June 24, 2015

Zero expectations = no disappointment

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It's the first day of the conference, and my friendly neighborhood prime broker organized a dinner at Hakkasan.  I secretly chuckled when I first heard about the choice of venue, because when I took some Taiwanese clients on my only visit to the London original 10 years ago, I dismissed it as a place serving Chinese food that appealed to foreigners.  But I guess given the make up of the conference attendees, and the fact that it's in a historic building on the Bund, made it a natural choice for an event like this.  And hey, who am I to complain when someone else is footing the bill for dinner?  Just shut up and eat...

Our hosts have arranged a set menu for us, which seemed to draw heavily from the restaurant's "Taste of Hakkasan" menu - no doubt kind of a "greatest hits" selection.  So I guess it's fair to judge their food based on this selection then...

Deep fried squid salt and pepper (椒盐鲜鱿) - can't go too wrong with this stuff.  Deep-fried food FTW!

Dim sum platter (四式点心拼) - with four different bites: scallop siew mai, chive dumpling, har gau, and roast duck mushroom.

Crispy duck salad (沙律香酥鸭) - with pine nuts, alfalfa sprouts, and grapefruit pulp.

Crispy prawn with chili and spices (辣子琵琶虾) - flattened, dry and slightly chewy.

Roasted silver cod in Champagne and honey sauce (香槟焗黑鳕鱼) - the sauce was pretty bland.

Roasted chicken in sesame BBQ sauce (赤麻酱吊烧鸡) - sauce was spicy and a little salty.

Stir-fry seasonal greens (时日蔬菜) - classic Shanghainese baby bok choy (小白菜) with some deep-fried garlic on top.

Sautéed Angus striploin with black pepper and merlot juice (蒜子黑椒牛仔粒)

Fried rice with corn and Chinese pickles (榄菜玉米炒饭) - I wished they had added a little more preserved black olive mustard (欖菜), because this was pretty bland.

Five spice caramel apple (香料焦糖苹果) - this was kinda interesting, with the apple coming in many thin layers.

The food was, as I expected, totally forgettable.  It wasn't BAD food, but just absolutely nothing to write home about.  The fact that this was No. 46 on Asia's 50 Best... was kinda like that year when the London original was ranked No. 19 on the World's 50 Best.  Basically, WTF.  Have the other decent restaurants in Asia all closed?  Has anyone ever been to a decent Chinese restaurant?!  I guess we know the answer to that one...

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