Presided over by the executive chef of the usually good (but always pricey) Hakkasan group, a business-friendly City-fringe restaurant offering prettified, notionally Cantonese dishes – some of very high quality – in a Western ‘dégustation’ format.
We can’t say we went to HKK with the highest hopes. It’s owned by the Hakkasan people, whose most recent London venture, Chrysan, struck us as a disaster, and an expensive one too. To depress expectations further, HKK is carved out of that very same just-north-of-the-City site, as if it got stuck with the bits of the plan Chrysan couldn’t see any use for.
The HKK room itself is small and rather square, and decorated, as a fellow luncher observed, ‘like Stuttgart airport’s executive lounge 20 years ago’, but it is enlivened – as, to be fair, is also the case at Chrysan – by friendly and rather earnest staff. The prices are also in line with the distinctly elevated ones next door. Not much hope of economising by what you choose, either: the only ‘choice’ for dinner is whether you want eight courses or 15. (At lunchtime, you can also have a mere snack of five.)
Like Chrysan, HKK specialises in jewel-like presentation of its dishes, but here the task is in the charge of Tong Chee Hwee – 15 years with Hakkasan, and now executive chef of the entire group. Some of his dishes here are very good indeed. That’s not to say that all are sure-fire hits, but the dim sum (a selection of three) are probably as good as you will ever sample. Other highlights included steamed razor clam with chilli, served with glutinous rice (a real hit), and the selection of not-especially-oriental puddings – they came in two services, but we wouldn’t have minded a couple more. Perhaps the weakest link was a truly tiny plate of duck – cut from a whole bird in front of you! – which comes complete with irritating instructions as to how you are supposed to eat it. This is one of those dishes, surely, where the classical service can’t be beat?
So, a good experience, all-in-all, if one best enjoyed on someone else’s expenses.