Beyond the opulent five-star hotels of Hong Kong, ‘Cantonese fine dining’ can seem an oxymoron. Cantonese restaurants in London are better known for garish decor, abrupt service and slapped-together dishes shared by noisy families.
HKK reinvents the entire experience. The Hakkasan Group describes its latest venture as ‘bespoke Cantonese fine dining’. While it’s unclear what the tailor-made aspect is – our prix fixe menus (and their prices) were only presented to us at the end of the meal, and there was no à la carte option – the latter half of the promise is no exaggeration. HKK serves up beautifully presented, exquisitely prepared dishes crafted from high-quality ingredients.
The eight-course lunch menu offered at lunch (£48) will persuade even the most sceptical (including Prince Philip who famously said, ‘If it has four legs and is not a chair, if it has two wings and flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it’) that Cantonese food can be sophisticated. The tone is sealed the moment you bite into the first starter, a delicate mouthful of fried silken tofu, pickled water chestnut, and shimeji mushroom tied with a translucent strip of Iberico ham. The next course, a trilogy of dim sum, was among the best of we’ve had. As was the peking duck, ceremoniously carved in front of diners. The perfectly crisped skin is served with both hoisin sauce and a pinch of sugar, just like in Beijing’s top roast-duck restaurants.
Each subsequent dish was equally flawless, but few elicited the ‘wow’ we hoped for. Despite the innovative use of ingredients, the flavours were resolutely familiar – but that’s hardly a fault if you’re seeking authenticity.
HKK is testament to the potential of Cantonese cooking, the finest of China’s regional cuisines (when executed properly). Just don’t go with an empty stomach or wallet. The portions are tiny; the bill