Last Updated on October 26, 2019 by Fiona Maclean
Popular Dim Sum Sunday is now a brunch treat for the whole weekend
For some, it’s London’s most famous Chinese restaurant but Hakkasan Hanway Place announces itself rather modestly for a restaurant which has so much to shout about. So I was delighted to be invited along to try the famous Hakkasan Weekend Brunch.
Off Tottenham Court Road, in one of the West End’s dingy back streets, you could easily miss the restaurant’s low-key signage but you know you’ve come to the right place as you descend the dark staircase and the aroma of incense hits you in the nose. That’s the first hint that you and your senses are in for something special.
As you’re led to your table along corridors of beautifully carved screens, you can see how this large subterranean space with the exclusive air of a sophisticated night club has been split into smaller, intimate dining areas. The black tables are carefully spot-lit, putting the exquisite food firmly and rightly in the limelight.
Hakkasan offers a modern take on traditional Cantonese cuisine, using the best ingredients prepared by skilled chefs. Established in 2001 in London, Hakkasan now has a dozen restaurants around the world, including two in London where both have a Michelin star. Hakkasan Hanway Place was the first of the name, winning its first star after only a year and remains the brand’s spiritual home.
Reviewed here back in 2018, Hakkasan’s very popular Dim Sum Sunday has now been rolled out as a brunch treat for both Saturday and Sunday, served from noon to 6 pm each day. And it still remains excellent value, a great option for post-shopping or pre-theatre dining or a family celebration.
There are two menus to choose from, the standard and the vegetarian, with the same three drinks options in each. The Classic (£50 per head, minimum two persons) comes with a cocktail to start and then Rou Gui Cha Wang blue tea, the Character (£55) has the aperitif cocktail, a half bottle of wine and a digestif cocktail while the Signature (£62) swaps the wine for a half bottle of top-notch Louis Roederer champagne.
The cocktails are great – the Rose Blossom (Sipsmith Sloe gin, Cynar Aperitif, mandarin, pomegranate and lemon) is Campari-like, the Chinese Mule (Belvedere vodka, Akashi-Tai sake, coriander, ginger, lime and ginger beer) bursts with gingerness.
As for the food, to start things off there’s a light and fresh Crispy duck salad with pomelo, pine nuts and shallot, which is mixed for you at the table.
The salad not only tastes good, it looks good, as do the two types of dim sum, steamed and fried. The steamer is full of pretty and delicious dumplings, classic Har Gau, Chinese chive jade, Truffle chicken Shui Mai and White peppercorn seafood, all delightfully tasty.
The fried dim sum platter also has that wow factor, smartly puffed out with Black truffle pumpkin, Fried vermicelli chicken, Morel mushroom and Baked lamb, all good and crispy.
Although the dim sum are plentiful, there’s still room for a light main course or two. The menu offers Stir fry black pepper rib-eye beef and Spicy King prawns, served with crunchy Chinese-style asparagus and some really vibrant egg fried rice, sticky but not glutinous. The prawns are zingy, in a lightly creamy, Korma-like sauce, the beef meltingly tender and sweet, a bit barbecue.
The dessert really is a bit of a showstopper. A dish of chocolate cream topped with chocolate is theatrically melted in front of you. Served with both fresh and frozen mandarin, it’s a wonderful combination. A digestif cocktail like the Espresso Martini (Belvedere vodka, Bepi Tosolini Exprè and Mozzo coffee) is the right add-on.
For those who go vegetarian, the menu offers veggie variations on the standard dim sum with tempting mains of Tofu, aubergine and mushroom with chilli and black bean sauce or Stir-fry black pepper yellow bean with sugar snaps.
Non-alcoholic drinks include a Kowloon Cooler, a super fruity mix of strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, lychee, apple, cranberry and lemonade (there’s six of your five-a-day right there…)
Hakkasan’s dim sum are rightly picked out as one of the restaurant’s highlights but you don’t have to wait until the weekend to enjoy it. There’s a weekday Dim Sum Lunch menu and Hakkatini Nights, a weekly early evening cocktail hour where the drinks are accompanied by complimentary dim sum.
But for all-round excellence and value for money, the Weekend Brunch is hard to beat. So if you can’t beat them, join them!
8 Hanway Place
Hours of operation:
Lunch Monday – Friday: 12pm – 3pm
Dinner Monday – Wednesday: 5.30pm – 10.30pm
Thursday – Friday: 5.30pm – 11pm
Saturday: 12pm – 11pm
Sunday: 12pm – 10.30pm