x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hakkasan turns up heat on The Ivy

Hakkasan, owned by Abu Dhabi's Tasameem, plans to launch a Dubai restaurant under the trendy Chinese restaurant brand in November.

Lee Koh Hua, the chef de cuisine for Hakkasan's restaurant at the Emirates Palace, and his kitchen staff prepare food for guests. Jaime Puebla / The National
Lee Koh Hua, the chef de cuisine for Hakkasan's restaurant at the Emirates Palace, and his kitchen staff prepare food for guests. Jaime Puebla / The National

Hakkasan, the upmarket Chinese restaurant brand owned by the Abu Dhabi company Tasameem, plans to open an outlet in Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai in November.

It will join another popular London restaurant brand, The Ivy, which is opening a branch there over the summer.

It will be Hakkasan's second branch in the UAE, with the first opening in the Emirates Palace in the capital a year ago. Hakkasan's Michelin-starred flagship restaurant is in London's West End.

"I think we wanted to establish ourselves in Abu Dhabi first, partly because our owner is in Abu Dhabi," said Niall Howard, the chief executive of Hakkasan. "That was the priority, but we always had eyes on Dubai, and really it took us this time to find a suitable site."

Tasameem bought its shares in the Hakkasan Group in 2007 from Alan Yau, the Hong Kong restaurateur who also founded the Wagamama chain.

Its Dubai restaurant will be wholly owned by Hakkasan, involving an investment of "millions of dollars", Mr Howard said, declining to provide a specific figure.

The restaurant is taking on 150 staff. All of its chefs must be Chinese.

The company has further expansion plans in the region.

"We have taken offices in Dubai for our expansion plans and we have a managing director now based in Dubai," Mr Howard said.

"We may not open too many Hakkasans in the region because we don't want to dilute the brand," Mr Howard said.

"But having said that, we will end up with several, and we're looking at locations such as Bahrain, Doha and, slightly further afield, Beirut."

He said the company also planned to open a restaurant in Mumbai in the coming weeks.

The Hakkasan group also owns Yauatcha, a Michelin-starred London dim sum restaurant, which it wants to expand through the region.

"We're quite happy to roll out a number and we'll be starting that this year," Mr Howard said. "We're actively looking for a site in Dubai and we have a site in Abu Dhabi."

He said the Abu Dhabi Yauatcha was not likely to open before the end of this year.

Hakkasan also has a restaurant in the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami.

rbundhun@thenational.ae