One thing we utterly failed at while in Shanghai, is trying authentic local food. You know, those mom and pop dumpling shops, market eats, and late-night whole-in-the-wall spots that cook up a storm. Thankfully, we made up for it in Beijing, but one place we did go to in Shanghai was Hakkasan. While I do realize it is not “the” authentic Chinese cuisine to try, we quite loved this upscale and contemporary version. I’ve heard so much about Hakkasan Group and their outstanding food in London restaurants, so to say I was curious to finally sample it myself would be a huge understatement.
The atmosphere in Hakkasan is superb. Located on level 5 of Bund 18, in the same building as Mr and Mrs Bund, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, and Bar Rouge, restaurant features contemporary décor fusing dark wood lattices and leather banquettes with moody lighting. A front dining area and the bar afford spectacular views of The Bund and the upbeat music create a buzzy ambiance.
Like many other restaurants, Hakkasan offers a special weekend lunch menu, Hakka Bund Weekend, which turned out to be a great deal considering the amount and quality of food. The classic menu includes a choice of dim sum platter, a pot of tea and a mocktail (our preferred choice since we had a full afternoon of exploring ahead of us and didn’t want to get too boozy). More elaborate options – Signature and Royal – include luxurious alcoholic cocktails and a glass/free flow of Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV Champagne respectively.
Both the appetizers and main courses we tried were full on flavor, and incredibly delicious. The dim sum plates were exquisite. The fried and baked dim sum – BBQ pork, black pepper venison, and abalone and matsutake puffs – were my perennial favorite. The dough was so flaky with that addictive buttery taste that teases your senses while the feeling was savory and flavorful. If we didn’t have other courses coming I would have reordered these in a heartbeat. We also sampled classic dim sum – har gau, scallop siew mai, crab and chive dumpling. The delicate morsels were all very well cooked and pleasant in texture, although flavor-wise not as memorable as the ones we tried in 2* Tin Lung Heen, Hong Kong.
For our next course, Justin opted for a regular salad, while I chose a signature crispy duck salad. We shared both dishes and agreed that my choice was hands down the best. Salad had delicious dressing and crispy caramelized duck bits hidden underneath were so addictive and succulent.
For the main course, we ordered a perfectly cooked shrimp, generously covered with scrumptious curry sauce. The latter coupled so well with the classic jasmine rice served on the side. I also stole bites from Justin’s Stir-fry Australian Angus rib eye (M3). The meat was tender and had that mouthwatering smoky flavor and char. We also tried Stir-fry lotus root, asparagus and lily bulb. Vegetables were cooked wonderfully and I enjoyed the crunchy texture a lot.
All this was washed down by my mocktail, Kowloon Cooler: Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lychee, apple and cranberry juice and lemonade. Yup, as good as it sounds!
We gladly moved on to dessert accompanied by a pot of hot Jasmine tea (my favorite!). My beautiful platter was Coconut semifreddo lime curd, coconut sorbet in the shape of a coconut! It was delightful and so refreshing. Ideal for the hot summer day. Justin’s seemed to equally enjoy his Lemon Pot – lemon curd, lemon mousse, meringue –although I never got to try it.
Overall, our first meal at Hakkasan passed the test with flying colors and I will make sure to visit its restaurant in Miami for dinner when I’m back home!
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