How I Found Out:
It’s around 11:30 am, I’m half asleep and at work (a bank). I pick up the phone and proceed to dial my client’s number (a lighting manufacturer) to discuss a project we would potentially be financing. A 04, 7 numbers and two rings later a voice on the other end of the phone says “Hello this is Hakkasan”.
Sitting up on my chair I respond with, “Excuse me? Did you say Hakkasan? The restaurant? Did I call Abu Dhabi by mistake? Did you say Hakkasan?” (I repeat myself when I’m confused)
After several minutes of clarification and 4 follow-up phone calls, on my part, I get a table booked for the opening – score!
How I Experienced Hakkasan:
Aimlessly wandering around Emirates Towers calling out Hakkasan’s name, I finally see a randomly placed blue carpet rolled out next to Cartier and think – this must be it.
Opening the doors to the restaurant I first notice the smell of Chinese incense and then stunning architecture which blocks all other senses from activating. Taking my tour around the restaurant an Oh Wow follows another Oh Wow and then another. Where did all this come from? And where am I? Is what I feel.
Taking my seat, I order my favorite drink, a Lyche Martini, and start exploring their menu. Their menu is roughly divided into soups, small eats, seafood, poultry, meat, tofu, vegetarian and noodles and rice. My party of two stunning men arrives and we make a string of orders left, right and center – the more the merrier is the theme.
Our starters of a dimsum platter, soft shell crab, prawn toast, pandan prawn and beef ribs arrive.
As the lid of the dimsum platter is lifted a plume of smoke escapes. I quickly locate the most interesting looking one and go for it – the volcano. I pop it into my mouth and the rich, meat brothy lava gushes out as I bite into it.
I take a bite out of my beautifully presented prawn toast and a squirt of foie gras sprays out. As I continue chewing, I start to notice that there may be too much bread in each bite and not enough prawn meat and foie gras.
Both my soft shell crab and pandon prawn have powerful spicy kicks which I enjoy, although they both need a good dunking in a sauce to make the bite worthwhile.
The beef ribs look gorgeous its color resembling a dark bordeaux infused with an eggplant purple. A nail polish color I would die for and in true Essie form it would be named “Oral Fixation”. (That was for my mani lovers) The beef ribs hit the trilogy of S’s – Sweet, soft and Smokey.
Our mains of champing silver cod, XO lobster, Pipa duck, 5 spice beef and veggie fried rice arrive.
Biting in to the pipa duck goes something like this, crunchiness then softness, crunchiness then softness. The duck skin is cooked to ultimate crispiness while the meat remains soft. Paired with fresh ginger, this may be the best duck bite I have ever had.
Taking a bite of the champagne drenched cod I remember a blow your mind blockbuster movie trailer (the description on the menu) followed by a not so spectacular movie (bite). I feel as though the cod needs more of a smoky touch to it. It is not bad by all means, but it falls short of my expectations especially at AED 230 a pop.
Our five spice beef is simple, traditional and classic. Although one of my gorgeous men exclaimed that he could get the exact same dish in Karama for less than half the price.
The XO lobster is greatly welcomed, soft lobster in the signature XO sauce infused with vegetables which is what we missed from the other main offerings.
And finally a pannacotta with a much needed sorbet on top which serves as a refresher to cleans our pallet.
As I bid farewell to Hakkasan, which was my date for the evening, memories of our oh-so-important first date race through my mind. I can most closely resemble Hakkasan to a STUNNING woman with an alright personality. You can’t help but be in her company just to stare at her but after several hours, maybe days or weeks you would be asking for more.
With the price tag and the hype I expected each dish to easily be hit out of the park one after the other Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam. Unfortunately I got several runners on the plate a couple strikes and only three home runs – the beef ribs, the pipa duck and the XO lobster.