(Slightly) hacked off at Hakkasan

I could do without the little red dresses. But I realise they aren’t for me. I’ve been to both incarnations of the uber-Chinese restaurant that is Hakkasan and without wishing to lapse into the sort of lawyerspeak that seems simply to trip off my tongue,  I make the following observations:-

– I like the whole incense-y vibe as you step in, but there are too many girls in red dresses milling around; to the point I can’t actually get into the restaurant without charging through them as if they were skittles

– if I don’t dress up (and I generally don’t) the overdone girls make me feel like a fat underdressed schlumpf. Which I can be,  but I don’t want to be reminded of it when I go out to eat.

– is this nightclub or a restaurant? I want to hear myself think please. Turn the music down.

– does it have to be so damned expensive? I note that the beef in merlot (not entirely a bargain even when it was  £16.50) simply jumped, without me noticing, to £23.50, no doubt to offset the cost of  the fit out (and the girls). And I think that’s the cheapest main on the menu

– by pricing at this level, this becomes  a special occasion destination rather than a regular haunt for most people and whilst this may be a successful strategy now (clock the clientele; menus in Russian etc) it may not be a good idea in the long run and more importantly, it stops a lot of people enjoying the food – and there is much to enjoy

-ah, the food. Very competent, interesting and with punchy  flavours. A good wine list too but they aren’t afraid of a big mark-up.   Great dim sum; special mentions for the prawns with cashew nuts and chile, simple but effective. Japanese tea smoked ribs succulent and tender; crispy soft shell crab a feast of crispy carbs. I haven’t tried some of the more stratospherically priced dishes but everything I’ve had has been well executed and presented. The quality of the cooking and its variety keeps me coming back, despite the various irritations, the most notable of which being the extraordinary pricing. And you can skip the desserts. Not notable or indeed necessary. Have another starter instead.

-I do get irritated at service being added to my bill. Here it’s – lucky for some – 13% – no doubt that is a hop skip and a jump away from their target 15% figure. It’s not that they’re not worth it, it’s just that I would quite like to decide for myself please.

I know that the discerning C will disagree with much of what I have said here, as this is his current favourite, but maybe he is a bit blinded by the whole glitzy London vibe, being a country dweller these days. Or maybe it’s just those red dresses.

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