In Review: The 15-course tasting menu at HKK, London

hkk london
I wasn’t expecting to discover my all-time favourite beef dish at a Chinese restaurant, but it happened. It happened at HKK.

At the helm, Michelin-starred Chef Tong Chee Hwee has turned the Hakkasan Group’s abbreviated sibling into a banquet-style celebration of Cantonese cuisine. While HKK does offer a la carte options, the tasting menus are the restaurant’s pride and glory.

Two SLR-strapped women and a 15-course tasting menu each? It had to be done.

Knowing we’d have to table our cocktail habit to make our way through all fifteen dishes, we decided to kick things off with the horrifically named (but truly scrumptious) ‘Washing Potatoes’ – a zesty blend of kiwi, ginger, coriander, lychee and apple juice – before sticking to some good ol’ H20.

Now, the feast.

Priced at ¬£98 per head, I had very high expectations of the tasting menu but was blown away by the delivery of each course. Every bite is a careful and intricate selection of flavours and textures that far exceeds all preconceived ideas of ‘Chinese food’.

Verbally, the introduction to the 15-course tasting menu reads a bit like heaven: whelk salad with Shaoxing wine jelly, then roasted Poulet de Bresse, foie gras and mandarin confit, the ‘HKK supreme’ seafood soup (a truffle-infused life changer), cherry wood roasted Peking duck (hand-carved tender flesh, crispy skin, and a moreish blend of salad and pancake), a dim sum trilogy (some of the best in London, served with a paintbrush to ‘paint’ your soy sauce onto each ball), chargrilled quail and Mui Choi rice, then a light sugar snap, lotus root and water chestnut salad.

Seven down, eight to go.

Before moving on to Number Eight, HKK pause to serve a Da Hong Pao tea ceremony and light palate-cleansers. As China is currently celebrating its mid-Autumn festival, Chef Tong Chee Hwee has specially created two exquisite moon cakes – a sweet moon cake with a lotus seed and red date enveloped by delicate pastry and a savoury and sweet snow-skin moon cake with a nutty, lotus seed centre – to be served with the ceremony until September 13th.

After nibbles, sips, and the feeling that The Force might indeed Be With Us, we pushed through to the next stage of the tasting menu.

For the ‘mains’, we were presented with an incredible plate of grilled New Zealand scampi in truffle miso sauce, Hong Kong style steamed lotus leaf halibut, seared Wagyu beef with Enoki mushrooms (absolutely, definitely the best beef dish I’ve had anywhere, ever), and Chinese-spiced Rhug Farm organic lamb. Almost definitively, each course was a gastronomic work of art.

Unable to retrain ourselves from leaving a single morsel behind over two hours, we were feeling 100 types of exhausted by the time we reached dessert. Alas, beautiful layers of strawberry, verbena cream and almond brittle still preceded a raspberry and dark chocolate delice with cocoa nibs and, dutifully, we attempted to fork our way through to the very end.

Staring (defeated) at our selection of petits fours, we took a second to reflect on the meal and go through my standard review of noteworthy positives and negatives (aka The ‘Is It Blog-worthy? Test’).

There were no negatives. Not a single one. HKK’s food, service, and atmosphere is immaculate. To be quite honest, I might consider moving within walking distance.


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What I Wore – Bleu

bleu
To satiate your international appetite before I share my video postcard from Paris, I think it might be time to pause for an outfit post.

Though I’d ideally be running around patisseries in a beret and stilettos, tackling miles upon miles of city streets in under 48 hours calls for a more practical ensemble. Casual pleats, bows, and tailoring it is.

What I Wore:
Blue tie-back pleated dress from Closet via House of Fraser
My trusty handbag
Bejewelled city sandals (old, similar here)

bleu
bleu

What I Wore – Julian Hakes and Babes

julian hakes
Amidst a rough couple of weeks between eye surgeries, my sister* Tiffani finally left the US and made her way over here to join me for two weeks of adventure in Leeds, London, and Paris. Not only that, but two of my favourite Londoners hauled their lovely bums up to Leeds to share in the excitement of her first weekend; an introduction to ‘night’s out’, cathedrals, mystery games, the countryside, latte art, the Great British High Street, and more.

I am a lucky lady.

What I Wore:
Julian Hakes Mojito Shoes from Cloggs (because what better excuse to whip out the coolest shoes I’ve ever seen – plus, they’re on sale!)
Polka dot shirt dress (similar here)

(*Not by blood, but – long story short – after her family took me in and became my family so many years ago, there is no better way to describe her).

julian hakes
julian hakes
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In Review: Uni, London

uni london
Though I once considered sushi to be my ‘favourite food’, years of easily accessible lunch sushi has taken a little bit of glitter away from the Japanese speciality. When something becomes your ‘lazy lunch’ go-to, it is hard to count it as a favourite.

Thank heavens for UNI.

Though Uni can be pigeonholed into ‘sushi’ territory, it is actually a vibrant melange of Peruvian and Japanese fusion. Situated in the quiet backstreets of London Victoria (where food takes a backseat to tourism crossroads), the Andrew Martin-designed restaurant is as impressive as its interior design relations.

UNI was created by former Nobu chef Rolando Ongcoy and, in my opinion, trumps the Michelined Old Park Lane hangout on multiple levels.

First? The service. While UNI is designed to haute perfection (the bottled lightshades were a personal highlight), it is not stuffy or unfriendly. In fact, the staff deliver perfect knowledge, etiquette, and charm with each dish.

Of the dishes themselves? I’m not sure a careful compilation of words and photography could endear¬†it as well as experience. Though we started modestly with edamame and a goma-dressed Kaiso seaweed salad, every plate – from the the yellowtail tiraditos (with kizami wasabi, yuzu, and fresh mint) to the Wagyu beef (with rock salt and chilli) – was an intoxicating blend of delicate, moreish, and unusual flavours. Flavours and ingredients so fresh it had me feeling like I was in a chewing gum commercial.

For this review, I feel it would be unjust to talk you through each dish. Rather, I simply hope you visit UNI and order at least one item from each section of the menu. It’s a divine exploration that even a sushi skeptic would gush over.

(Tip: Just, you know, don’t miss out on the crispy yuca seabass ceviche with chilli, amarillo, red onion. #CANTHELPMYSELF).

With pencil skirts tightening, my companion and I chose to leave dessert for a future visit, but I imagine it won’t take much of an occasion for me to return.

uni london
uni london
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