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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 March 2019

How Hakkasan Dubai stays ahead of the culinary curve

The restaurant's relocation to Atlantis, The Palm, has brought about some other changes, too

Hakkasan Dubai at Atlantis, The Palm has introduced a Friday brunch serving favourites such as its dim sum platter in petite portions. Courtesy Hakkasan Dubai
Hakkasan Dubai at Atlantis, The Palm has introduced a Friday brunch serving favourites such as its dim sum platter in petite portions. Courtesy Hakkasan Dubai

Within Dubai’s ever-shifting dining scene, there are a few big-name restaurants that have remained a constant for foodies. Hakkasan Dubai may have caused a stir when it closed its Jumeirah Emirates Towers outpost last year, but the world-famous Cantonese restaurant was back up and running merely three months later, only it now had a new home at Atlantis, The Palm.

The “new” Hakkasan manages to be at once different and the same, which may be the key to its success. Its ­familiar decor – the dark wooden ­panelling and intimately arranged ­seating – is still around, as are many of its signature dishes. However, ­Hakkasan has used its new Dubai chapter to breathe a renewed lease of life into its 12 restaurants around the world, as the brand joins a rapidly growing movement towards a more sustainable future.

“The market is changing; there is now more of a sense of responsibility towards nature,” says Rupesh Shetty, restaurant manager at Hakkasan Dubai. “We have taken a new look at the menu to make sure we are using more sustainable products, because that is the direction Hakkasan as a brand is moving towards, and we in Dubai are very much a part of that.”

A move towards sustainability

Hakkasan has vowed to ensure its fish is sourced responsibly, to use local produce ­wherever possible, to reuse and recycle in a bid to reduce food waste, and to take steps towards removing single-use plastics from all of its restaurants. The first of these new, eco-conscious dishes to hit the menu is wok-seared spotted sea bass with ginger soya – the star of the sustainable show. As the menu explains, the sea bass is “raised in pristine lagoons in Mauritius, and sustainably farmed using organic methods that respect the life cycle of the fish”.

The Osmanthus Wagyu beef rib eye is an exclusive dish is a signature dish of chef Andy Toh.
Osmanthus Wagyu beef rib eye is a signature dish of chef Andy Toh.

A lighter, healthier menu is another way in which the restaurant is catering to the changing needs of its customers. “What we have done is made our dishes much lighter; we want it to be a meal where you can go out and party afterwards. We want people to leave feeling full, but without that heavy feeling that comes with overindulgence,” explains Shetty. “The market has become very health-conscious and heavy with dietary requirements, so we have come up with a menu that caters to everyone – if you are gluten-free, nut-free, vegan or vegetarian, we have something to offer.”

A new brunch

In true Dubai style, brunch is now part of Hakkasan’s ­culinary portfolio, which also extends to ­limited-time dishes for festivities such as Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and Christmas, and even set menus for iftar during Ramadan. Since its launch on January 25, the sophisticated and sociable Friday brunch has been attracting groups of friends and families who want to sample the restaurant’s award-winning food in a more chilled-out environment.

Hakkasan's signature Dim Sum platter. Hakkasan Dubai
Hakkasan's popular dim sum platter

“Everything comes in a petite portion, so you can taste as many of our dishes as possible,” says Shetty. “And we bring the food to the table, so guests don’t need to move around. At many brunches, you are up looking for the food, rather than sitting and chatting, but here you can enjoy the company.”

The new location

Relocating to the Palm has also brought with it a whole new crowd to cater to, with executive chef Andy Toh deeming the area “the place to be in Dubai”. It’s a sentiment echoed by many, given the recent spate of new hotels and restaurants in the area, many helmed by the world’s most famous chefs – think Massimo Bottura’s Torno Subito, Alain Ducasse’s Mix Dubai, Chris ­Jaeckle’s All’Onda and Mathieu ­Viannay’s Rue Royale. Within the Atlantis itself, ­Hakkasan is nestled alongside the likes of chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Giorgio Locatelli’s eponymous restaurants, Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen and Gregoire Berger’s Ossiano.

Hakkasan Middle East executive chef Andy Toh Chye Siong (Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National) 
Hakkasan Middle East executive chef Andy Toh Chye Siong (Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National) 

Shetty deems these gastronomic heavyweights as welcome neighbours. “Atlantis, The Palm has become a culinary destination – you don’t have to go anywhere else. We don’t see it as competition, only as a compliment. And we also complement each other.”

But as happy as Hakkasan is in its new home, it shouldn’t get too comfortable. “We are staying – for the time being,” says Shetty, without confirming how long that may be. Despite his insistence on remaining tight-lipped, Hakkasan’s relocation to its permanent home at the new Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, set to open further along the Palm at the end of this year, is something of an open secret. However long this second iteration of Hakkasan Dubai is around, though, its vibe, menu and approach are a perfect match for the ever-evolving emirate.

Updated: March 10, 2019 01:48 PM

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