I’ve been to a lot of upscale Asian restaurants, and one in particular, Hakkasan, definitely didn’t disappoint. As one of the most high-class modern Chinese restaurants in New York City, Hakkasan is actually originally from the west end of London. This strange combination makes many people curious, so today we came to Hakkasan to interview the chef who was born in London and came all the way here to New York, to talk about his ideas regarding the new Chinese-style food culture.
When we first walked in, passing through the long dark hallway, we can see two gorgeous women in red dresses, who are waiting there to graciously greet us. At the end of the hallway, there is an elegant dark bar adorned by a fabulous background and blue lights from the counter.
Starting in London, chef Rory traveled extensively to constantly learn and cultivate his cooking skills. These travels took him to numerous respected culinary destinations, including Spain and France. He told us that doing Asian fusion is a real challenge, but is also the reason why it is fascinating. In Hakkasan, every time he tries different combinations of food or invents a new dish, his workmates will taste and together decide if it’s good enough to put on the menu. The menu changes seasonally, differentiating from spring, summer, fall and winter. It also reflects the length of the seasons.
Speaking of his favorite dessert dish, chef Rory recommends the Mint julep ganache, made of eucalyptus with mint chocolate chip ice cream. Its taste is very light and good for the warmer months. As for cocktails, chef Rory recommends the Rum daisy, which is made of Denizen rum, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice and Angostura bitters, and is best when accompanied with the dim sum. There are a total of five pastry chefs in Hakkasan, so the working environment can sometimes become competitive and intense. When we ask him what makes his dessert special, he told us that the foundation is always about the flavor. The second is the presentation.
In order to match the high-end ambiance of the restaurant, they have a really high standard of presentation. Because he first learned cooking in London, and knowing that people in New York have different preferences and tastes, he tries his best to keep the balance of flavors.
The decor here can best be described as swanky and spacious. Designed by the French designer Gilles & Bossier, the interior is full of Chinese elements and styles. From the laser cut marble to the delicate Chinese style embroidery, the design conveys good taste from every detail—there are even dragons etched on the chairs.
Normally the restaurant wouldn’t allow other people to go into the kitchen, but we were able to see the chef creating dishes inside the kitchen from the side door. We can confidently say that the culinary skill is indeed impressive. It’s worth mentioning that this is one of the earliest fine Asian restaurants to receive a Michelin star. From what we’ve tasted, it was a star Hakassan totally deserved!