“Do you want to go to Hakkasan for brunch?”
My husband gave me a confused look and said, “Chinese for brunch?”
Let me explain. Chinese cuisine is not our typical brunch affair. Our idea of brunch is a breakfast introduction of let’s say poached eggs or waffles, then continuing with a classic roast with potatoes, and washed down with champagne. I don’t think we’ve ever branched out of our brunch selections before so we decided to try it out.
There wasn’t much debating after that as Hakkasan is our favorite restaurant and our usual date night spot. Hakassan is the only place where Anthony and I share a number of favorites that ordering becomes more like a negotiation deal. It goes something like this: “If we are getting the crispy duck salad, dim sum platter and Jasmine tea smoked Wagyu beef ribs for appetizers, should we then get one main course or settle for two appetizers and two main courses?”
We were faced with the same dilemma come brunch time. First up, we appreciated the fact that it’s not an all you can eat buffet. The Taste of Hakkasan allows you to sample a selection of their signature dishes that includes a soup, a small meat, main and a dessert. I much prefer this concept as the food is freshly prepared and brought to your table andmakes for a better dining experience. You get to just sit down, relax, appreciate the taste of your food and enjoy people’s company.
I sunk into my chair with my sleeping baby in her stroller next to me. I immediately relaxed and took in the whole vibe of the place. The atmosphere lends itself nicely to the dining concept. The usually dark sexy interior at night becomes more subdued and relaxed during daytime. My senses and appetite were heightened without the blaring music, crowded tables, loud chatters and busy buffet line up. I was ready to sample their food and so I opened the menu.
I combed through the menu and immediately said to my husband “All our favorite dishes are on this menu”. We started negotiating. Ten minutes later, our sweet and patient waitress jotted down our order.
Almost immediately our soups arrived. Hot and sour soup with chicken for my husband and crab and sweetcorn supreme for me. My husband’s soup was quite literally hot and sour. Every slurp was met with a punch of intense sourness followed by a very distinct heat. Not the best introduction meal. I, on the other hand, was busy Snapchatting, recording Instagram stories, and taking photos to the point where the wait staff had to gently remind me that my soup was getting cold. I took my first sip and was pleasantly surprised. Crab and sweetcorn soup is normally pretty generic but this particular one was full of creamy corn flavor and subtle hints of crab. I happily finished my bowl.
Next were our favorites. Steamed dim sum platter and crispy duck roll. The different flavors, colors, shape, textures and presentation of the dim sum platter was a feast for the eyes (and Instagrammable). On the platter were scallops shumai, har gau, smoked Wagyu beed, and seebass shumai. I knew it would be a chopsticks fight when it came to this dish so I immediately took my picking and dipped it in the chili oil and soy sauce. The crispy duck roll was perfectly cut in half so there was fight there. It was enveloped by a golden crispy roll with soft, soft, soft duck meat inside that was oozing with flavor. There was no need for the hoi sin sauce for this one.
Main course followed with Wok-fry prawns in spicy Assam sauce and Mongolian style stir-fry rib eye beef. We were told that these were exclusive brunch menu items. It looked like we were on the right track. Both dishes were served with a side of seasonal vegetables and Edamame egg fried rice. The star of the whole meal was the rib eye beef. It was prepared and presented in the most simplistic way but the meat was of the highest quality, making it buttery soft. I must admit that the beef dish overshadowed the wok-fry prawn dish.
I had a glimpse of the dessert and managed to talk us out of polishing our main course to make space for sorbet and ice cream. It was the unique flavor combinations that elevated this ice cream to a whole different level. Listen up: A bowl with mandarin, lemon yogurt, blackberry-apple sorbets plus a bowl of green tea, black sesame, and chocolate ice cream. There’s no need to expand this statement, It was a pretty sweet ending.
Strong espressos arrived after and we discussed our experience. It’s a clear conclusion that we enjoyed the quality of the food but these were for the most part the same dishes served on their dinner la carte menu, with the exception of two dishes. The lack of new dishes doesn’t give much incentive for guests to choose an afternoon meal over their famous dinner set up.
Offering brunch every Saturday is a smart idea as it avoids competition with the all you can eat and drink buffet spread in other hotels. Enjoying sophisticated food in a wonderful atmosphere is a nice way to close the weekend.
Service at Hakkasan is, as always, impeccable. The food is served in no time, the staff is welcoming from the moment you enter the restaurant. The wait staff easily engages in friendly conversation with guests and is also knowledgeable to provide you with food recommendations that you will genuinely enjoy.
Hakkasan remains our favorite restaurant and since dinner date nights are difficult to schedule with the baby, it gives us so much joy that we can enjoy a nice meal during daytime (bonus points when the baby naps during your meal). At 168 QAR, Anthony and I will no longer have a lengthy debate on how many and what dishes to order as our favorite dishes are already included in the Taste of Hakkasan brunch menu.