Hakkasan Mayfair: Indulgent, but definitely worth it (June 2014)

Going to Hakkasan is an experience, from beginning to end, and while not cheap, it is undoubtedly worth it. The sense of anticipation and occasion is heightened on arrival. While the exterior of the building is relatively nondescript, in an office block to the side of Berkeley Square, diners are forced to walk down a relatively long, delicately-scented black passageway lit only by small sparkling lights in order to reach the dining room. Even though this was my fourth time here (but the first in a reviewing capacity), the potential excitement of what lies ahead does not wear off. We were greeted by an attentive server after our walk and shown into the surprisingly light and spacious dining room, decorated broadly in a modern Asian style with primarily functional red and black fittings. It is, however, the food that really does the talking here. Our group of four ordered widely from the a la carte menu and hence had the privilege of sampling a broad spectrum of the restaurant's dishes. The emphasis at Hakkasan is on modern interpretations of Cantonese dishes, sometimes embellished with English ingredients. This is food prepared to the highest quality standard, packed full of diverse flavours, melt-in-the-mouth softness and not a hint of excess salt/ sugar/ fat/ grease/ MSG here at all. While the dim-sum were superb, Hakkasan really excelled with its mains, and highlights for us were the stir-fried venison with mushrooms, leek and chilli (wonderfully tender and perfectly balanced spiciness) and the roasted silver cod with champagne and honey (wonderfully indulgent). Our food was washed down with two bottles of Gerhard Moser's first-class Gruner Veltliner, a great selection from a broad list. All of this doesn't come cheap – fortunately paid for on expenses on this occasion – but when it is this good, it is definitely worth indulging now and then!