Friday 9 August 2013

HKK, London

Great British Menu aside, for a “foodie” I do not watch a great deal of TV cooking shows – I can’t stomach Greg Wallace so that rules out MasterChef (even those with Michel Roux Jr. are not enough to neutralise the Wallace factor); baker Paul Hollywood has a similar effect on me and, despite often great guest chefs, I find magazine style programmes such as Saturday Kitchen, “cringey” at best.

I do however read a great deal – cookbooks, chef biographies and tales of epicurean travels and alike. One author whose books (and blog) that I always enjoy is Fuchsia Dunlopan English writer and chef who specialises in Chinese cuisine and whose writings have reignited my passion.

I used to love Chinese food more than any other but over the years, due to too many greasy MSG laden takeaways and poor restaurant experiences, as a cuisine, it had dropped down my list of favourites. (Nowadays, when people ask, I tell them that I generally prefer Japanese and Thai.) 

That said, when it is done well, it is still hard to beat - my travels in Asia, including eating the perfect duck at ‘Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck’ in Singapore and a phenomenally good ‘Pan-Mee’ in Kuala Lumpur, have provided dishes that rank amongst some of the best things I have ever eaten – a gourmet trip to Hong Kong and China remains one of my ultimate dreams.

Closer to home, places such as Red Chilli and Yang Sing in Manchester, serve some wonderful dishes and dim sum - albeit ‘hidden’ amongst a menu of greasy ‘crowd pleasing favourites’. In London, I have long loved the exquisite Michelin starred Yauatcha, the excellent value noodle bar Cha Cha Moon and the Hakkasan Group in general.

When I leant that the group, headed by Chef Tong Chee Hwee, were set to open the slick, sleek and chic HKK to serve contemporary Cantonese cuisine using tradition fused with modern techniques and prime ingredients, my interest was naturally a little more than piqued.

When Andy Hayler wrote, “HKK is now not only clearly the best Chinese restaurant in London, but based on this meal it is one of the very best in the world.” I made a booking for my birthday.

The food was indeed exemplary – I will watch with eagerness when the Michelin guide is published later in the year as, in my opinion, the food was comfortably on a par with that served at two star places I have eaten. The abalone dish was heavenly.

I also enjoyed the non-alcoholic ‘Orchard Flight’ drink pairing. Which, as someone who drinks very little, I found to be a splendid idea, stunningly executed.

Bai hua prawn
1724 Tonic water, saffron & grapefruit zest

Cold jumbo crab

Cherry wood roasted Peking duck
Grapefruit, red pepper, peach & elderflower

Poulet de Bresse & ginseng soup with silken bean curd

Dim sum trilogy:
Lobster & Caviar / Ibérico & Mooli / Chicken & Celery

Lobster in egg white with organic natural yoghurt

Monk fish pan-mee in Italian truffle sauce
White grapes, prunes, apple, cloves & homemade spice syrup

Sesame roll, crispy goji berry cake served with Rou Gui Oolong

Gai-lan, shimeji mushroom & lily bulb in XO sauce
'Toban' (the ceramic dish) of Rhug Farm organic pork belly
Honeydew melon, celery & ginger

Australian green abalone in Royal sauce
Tamarillo, basil, cinnamon, pineapple & saffron

Jasmine tea soaked Wagyu beef with water chestnut

Mandarin jelly with pandan sorbet & jasmine meringue
Pineapple fritter, salted lime jelly, vanilla ice cream
Selection of petit fours
Ginger, papaya, apple & eucalyptus

1980 Puer-Tuo-Cha 

1 comment:

  1. That looks bloody wonderful.....and so much food there.Thats my idea of a perfect asian meal , so many beautiful dishes.


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