Imagine getting an invite to one of the restaurants that’s been of your list of ‘places to go’ to for a while, even better the invite is not just to try some of the dishes, it’s to learn how to make them and to go behind the scenes and cook with some of the team. Literally, a dream come true. And so recently I was invited to visit Hakkasan famous for its modern chinese cuisine and one of those places on my ‘places to go’ list 🙂
On arrival we were greeted with some great juice, coffee and sweet treats before being provided with Chef Jackets and hats. After a quick briefing we set off to the kitchens to watch the chefs in action and to participate in a little cooking too.
Firstly we started with Grilled Shanghai dumplings which the chef made with ease. Explaining that the dumplings are made fresh each day, he thoroughly mixed together a combination of prawns and minced chicken thigh with various spices before expertly making the wrapper and rolling out perfectly shaped dumplings. These were then steamed and quickly pan-fried before being served. Our attempts at making these were not so great – whilst the chef made it look easy, getting the wrapper perfectly round and the right thickness is more difficult than it seems, as is inserting just the right amount of filling before expertly rolling the dumpling so that it matches all the others. It’s a skill which he explained had taken many years of training.
We then moved onto Green Vegetable Salad with Lemongrass Dressing. Using the freshest of ingredients and a great balance of spices, and dressing – the salad was put together in a potato basket using a combination of fresh asparagus, sundried tomatoes, a spicy lemongrass dressing and some beautiful fresh salad leaves finished off with some dried tomatoes which tasted simply amazing with an intensity of a deep tomato taste but the texture of a crunchy dry shell – it was a seriously tasty fusion dish.
For mains we watched as the Chef firstly made Sangpei Chicken Claypot with Spring Onions, Chilli and Sweet Basil a dish which though fresh, tangy, spicy and tasty in flavour was cooked in a matter of minutes in an extremely hot wok thanks mainly to the huge amount of preparation done prior to the dish being cooked, something which was a consistent them throughout the kitchen.
The final dish consisted of Charcoal Grilled Chillean Seabass with Chinese Honey. This is one of the signature dishes and consisted of beautifully marinaded fillets of chilean seabass which were simply grilled over charcoal and presented with tempura mushrooms and some chinese greens which were similar to bok choy. This dish looks amazing, the rich marinade for the seabass gives it the colour of a salmon fillet, yet when you slice into the fish the succulent white flesh of this sweet fish shows through which is visually attractive and tasty too – it’s bound to impress.
This is a restaurant where the passion of the chefs shines through, like many chefs in the industry, the team have dedicated significant amount of their working careers in the industry perfecting their skills and translating good quality ingredients into simply stunning dishes.
The best part of the day was still to come as we moved outside to enjoy the beautiful oriental garden and got to taste the dishes we had seen prepared as well as a few other signature dishes including the duck salad and rib eye beef in black bean sauce. Everything tasted great and looked good too. Good food enjoyed, made by great chefs, enjoyed in the company of a group of foodies makes for a great lunch, thank you Hakkasan and Ahlan Gourmet for a fantastic opportunity to see the passion of the team behind the scenes. I will need to return to sample some of the cocktails which I’m told are worth a visit as well as to sample dishes from the rest of the menu 🙂