Oh, Hakkasan. Birthplace of the hakki-sack. I jest. Hacky-sack players are pretty much next to last on the list of people I’d think would eat at Hakkasan. Last would be the guy who is always outside my local Von’s asking for money. I offered him an orange once, which he took, then said “I’d take a banana”. Which I did not have and I doubt Hakkasan does either (except maybe mixed into a dessert?). I wanted to say “I’d take a thank you”, but decided his day had probably been worse than mine so I’d let it go. Not that I’d tell a dude off late at night outside of Von’s. Although I once got in some frat-type guys’ faces in the street late at night. They had kicked a cat. I should have kicked them.
Oh, right. Food.
I told you I was going to write about my LA dining experiences from time to time, so! For your consideration:
This is one snazzy Beverly Hills joint. It deems itself as modern Cantonese cuisine. I confess I am somewhat unequipped to really judge Chinese food. I never eat it outside the home. I rarely even cook food that requires chopsticks or qualifies as faux asian-ish.
So let’s start with the visuals. The of interior of Hakkasan is sleek. Dark but not too dark, expansive but somehow our table felt cozy. Really gorgeous wood interior. Tables are divided with the carved oak and Chinese screens. The music was a wee loud but not so much so as to really bug me.
As for the eats, that picture at the top is of the sautéed mushroom lettuce wraps. We didn’t order them, they were apology wraps. Unfortunately, there was a wee bit of a snafu with our vegetarian dumplings which turned out not to be vegetarian.
Oh, obviously but anyway, dumplings are by their cuddly nature adorable:
A warning to vegetarians: there is a bit of cultural misunderstanding between us Los Angelenos and the rest of the world when it comes to what being a vegetarian is. At Hakkasan some of the items marked as vegetarian do in fact have seafood in them, so (nicely) grill your server accordingly. Also unfortunately, the very nice French guy who took our order-who I think might have been the manager as our official waitress was somebody else else-misunderstood that I wanted the lotus dish and brought me the stir-fried mushrooms with yam bean, sugar snap peas and macadamia nuts. It was excellent, but I’d been looking forward to the lotus. I didn’t bother bringing this to their attention though. After dealing with the dumpling ado I was not feeling like bringing up more problems, and well, I do love macadamia nuts.
Despite all the veggie confusion, they did get it right that I wanted my salad dressing on the side. This is Beverly Hills, I imagine that is their default. Next to requests to replace the dressing with something not in the menu, or air. I shouldn’t stereotype. East-siders are probably even more particular as to how they want their food.
Onward. My friend’s sea bass was rather gorgeous:
In full disclosure, another reason I did not argue for my lotus was because at that point I had pleasantly been plied with wine and saké recommended by their sommelier, Jared Hooper. Knowing Jared was also the reason I ended up venturing to Hakkasan.
The saké was an unfiltered one. My friend had requested sweeter saké, and this was what Jared recommended. I found it quite tasty, and light in texture despite the milky appearance. The white stuff is rice…particles? “Fines” is the word maybe? I could practically have had it for dessert, but for my friend’s sweet-craving taste buds, it was perfect for dinner.
The wine list alone is really reason enough to visit Hakkasan. What I drank for dinner was a Sancerre, because when I see a Sancerre on the menu it’s a Pavlovian dog-like response of mine to start salivating and order it. Later, Jared popped by with a pour of another white he would not disclose the identity of. It was sweeter, more viscous than my Sancerre with a pleasant honeyed taste to it. After making that comparison he disclosed that it was, like the completely different Sancerre I was drinking, also a Sauvignon Blanc, but from New Zealand, as opposed to the Loire valley my Sancerre Sauvignon came from. I love doing blind tastings, especially when they surprise me. Jared is a fountain of wine knowledge, and is obviously passionate about what he does. Trust in his guidance and you will be very happy.
So to sum up. I liked it. I had a good time. A 90210 sip code restaurant is unlikely to become a regular go-to for me, but I’d go back.
After all, I DO need to try the lotus.
233 N Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210