Simon Gage: What a weird place for a smart restaurant! In a back alley round the back from another back alley. It’s the kind of place you bump into people prising the security tags of stuff they’ve lifted from Primark.
Stephen Unwin: I’ve not been here since 1973.
Simon: You weren’t born in 1973.
Simon: Thanks for noticing.
Karen Krizanovich: When was the last time you were here? I lived round the corner with my husband until he changed the locks. I’d forgotten how deep this place is. I mean, like, I could be at Goodge Street station for the depth. No phone service. Yipes.
I read somewhere – in one of those “My (insert name of city you’re promoting your shit in)” pieces – that Kim Kardashian loves the ribs here. Which makes you think, it really does
Simon: I used to come after it just opened, back when record companies splashed money on journalists. They should think about doing that again.
Stephen: I read somewhere – in one of those “My (insert name of city you’re promoting your shit in)” pieces – that Kim Kardashian loves the ribs here. Which makes you think, it really does.
Simon: They often have limited edition seasonal menus, with an innovative cocktail list, smaller plates of Cantonese dishes, and an eclectic sun-infused soundtrack.
Stephen: This summer they had the Ling-Ling menu.
Karen: Are you reading from the press release?
Stephen: Yes, and it’s forcing me to believe it.
Simon: Limited is good. Affordable, entry-level Hakkasan for all, even those scared of fine dining and drinking…
Karen: …and depths.
Stephen: The food here is always really good, right?
Karen: Right. Just ask Kim Kardashian. Or the ribs. I gave her all my old monogrammed luggage.
Simon: And eclectic and delicious! The salt and pepper pumpkin tofu is particularly delicious.
Stephen: I get a bit twitchy if I’m given too much choice.
Karen: Scientists have proven that too much choice makes us profoundly unhappy, so just eat whatever your finger hits on the menu. See? Grilled Chilean seabass!
Stephen: The dim sum’s perfect, though I can’t quite taste the almond in the “spicy prawn with lily bulb and almond”. Or the lily bulb for that matter.
Karen: How do you know what a lily bulb tastes like?
Stephen: Don’t question me. This jasmine tea smoked pork rib is amazing, though. And I’ve just bitten a chunk out of my cheek.
Simon: That’s because you wolf down your food.
Stephen: I’m only eating one solid meal a day over summer, in case I have to appear naked at short notice. So I get a bit excited.
Talking of naked, doesn’t Hakkasan have a new place in Mykonos?
Karen: Talking of naked, doesn’t Hakkasan have a new place in Mykonos? Not that I’d know.
Stephen: Nice segue. And yes it is, according to this press release it is Hakkasan’s new concept, “drinking to dining to dancing”.
Simon: Does that only happen in Mykonos?
Karen: Well you’d know, seeing as you’re there at least twice a year, clothed or not.
Stephen: Usually naked. And I can vouch for at least two of those Ds.
Simon: There used to be, until very recently, a Nobu at the Belvedere hotel so I guess there is a gap in the market. But I do worry about the Ibiza “Yummy Mummies on E crowd” ruining the loveliness of Mykonos.
Stephen: Yeah, there was a piece in the Evening Standard magazine proclaiming Mykonos as “the new Ibiza” alongside patronizing copy about people with triple-barrelled first names going to gay bars because they’re, and I quote, “such fun”.
Karen: Eugh. They’ll get bored soon enough. What do you think of the décor in here by the way, after all this time?
Stephen: It’s dark and sexy, which I hear equals glamour.
Simon: It’s quite nineties, but then that’s come full circle, right? It does have a “power lunch” air to it.
Stephen: Lots of women with important hair in pencil skirts.
Simon: It’s definitely somewhere to come and show off, but you can still get a level of intimacy if you get one of the booths.
Stephen: Do you think we’ll ever tire of booths?
Karen: Are we talking about Mykonos again?
Karen: It’s still got the Hakkasan vibe – incense, public school blokes in colourful trews and exotic families – but it still seems like a big fat secret. Good wine list if you fancy, but for that you don’t come here poor. It is a little bit like a ride back to the 90s but that was a good time, wasn’t it? Marks for consistency, flair and knowing what inebriates crave most.
Simon: The vegetarian things on the menu are great in that it’s not the same old stuff. Because I’ve had “the same old stuff” up to here. Up to even higher than here, in fact. The cocktails are a bit like something you might get in a fishbowl on a strip somewhere fat drunken girls are falling over. But that aside, it’s smart.
Stephen: You’re definitely buying into a brand with Hakkasan – blingy and sexy, if not necessarily romantic. It’s somewhere you come with friends to drink and eat lots then go on dancing, whether it’s the West End or Mykonos. And the food is consistently good. And when in doubt, ribs.
Hakkasan, 8 Hanway Place, London W1T 1HD UK
020-7927 7000; hakkasan.com