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At HKK London a New Tasting Menu Marks the Height of Summer

HKK London
88 Worship Street, London, EC2A 2BE
Cuisine: Chinese
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Helen Hokin: This Yin Yang tasting menu balances the heat of summer with light, cooling foods

The menu named ‘Xiao Shu, Da Shu,' meaning 'slight heat, great heat' denotes two of the 24 terms in the Chinese solar calendar and describe the height of Chinese summer with its hot and humid days. 

Sounds a bit like August in London.

HKK’s Michelin-starred, Executive Chef Tong has, with his ever-evolving and innovative approach to Chinese cooking, devised a tasting menu where Yang - the warm energy of summer is balanced with cooling foods representing Yin.  Cool, nourishing dishes, according to Chinese philosophy, revitalise a body and spirit like mine on this July evening now wilting in the heat.

Our first of 8 courses was a melting chargrilled octopus tentacle, perfectly cooked and served with a most extraordinary sauce: miso, mustard and cinnamon, a combination that worked unbelievably, no, incredibly well and where no one component dominated the other which I suppose you could put down to Tong’s fetish for balance. I hope they keep this one on the menu.

Each course has its own pairing which turned out to be an exciting mash-up of wine, Champagne, whisky and more - all curated by the redoubtable, Christine Parkinson, Hakkasan Group Head of Wine since 2001.

From a glass of bone-dry Japanese sake, Dewazakura Izumi Judan, poured alongside the octopus, we steered by the Loire for a glass of 2015 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie to go with a bowl of langoustine and mushroom soup. For this second course, a spoon conveniently prepared for us already with sparkling fresh langoustine, goji berries and shitake mushrooms sat inside a bowl of mushroom broth. Deeply savoury and long on umami flavour it made for a highly original interpretation of surf and turf and yet, like the equally curious combination of cinnamon, miso and mustard, it totally and utterly worked.

Of the eight courses, the standout is Chef Tong’s dim sum trilogy. But it wasn’t the amusing idea of having us paint our own soy sauce onto the little soft parcels stuffed with scallop and white asparagus, or langoustine and bamboo shoot, or even the parcels themselves that burst open and filled the mouth with delicious savoury liquid. It was the Hibiki Harmony whisky mixed with Benjamin and Bloom olong tea. I love a whisky and mixing it with tea is so astonishingly soothing, you don’t need a thing, not even Tong's superior dim sum, to appreciate it.

Other courses included HKK’s signature cherry wood Peking duck, Seared scallop with XO sauce and a first rate Jasmine tea-smoked Wagyu beef. As it turns out, the Chinese believe that grilled meat has cooling properties and so, like the Brits with our barbecues, grilling is an essential part of the summer months.

A perfectly-formed cube of compressed watermelon, following the meat course, worked as a gorgeous summery refresher before the dessert proper.

From Pastry Chef Graham Hornigold, known for his attention to the use of texture, dessert didn’t disappoint. Longevity Peach – a sweet and juicy peach, a symbol of long life -  sitting on a delicate bed of crumble, textured with oats and itsy bitsy spiced bread crumbs was an explosion os summer stone fruits with notes of plumb and damson making their way onto the palate. Perfect paired with a 2011 Torcolato Macullan.

A flawless experience in the calm of HKK's serene dining room.  

Tong’s tasting menus – I have tried a few now - just get better and better. This is one not to be missed.

 

Helen Hokin was a guest of HKK.

HKK

88 Worship Street,

Broadgate Quarter,

London EC2A 2BE

020 3535 1888

reservations@hkk.com

hkklondon.com


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27 July 2017
By: Helen Hokin
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