I was born in the year of the Monkey, so what better way to celebrate this Chinese New Year than enjoying an eight-course meal in the City’s HKK?
In between the City of London and Shoreditch, HKK is an incredibly classy Chinese restaurant with attentive staff and a striking setting. Whether you’re in for a meeting or a date, a dinner in HKK’s dim-lit dining hall will sure impress your guests.
Running until the 20th of February, the tasting menu created by Hakkasan and HKK’s Executive Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee features eight exquisite courses followed by a petits fours Tray of Togetherness, accompanied by a matching beverage flight, for the cost £88. We chose a delicious red from Turkey, the 2013 Kalecik Karası, which matched perfectly with the whole menu.
Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration in the Chinese calendar and the family dinner plays a pivotal role in the festivities with numerous traditions taking place at the dinner table. What’s great about HKK’s CNY meal isn’t just the incredible choice of food – it’s also that guests are let in on the tradition, encouraged by the staff and the chef to observe them. In fact, at HKK the chefs come carve the meat right in front of you and shake your hand, for a truly unforgettable, traditional and nearly family-like dinner experience.
The menu at HKK begins with a prosperity salad, featuring crispy salmon skin and plum sauce alongside dry oyster rolls with black moss and barbecue pork belly. The Chinese ritual involves the entire family using chopsticks to toss the salad together as high as possible, wishing for wellbeing and success for the year ahead.
The menu also features two soups, presented in one dish shaped as the Yin and Yang symbol. Yin and Yang represents the necessity for an equal amount of both Yin and Yang to be present for complete balance. In this case, the balance is the result of a supreme crab meat and kumquat soup and vegetarian shark fin soup.
The third dish in the menu follows the Chinese tradition of eating dumplings for New Year, which is said to bring good luck. HKK’s dumpling trilogy is a wonderful blend of sweet and sour, fruit and meat, blending orange and green apple with fried goodness.
The fourth dish was the traditional roasted cherry wood Pecking duck, associated with royalty and grandeur. HKK serves both the tender and the crispy parts of the duck in a salad and in a delicious wrap, carved right in front of you by one of the chefs.
Next up were the lobster noodles, which represent unity and longevity respectively. Fresh and indulgent, these noodles are a different take on the lobster fests on offer at the moment. The next dish was a sweet and sour sticky lamb, Arabic in origin and synonym of a “higher”, therefore lucky year.
As if all this weren’t enough, the menu included three different desserts. The first one, the vanilla and mandarin sweet dumplings, represent family unity and union and tasted like a fresher, lighter version of a white chocolate ice cream.
The green apple cardamom crisp noodle was up next, tangy and fresh, perfect to cleanse the palate after all the different flavours of the night.
The menu culminated with a Tray of Togetherness, a dish filled with sweet treats and offered to guests throughout Chinese New Year with the aim of giving them a successful and prosperous start to the new year. The tray contains eight different sweets, as eight is a lucky number in China. Inspired by Chinese ingredients, they include Jasmine tea shortbread, five spice financiers and orange jellies.
It would be hard to pick a favourite out of all these incredible dishes, but one thing is certain: the year of the Monkey started with a bang at HKK London.
Pictures: Carolina Are, HKK London
88 Worship Street