It’s no secret that Asian cuisine is one of my all-time favourites.
Having visited the likes of Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and Bali over the last five years, my tastebuds have definitely developed a leaning towards oriental flavours which I often try to replicate in my own kitchen. One country I’ve yet to visit (and on the travel bucket list) is China – but one of the major benefits of living in a city like Abu Dhabi is that when it comes to world-class fine dining, you never really have to travel too far to find what you’re looking for.
Truth be told, while I do enjoy Chinese food from time to time , I find it often runs the risk of being far too greasy, dense and overpowering. The modern Cantonese fare at Hakkasan Abu Dhabi however, is anything but.
We started the meal with the vegetarian steamed dim sum platter – which was absolutely divine.
The selection included sweetcorn, chive and king oyster dumplings which were perfectly steamed and just bursting with flavour. So much so that I hardly gave the chili dipping sauce they came with a second glance.
The server did inform me that the purple king oyster mushroom dumplings were made using a small amount of vegetarian butter (presumably to sauté the mushrooms) so I avoided those.
Next up was the nut lettuce wraps – a delectable stir-fried nut and mixed vegetable filling served with crisp baby gem shells.
These were a delight to much on – the savoury filling was tied together by a slightly sweet soy-based sauce and contrasted brilliantly with the fresh lettuce. Also a great gluten-free option for those who choose to eschew wheat.
For the first of our mains, we opted for the stir-fried lotus root and asparagus in a black pepper sauce. I adored the delicate flavours of this dish and the immense crunch of the lotus root and veg. Not swimming in oil, overcooked or over seasoned in the slightest.
Then came the star of the show – the tofu and aubergine claypot in a chilli black bean sauce with shiitake mushrooms.
Now this, is the dish that I would go back to Hakkasan for. The tofu, while definitely fried, wasn’t greasy at all, and the rich eggplant and black bean sauce were a fine complement in terms of flavour and texture. What a treat for the tastebuds!
I should note that our server informed us this would be made with a silken tofu, as the original dish is made with an egg-based tofu, so be sure to ask for the vegan option if you order this dish.
Another favourite of the evening meal was this simple side of baby pak choi in garlic sauce – I could’ve eaten 3 whole servings of this on my own! I’m reminding myself to attempt to re-create this soon.
Last but not least – a trio of dairy-free and vegan sorbets for dessert. Strawberry, coconut and passion-banana.
My favourite was the strawberry which had the perfect balance between sweet and tart. A great way to end the meal.
Some notes on the experience overall:
- The restaurant has a beautiful ambience (and from what I understand a gorgeous terrace – the humidity and heat this time of year meant we had to sit indoors). It’s an ideal spot for an intimate dinner or a private celebration.
- The service is absolutely spot on – the staff was very welcoming and extremely knowledgable when it came to recommending vegan-friendly dishes from their vegetarian menu.
- Their vegetarian menu items are easily veganizable, and most of them are suitable for gluten-free diners too – so again, this would be an ideal spot to dine with friends or family with specific dietary needs.
- Portions are moderately sized, so if you’re going hungry I would recommend sharing a few of the starters to begin with.
- It is a high-end restaurant located at one of Abu Dhabi’s most renowned landmarks, the Emirates Palace – so the prices do reflect that. That said however, it is definitely worthwhile, in my opinion.
All in all, a wonderful first foray into the household name that is Hakkasan. I’ll definitely be back.
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi is located at the Emirates Palace on Corniche Road in Abu Dhabi | Tel: 02 690 7999 | Website | They are open every day from 6 PM until 12:00 AM, advance bookings are recommended.