Tuesday 24 August 2010

Hakkasan: Stunning GF modern Chinese cuisine

I'm not sure about you, but I've avoided Chinese food completely since becoming gluten free. There's always the fear of soy sauce lurking around every corner, and indeed, in every dish.

A solution - and an absolutely fabulous, Michelin-starred solution at that - the exquisite, delicious, and gluten-free friendly Hakkasan.

Yes, this is not one for a weekly visit, it's very pricey, but oh my oh my is it worth it for a special occasion.

The staff are so knowledgeable that the fear of being poisoned, the need to ask annoying questions and to be on guard at all times completely disappears and I was happy to be coddled in their safe GF arms.

They have a separate gluten free menu which neatly outlines what you can have (and to keep as many options as possible some are with slight modifications - e.g. "without sauce". Which in my opinion is the best way to do it. There's nothing more frustrating than no one considering that yes, you can have that salad, just without the breadstick? Duh? )

I went for fried. Golden fried soft shell crab with red chilli and curry leaf, to be precise. I mean, we all know that the opportunities for us to get our gluten free mitts on something fried are few and far between, and I thoroughly intended on taking full advantage of the situation. Not least because it was my birthday, and my dear sister was treating me. Ahem.

Needless to say, it was utterly stunning and my jaw near dropped to the floor, before moving back up again to hastily munch down the rest of the dish. It was full of flavour and overall simply divine.

At this point the lovely waitress put down three sauces and kindly pointed out which ones were gluten free, and which ones off limits. Also worth a mention, for my sister who is vegetarian, the waitress pointed out that one sauce had a small amount of shrimp paste in so wouldn't be suitable for her. Thoughtful, no?

My main course was the spicy prawn with lily bulb and almond (never tried lily bulb before! It's somewhere between a water chestnut and a bamboo shoot. Tasty). Hubbada hubbada. Giant juicy butterflied prawns on an almost curry like sauce. With some simple rice and baby pak choi, it was heavenly. Sweet, tangy and rich all at the same time. Drool.

Oh, and apologies for not setting the scene earlier - the dining room is stunning with its carved black partitions and perfectly dim lighting and soft air conditioning with some sort of delicious smell wafting from somewhere at all times. Tranquil and elegant.

With all of this being washed down with a Saketini or two, well I must say, I was a thoroughly happy, stuffed, birthday girl.

UPDATE: There are now two branches of Hakkasan. I went to the Hanway Place restaurant. I have heard bad things about the Mayfair restaurant, see comments below. I have been to Hanway place three times and had a consistently good service. Please do call before you go to make sure they have the extensive gluten free menu (also posted in the comments). I do not recommend Mayfair!