Food and drink
Scallop shui mai (light steamed pork dumplings), sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, and turnip cake with egg and chives are among my yum cha favourites – I always ask for a dish of gai lan (a green vegetable) with salted fish and chillies too. In the evenings try the wonderful homemade tofu, sweet and sour Duke of Berkshire pork with pomegranate, spicy salad of Japanese mountain yam and bitter melon with XO sauce (a chilli-hot seafood sauce), and the signature roast silver cod with Champagne and Chinese honey, which veers towards French cuisine. Sometimes my husband and I just drop by for a couple of cocktails – usually a saketini and one of the wonderful lychee concoctions.
Hakkasan is a modern, very sophisticated interpretation of a 1930s opium den. Doormen add an air of exclusivity in the evenings, when the bar is packed. Weekday lunchtimes see a media and business crowd, on weekends it’s a discerning family custom (though that’s rather incongruous given the sultry décor).
The hostesses are graciousness personified; waiting staff are formal, polite but not too friendly. The irritation is having to ask specially for the dim sum menu at lunchtime and, at the bar, getting a drink can take an age.
The discreet entrance is on a West End alley, behind Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road.
You can eat and drink very well for £25 a head at lunchtime, but go in the evening or order à la carte and you can expect to pay £200 for two.
There is a new branch in Mayfair but it's something of a carbon copy and lacks the charm of the original ‐ see the website below for details.
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