Iftar review: Try nutritious and delicious bites at Hakkasan
The Cantonese restaurant serves a range of dim sum, four mains and its signature Peking duck
Cantonese favourite Hakkasan is hosting a four-course iftar at its Abu Dhabi venue at Emirates Palace and new Dubai branch in Atlantis, The Palm. This includes a soup, two starters, four mains and a vanilla dates ice cream for dessert, preceded by dates, laban and a small selection of Arabic sweets.
Where to sit and what to expect
Walking along Emirates Palace’s colossal marbled corridor, you might almost miss the subtle right and narrow doorframe that lead into the restaurant. Once inside, though, there’s no mistaking Hakkasan’s cavernous decor, all dark wood panelling and porthole-like windows looking into the intimately lit main dining room.
Plush couches and chairs wrap around the tables that are well spaced out and cast with a warm yellow glow from individual hanging lamps, which illuminates the food, but not the diners. Based on the size of your party, you can sit in any one of the nooks segregated by wood-latticed frames, or on the terrace that benefits from air coolers and low lighting.
Most other set menus crafted by fine-dining restaurants this Ramadan require diners to choose from one main course. However, Hakkasan serves all the four mains listed on its iftar menu. These come as sharing portions for two, which is also the minimum number of people needed to reserve a spot at this iftar.
Before that, though, sip on individual portions of the Chinese wild mushroom soup, a clear broth made from chicken stock that’s chock-full of button and shiitake mushrooms, goji berries, carrot and bamboo pith. Watch out for the chunk of ginger if, like me, you don’t fancy chomping down directly on it.
Move on to the small eats, which include Hakkasan’s signature Peking duck with plummy hoisin sauce. The eight palm-sized pancakes are just big enough to include one cut of shredded duck meat, crisp on the outside, moist within, and a few slivers of crunchy cucumber and spring onion. At four apiece, my dining partner and I were satiated but not overstuffed, and next dug into the chef’s colourful selection of dim sum.
This includes one each of the lobster dumpling (the succulent meat is packed into a bright pink casing garnished with edible gold leaf, and has a hint of wasabi); a shui mai (classic flavours of minced chicken and prawn with an abalone twist); and a wild mushroom dumpling (in a purplish casing and peppery in texture). Based on taste alone, a couple more dim sum wouldn’t go amiss here, but there are four main courses coming up next.
The mains tick the carb, protein and fibre boxes with their selection of edamame egg fried rice, fish in assam curry, wok-fried beef in garlic vinegar and a plate of stir-fry veggies. The spotted bass is spicy with hints of lime leaf and lemongrass, while the tender rib-eye (served in a taro’s-nest-shaped wheatflour pancake) ticks that distinctly Cantonese combination of sweet and sour.
Astoundingly, it’s the stir-fry vegetable platter I find myself making enormous dents in. The snow peas, carrots, bell peppers, mushroom and asparagus are simply bursting with freshness, and infused with a delicious creamy garlic glaze. The crunchiness of the veggies is offset by gummy ginko nuts packed with umami flavours.
The one disappointment is the rice. While the edamame is a nice touch, I expected this to be Hakkasan’s sticky, flavoursome iteration, but instead it’s dry and rubbery. Pouring as much of the assam curry as you can over the rice comes highly recommended.
A chat with the chef
Chef Lee Kok Hua from Malaysia has worked at Hakksan Abu Dhabi since 2010, before which he was at the London branch for seven years. “A lot of consideration and care went into designing the iftar menu, ensuring all the necessary vitamins and nutrients are included,” he says.
“To give an example, the soup with supreme fungus and bamboo pith contains vitamin B and D, and Chinese wild mushrooms improve energy levels, brain function and supports the immune system. Or, if we look at the vanilla dates ice cream from our dessert selection, it is prepared in-house from locally sourced fresh dates, which are high in antioxidants and effective in regulating blood sugar levels. We also take great care to ensure the dishes are not fried, keeping them light and easy to digest.”
Value for money and contact information
At Dh228 (Abu Dhabi) and Dh288 (Dubai) per person, the Hakkasan iftar is in the same range as its fine-dining peers – think Coya and La Petite Maison – but offers the highest value for money per dish compared to the prices on its a la carte menu. Sure, the portions are smaller, but at Dh60 each for the soup and rice, more than Dh200 each for the fish and beef, and a whopping Dh998 for the Peking duck, this sample-sized menu allows you to taste the best of Hakkasan at a fraction of the price and without overstuffing yourself.
Call Hakkasan Abu Dhabi on 02 690 7999 and Hakkasan Dubai on 04 426 2626.
This iftar was reviewed at the invitation of the restaurant
Updated: May 12, 2019 12:10 PM