Luke Bennett marked a significant anniversary for one of Doha’s favourite Chinese eateries and discovered excellence is the secret to longevity.
January 2013 would prove to be a significant and highly rewarding moment for Doha’s culinary scene: the doors of Hakkasan excitedly swung open, gifting an exquisite celebration of Chinese cuisine. Fast forward a decade and it remains at the pinnacle, still intent on displaying outstanding hospitality.
Stepping eagerly through the retracting door, we were instantly absorbed by the mysterious atmosphere exuding from every inch of the opulent establishment. The stylish, interior décor seamlessly spills onto the outdoor terrace where dark, geometric partitions harmonise with lush greenery to offer an intimate, al fresco experience. The iconic sounds of a Hakkasan restaurant subtly reverberate across the tables, heightening the sophisticated ambience.
Upon taking our seats, we were welcomed by an extremely friendly waitress by the name of Karma who suggested different courses to taste and emanated a true passion for her profession. A passion that clearly extends to the whole team as Duleep, the Restaurant Manager, offered his own expert description of their culinary philosophy as the dishes started to arrive.
Since the inception of the Hakkasan brand in 2001, the Crispy Duck Salad has been delighting diners worldwide, and it is obvious to see why this signature dish has withstood the test of time. Braised in a concoction of warming aromatics then lightly fried, the sumptuous fibres of duck are both delightfully tender and exceptionally crispy. Complementing the breathtaking meat is a refreshing bundle of cress infused with a saccharine plum and hoisin dressing. Offering a balancing touch of sharpness are segments of pomelo and grapefruit that complete this refined, memorable salad.
The sight of the legendary bamboo basket meant only one thing: the arrival of the Supreme Dim Sum Platter. Removing the bamboo lid revealed a sea of vivid colour and artistic design. Light yet flavoursome, each charming parcel was generously filled with a variety of meat and encased in an expertly steamed layer of dough. A black, pyramid-like casing with golden edges housed a palate-pleasing mix of seabass and ginger while an ocean-blue shell enclosed a delightful blend of Wagyu beef with a hint of black garlic. The art of creating dumplings has certainly been perfected as the Hakka Fried Dim Sum Platter showcased yet more intricate and fascinating designs. A rich and flavourful fusion of Waygu beef and mushroom wrapped in a crispy, caterpillar-like shell was by far the best dumpling I have tasted. An element of fun was offered by a pumpkin-themed ball with a gamey duck filling; an explosion of flavours burst from a fiery, red sphere with a sweet and sour lobster, lychee and yuzu centre. Dim Sum translates to ‘touch the heart’. Our hearts were certainly touched by the assortment of dumplings that brought awe and wonder to the table.
Creative. Passionate. Skilful. Words that perfectly define both the chefs and bartenders showcasing their craft at Hakkasan. Such innovation and expertise are evident in the highly pleasurable mocktails we were served to complement the outstanding food. The signature blend of Sparkling San gifted a wonderfully fresh hit of raspberry and an interesting undertone of tamarind whilst Eden celebrated the sweetness of red grape elevated with lychee and soda.
Now back to the food and Hakkasan’s infatuation with sourcing only the finest ingredients to honour with subtle, contemporary enhancements. Jasmine Tea Smoked Wagyu Beef Ribs encompass this belief perfectly and proved to be extremely moreish – a dish you’d rather not share. Stylishly stacked, the cubes of beef were delectably succulent as a result of the lengthy braising, yet expertly rendered in the wok. A highly pleasurable combination of textural elements was matched by the intriguing flavours of a delicate coating of intense, sweet sauce and the smoky aroma of tea leaves.
The next delectable dish arrived in the form of Stir-fry Black Pepper Rib Eye Beef. A different cut, infused with a sharper marinade of pepper and Worcestershire sauce, was equally impressive. The considered addition of fried garlic chips provided an exciting ‘snap’ to the tender nuggets of beef, all of which were delicately embraced in a nest of crispy, edible netting. To end the festival of expertly prepared meat dishes was a vibrant, generous chunk of Grilled Chilean Seabass. Gently brushed in a luscious Chinese honey glaze, the fibres of fish were pleasurably caramelised on the outside, yet the soft and juicy interior was effortlessly teased apart with a pinch of my chopsticks.
After more enjoyable interactions with the staff, the desserts were bestowed upon us. Fresh and creamy, stylish and graceful, the Coconut Semifreddo was satisfyingly smooth on the palate and refreshingly light – still delivering on flavour which was further enhanced with pops of sweet mango gel and a dusting of a crumbly biscuit soil. Karma ended our evening with a sprinkle of theatre as she deftly poured chocolate sauce over an eyecatching sphere of Hazelnut Parfait. Crack through the nutty shell to unveil a velvety, rich chocolate parfait with a burst of caramel oozing from its centre. A magnificent harmony of nuts and chocolate, sided with crunchy, candied shards, created a wonder of textures.
As I joyfully reminisce about our exceptional evening, a multitude of reasons why Hakkasan is sure to reign supreme for another decade race through my mind: distinctive ambience, extraordinary hospitality, sublime food and a highly memorable experience. ✤
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