“I love brunch, Steve. I love everything about it. I love drinking too much, blowing off my afternoon plans, sleeping, waking up disoriented…” – Roger Smith, American Dad
Throughout the week, my morning soy latte is generally enough to carry me through until lunch time. As much as I would like to say I am, I am not a breakfast person. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a perfectly poached egg, crispy bacon and creamy slivers of avocado on toast – it is just that during the working week, I don’t feel I have the time to enjoy it. And then what is the point? Food for me has always first and foremost been about pleasure. And there is nothing pleasurable about sitting at your desk shovelling porridge into your mouth with one hand and desperately trying to keep on top of emails with the other.
Weekends are a whole other story. A weekend without a full breakfast sitting can hardly be called a weekend at all – and the same goes for holidays. However, the one breakfast-related thing I love above all else is Sunday brunch. It offers a wonderfully valid excuse to crack open the champagne early and also provides a fun-filled afternoon-turned-evening activity that can be implemented with very little thought.
And so it was with great happiness that I discovered Hakkasan serve up a dim sum set menu each Sunday that combines my two favourite things: brunch…and dumplings.
A very reasonable £58 per person affords each diner six sharing courses, a cocktail to start, half a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne and a digestive cocktail to finish. Sold! The Influencer and I skipped down to the original Hakkasan at Hanway Place a couple of Sundays back for a little pre-Christmas merriment.
The stylish basement interior of Hakkasan is beautiful, with the space divided by intricately carved screens and latticing constructed out of dark English oak. We immediately made our way through to the impressively stocked bar that dominates the rear end of the dining area. Lined with blue back-lit panels, it casts an alluring glow across the restaurant and we happily perched up on two of the high-backed stools at the counter and began our festivities with a glass of champagne.
We were guided through to our table and eased ourselves into the meal with an aperitif. The cocktail list is limited on the brunch menu, but is inclusive of an array of autumnal ingredients that reflect the current season. I eventually settled on the seemingly iridescent Meishan Mimosa, crafted with Roederer, carrot, ginger and orange. It wasn’t particularly exciting, but it tasted healthy and its champagne base kept me on side.
First of the courses was the crispy duck salad with pomelo, pine nut and shallot, which was tossed table-side. Absolutely delicious. However, our server divided the components a little unevenly and we were left to swap differing elements across our two plates.
A bamboo basket was placed in front of us and we were presented with a variety of steamed dumplings: har gau, scallop shumai, Chinese chive dumpling and duck and yam bean dumpling. With a dip of chilli oil and a touch of soy, these were faultless in both texture and flavour.
The fried dumplings were less successful. Royal king crab truffle roll, baked venison puff, smoked duck and pumpkin puff and golden radish and crab meat pastry were all very tasty – however, these came a touch above room temperature, which was slightly off-putting. When we inquired with our waiter as to why this was, he promptly advised it was due to flavour…apparently they are far more delicious when not consumed piping hot. Be that as it may, I think I would have preferred them on the hotter side of warm, as opposed to teetering on the edge of just being cold.
Stir-fry black pepper rib-eye beef with merlot was good but not particularly noteworthy. Nevertheless, the meat was tender, well seasoned and rich in flavour.
XO seafood lettuce wrap carried a great amount of texture thanks to its snappy mix of finely diced squid, prawns and scallop, coupled with crunchy lengths of green beans and cubes of water chestnut. The XO sauce packed a generous amount of heat, to which the crisp lettuce provided a refreshingly cool foil.
The surprising star of the main dishes was the accompanying seasonal vegetable, which came in the form of asparagus. Vibrant, fresh and full of crunch, we fought for every last stem.
Fragrant ginger and spring onion fried rice was served alongside the main dishes. It was a nice change from regular steamed rice and became a handy vehicle for soaking up all those tasty sauces.
Ending on a sweet note, both The Influencer and I opted for the apple tatin, which consisted of fine pastry layered with thin slivers of perfectly caramelised apple, served with a smooth vanilla ice cream. As I am one for consistency, I will again pronounce I do not carry a penchant for desserts…but safe to say that this was really lovely.
To wrap everything up, we each sipped on a Fitzrovia Plum with Suntory Hakushu 12 year old whisky, plum sake, limoncello, gingerbread and burlesque bitters. Definitely my favourite of the cocktails we sampled.
Service was on point from start to finish. Courses were well timed, the table was never crowded, there remained to be a good amount of time between each of the dishes and we were certainly never left thirsty. Whilst not every dish knocked the ball out of the park, overall the food was very good. Furthermore, value can hardly be denied – we left happily full and a little bit giggly from all the champagne.
My discovery of Dim Sum Sunday has only worsened my tendency to base an entire weekend around brunch. But at the end of the day, that’s what weekends (my weekends, anyway) are for – something a little bit special to distinguish the pleasure of downtime from an average working week. I now know I can count on Hakkasan to bring that to me…and that can only be a good thing, right?
Hakkasan Hanway Place
8 Hanway Place
London, W1T 1HD
T: +44 (0)20 7927 7000
8 Hanway Place
London, W1T 1HD
T: +44 (0)20 7927 7000