Bloggers are rather fond of superlatives and phrases such as ‘it was the best of all time’ and ‘my favourite ever’ so much so that it starts to become a little unbelievable… not another afternoon tea / steak / glass of wine that’s the best ever…However, a couple of years ago when Mr S and I visited HKK in Shoreditch, I declared their Peking duck the best I’d ever had and I really meant it!
So when I was invited to HKK to try their Saturday lunch Duck & Champagne menu, I obviously had a big smile on my face…
Even bigger was Mr S’s smile as duck and pancakes are quite possibly his favourite food ever…no exaggeration.
HKK is part of the Hakkasan group, which you’ll already know is one of my favourite restaurant brands having visited the Mayfair and Hanway Place branches numerous times as well as the restaurants in New York and Las Vegas.
Like Hakkasan, HKK serve a menu of fine-dining Cantonese food with an epic tasting menu available for dinner and the option of à la carte choices at lunch. At the helm is Chef Tong Chee Hwee whose food tells a story of China through reinventing old recipes alongside unique and innovative dishes.
The interior of the restaurant is totally different to the dark and sultry Oriental decor of the sister restaurants, instead HKK is classic and pared down with neutral grey tones, baubles hanging from the ceiling, an intimate bar area and window to peek into the kitchen.
The new Duck & Champagne menu is a celebration of the famous Peking Duck which is one of the most well-known dishes from China with a history of hundreds of years. Despite the name, the dish actually originates from Nanjing which is hundreds of miles away from Peking – or Beijing. The dish came to Beijing when the Ming Dynasty Emperor Yongle moved his seat there in the 15th Century and it was originally named Shaoyazi or burning duck.
By the middle of the 20th Century Peking Duck had become a symbol of China and dish was available everywhere and has been favoured by visiting diplomats and politicians.
The menu is for two to share and includes a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne, which kicked things off rather nicely! The renowned champagne was beautifully crisp and the fruity notes made it the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant’s signature dish.
The four course set menu starts with a blue crab salad that arrived at the table dramatically smoking with dry ice. The extra cold salad was more of an amuse bouche with a delicious and juicy hunk of crab perched on chicory in a crispy basket. The sweet crab was perfectly complemented with a selection of fruit and a slightly tangy goji berry dressing.
With the tasty crab quickly gobbled up, the main event was wheeled out – a whole cherry wood roasted Peking Duck.
Just look at the perfect glossy skin…
The chef carved the duck table side and as he did so the waiter explained to us the process that duck goes through on the journey to the plate.
The story actually starts right from the birth of the duck in Silver Hill Farm, a place hand-picked as the Irish climate is perfect for farming.
Preparing the duck is actually a two-day process as at HKK each duck is marinated in a glaze of Chinese five spice, lemongrass, sugar, vinegar and garlic and then hung to dry for a minimum of 24 hours at 3 degrees.
Next the duck is placed in a custom-made glass windowed firestone oven for one and a half hours over a cherry wood fire until the meat is perfectly cooked and the skin is crisp.
At the restaurant the duck is served two different ways and this is what the first serving looked like:
There are three elements to the dish and we were instructed to eat them in a certain order to enhance the flavour of each. First, the perfectly crisp skin dipped in sugar followed by a juicy sliver of meat paired with a fresh salad. Finally a little sandwich of duck and cucumber topped with Imperial caviar and wrapped in a steamed black truffle mantou. I’m loving the trend for bao buns in London but HKK takes it to another level of fine dining with this dish that is both artistic and innovative.
The second serving is that classic must-order dish that everyone always goes for in a Chinese restaurant…
The perfect juicy duck with that beautifully crisp skin and succulent fat served with a sweet hoisin sauce and crisp slices of cucumber. A dish that would satisfy your cravings for Chinese take away but presented in the most elegant and refined way. It’s that simple duck and pancake dish but elevated to another level.
The pancakes were finely made with the added touch of sesame flavouring and there were plenty of them to layer the duck into…
On the side was a beautifully cooked ball of egg-fried rice and the waiter pored XO sauce over the top, we loved this dish too especially as there were more hunks of duck in the stock. Everything on the table worked so beautifully together – all the flavours, side dishes and the champagne in perfect harmony.
Mr S was in seventh heaven…
…and I was pretty happy too!
With all that unctuous fat and a bowl of rice each, we were feeling pretty full so I was really pleased to have a light dessert.
Nashi pear and champagne mousse with champagne sorbet and cotton candy was a great palate cleansing dessert that wasn’t too sweet after the heavy meal. I particularly loved the spun sugar decoration on the top with flecks of gold leaf.
I can honestly say that without an ounce of hyperbole, I still think HKK serves the very best duck in London. From the sourcing of the product to the skill of Chef Tong Chee Hwee and his team there is no doubt that this food is something truly special. And at £49 person the luxurious menu is not too expensive either.
88 Worship Street
020 3535 1888
I was invited to review.