Having finished my A-levels recently, I wanted to celebrate; did I go and party, drink life to the lees (as one of Tennyson’s poems states, that I can now forget; shame I couldn’t remember that quote for when I needed it!). Naaa, a nice lunch with my dad is more my thang.
I went for the 8-course tasting menu, I didn’t want to go too mad and get the 15 course menu; partly for financial reasons and partly because I feel I should get my results before celebrating on a 15 course scale!
I have implemented a scoring system for the individual courses this time as my understanding of Chinese cuisine isn’t too vast. I mean I have had a fair few all you can eats in my time and countless takeaways, but this was my first high end Chinese eating experience and I say, when in doubt mark out of 10!
We started with the bai hua prawn (don’t ask me, although I’m pretty sure there was prawn in it). It looked fairly appetizing and tasted very good indeed. For only a bite size little thing, it delivered surprising texture and flavour variants. 8/10
Next was the dramatically named dim sum trilogy. Now, this dish really highlights my inexperience and naivety of the food criticism world; in my haste and impatience to tuck in, I am now unable to tell you what any of the three consisted off. I can report however, whatever they were, they were very enjoyable. However, having read a number of reviews before hand saying that the dim sum was the best they had ever tasted, I was a touch disappointed. They didn’t quite deliver the depth of flavour I was expecting. 8/10
The eagerly awaited cherry wood roasted Peking duck was next, the dish that everyone (well me anyway) comes to HKK to try. The duck could not have been talked up anymore, particularly after the waiter told us that it was the highlight of the meal and after reading about their specially designed duck oven. It was brought out of the kitchen into the middle of the dining room and we are asked to join the chef, to watch the carving, oooh the drama. My G-d, my lord, my Christ were just some of the blasphemous references that popped to mind upon my first viewing with the duck. It looked fantastic. The skin looked like caramel, a thick, yet tender layer of fat beneath and then beautifully pink meat, My Word! It was served three ways, as is trendy these days, a piece of skin, a small bit of breast and of course in a pancake. The skin was simply the best skin (from any animal) I have eaten, and believe me, I have eaten many a skin in my time. The breast was incredibly juicy, but perhaps didn’t quite deliver completely in the flavour department, as my sky high expectations had, well expected. The pancake was mighty fine, but there was no where near enough duck to satisfy us, and I feel after such attention is paid to the duck, to have only a very small bit of it, is a bit of a let down. 8.5/10
Next was a very light chicken soup, served with goji berries and the thinnest tofu you’ve ever seen, well I’ve ever seen. Now I hate goji berries, almost with a passion, but somehow they worked here. It was ultimately a palate cleanser and overall lacked any real flavour or excitement and I was disappointed to find that it was included in one of the 8 dishes. 4/10
Mushrooms, lily bulb and broccoli in XO sauce was next. Pretty good and the only dish (from my memory) that delivered a slight kick. The biggest problem with this dish was its incompatibility with chop sticks (although I can’t really place the blame on HKK for my ineptness and reliance with a knife and fork). 6.5/10
The jasmine smoked waygu beef was next. I’m back into blasphemous references territory with this dish. Seriously amazing. The best beef ever. Absolute highlight of the meal (sorry to ruin the rest of my review). 9.5/10
Our first dessert was a mandarin jelly with pandan sorbet and jasmine meringue was. Pretty good indeed. Slightly tart base went well with the sweet, crunchy meringue, with the sorbet helping everything to gel together, in to a cohesive, tasty mouthful. 7/10
Finally, pineapple fritter, salted lime jelly and vanilla ice cream. Beautifully crunchy pastry around the wonderfully warm pineapple was a nice combination. However, the dish was quite similar in taste to the first of our desserts and I feel a more contrasting flavoured dish would have worked better, in this tasting menu. I also felt, if they could combine the two somehow, it would make a truly world class dessert. 7.5/10
The biggest criticism of the meal was the portion size. I think they took the idea of a tasting menu a little too seriously. I have had tasting menus in the past and never have portion sizes been so small. When the waiter came round at the end of the meal and asked if there is anything else he can get us, I was close to saying, ‘a bit more of that beef please’. If I am fortunate enough to come back to HKK, I would probably plump for the a la carte menu.
Overall, I was pleased with my meal; the beef alone was worth the journey and at £48, it showed pretty good value for money.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.
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Eat, drink and be merry and enjoy your summer!