Crispy Duck Salad followed by soups of Hot and sour chicken and Chinese Wild Mushroom. The beautifully presented dishes arrived promptly and were as delicious to eat as they were to look at, having previously only tried steamed Dim Sum I was curious to try the fried version and I wasn’t disappointed with the crispy light pastry of my mooli roll and box dumpling. The crispy duck salad blended duck with pomelo, pine nuts and shallots and the other half was impressed with its zingy flavours and textures, his chopsticks working overtime to eat it all as quickly as possible. The soups were just as flavoursome and served at the perfect temperature.
Our waitress then gave us the option to rest awhile to enjoy the ambiance and digest the first two courses or carry straight on with the mains, if you have ever been to dinner with the other half you know he was not going to wait for food! Surprisingly he had opted for more duck and his stir-fryed kung po roasted duck arrived in synch with my tofu and aubergine clay-pot in black bean sauce with shiitake mushrooms, both served with steamed jasmine rice. The aroma from the intense flavours of both dishes was hard to resist and we tucked in immediately and I can throughly recommend my dish, the rich sauce and the melt in the mouth aubergine were cooked to perfection. The other half was full having polished off all his own dishes and the remnants of all mine too!
Dessert was easy for me as my favourite Hakkasan sweet treat makes an appearance on The Taste of Hakkasan menu, Chocolate fondant with banana ice cream which was just as heavenly this time as it was the last time I ordered it. Hot chocolate sauce oozed from the light sponge as I cut into it, perfectly paired with the cold banana flavour of the ice-cream, so good I can’t tell you! The other half opted for the palette cleansing trio of homemade sorbet which was both colourful and tasty too with the more unusual flavours of pineapple, rhubarb and ginger with lime. See the full A Taste of Hakkasan menu here
Hakkasan has embraced the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang, using the concept of opposite forces complementing each other in both its food and decor. Bitter, salty and sour Yin foods feature on the innovative menu alongside the sweet and pungent Yang variety and the whole interior is awash with dark and light elements that give an extra air of elegance and mystery. The award-winning concept (the Hanway Place venue in London was the first Chinese to receive a Michelin star) has eleven other locations around the world including one in nearby Dubai, celebrates its fifth anniversary in Abu Dhabi this month offering signature Hakkasan dishes and those specially created for the region. Over the last five years the venue has firmly become the benchmark of Asian cuisine here in the capital and won a plethora of awards in its own right. On first glance it may seem pretentious and pricey but it’s not pompous at all and there are many affordable options such as the Taste of Hakkasan menu and an early evening cocktail and dim sum option. For those like to flash their cash there is the whole Peking duck with Royal Beluga caviar option from the Supreme Special Dishes section of the full menu at a whopping AED1900 (approx £340).
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal from the Taste of Hakkasan menu that offers a superb selection of the authentic Cantonese cuisine from the full menu, combining exciting flavours and textures and every course was an absolute delight for our taste buds. The fastidious attention to detail is crystal clear at every turn in this venue located in The East Wing of the palace that even has its own valet and entrance. From the moment we arrived to our farewell, we were very well looked after by manager Paulo Bastos and his team and had the most fantastic experience. I thoroughly recommend a visit to this gorgeous world-renowned restaurant and don’t forget to hang out at the bar too.
Hakkasan, Abu Dhabi
Location: Emirates Palace
Telephone: 02 690 7999
A Taste of Hakkasan menu is daily from 6pm – 7:30pm
Price: From AED 165++ per person
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Fourth photo used courtesy of www.hakkasan.com