Hakkasan Mayfair is very carefully designed, from its precise lighting (overall low and moody, yet with the tables illuminated well) to its comfortable seating. Despite handling a huge number of covers the tables are just far enough apart to avoid feeling that you are intruding on your neighbour’s conversation. That would anyhow be tricky because the noise levels are high, and didn’t need added music – my mobile phone app showed a hefty 85 decibels at our table.
A dim sum platter was excellent, the dumplings having lovely texture, the fillings of high quality. Scallop shumai had sweet shellfish, Chinese chive dumpling good herb flavour, duck and yam bean dumpling a pleasing richness, and the classic har gau prawn dumpling had silky texture (easily 15/20). Morel and vegetable spring rolls had light, greaseless coatings and plenty of mushroom flavour (15/20).
Steamed langoustine wrapped in glass vermicelli noodles with a chill and garlic sauce was a particularly impressive dish. The shellfish had excellent flavour and were tender, the noodles superb, the sauce having a genuine spicy kick but not so much as to distract from the langoustine (easily 16/20). Spicy prawn with lily bulb and almond had carefully cooked shellfish and a mildly curried sauce (15/20). Singapore noodles were superbly light, their velvety texture a far cry from the dry, hard versions that are all too often encountered in Chinese restaurants (easily 16/20).
The service tonight was dazzlingly good. In a completely packed restaurant we might as well have been the only diners, as the various waiters expertly carried out their jobs like cogs in a finely tuned machine. The order was taken efficiently, drinks were replaced quickly, dishes arrived a steady but not rushed pace. On the occasions I started to think about dishing out some more rice from the central dish a waitress anticipated this and offered to do so. Don’t get me wrong – I am entirely happy to serve my own rice, but I am simply amazed that the staff could be so well attuned to the rhythm of the meal that they could time such an offer so perfectly. This all happened in a room where every single table was taken, and the tables to either side of us were turned within moments. At the end of the evening I discovered that the restaurant would serve 500 diners this evening, yet I have seen less slick service in multi-starred dining rooms serving a tenth of this customer volume. The bill came to £102 a head with drinks. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head might be around £85. Overall Hakkasan continues to impress me with its consistency and its silky smooth service, despite its vast scale.