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First Look

Hakkasan Beverly Hills: First Look

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Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 9:24 AM
click to enlarge Sesame prawn toast at Hakkasan - B. RODELL
  • B. Rodell
  • Sesame prawn toast at Hakkasan

There's no sign outside of Hakkasan Beverly Hills, just a menu on the sidewalk and a cryptic symbol above two huge doors, covered in geometric metal lattice, that are practically impossible to open. Not to worry: A woman dressed in her restaurant uniform -- in this case, a tight black lace dress with a plunging neckline -- will most likely heave the door open for you.

Hakkasan Beverly Hills, which opened in mid-September, is the latest location for the UK-based restaurant group. The group began in London in 2001 and now has restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, New York and Las Vegas, among other cities. The group trades in high-end Chinese food for the 1%, the kind of clientele that just might fork over $288 at lunch for a whole Peking duck topped with caviar.

The restaurant is set up like a very sleek maze, a collection of interconnecting rooms that all look similar and that have walls made of more lattice, meaning you can see through all the walls, which has the effect of a kaleidoscope or mirrors reflecting on themselves. The whole place smells of jasmine, punctuated occasionally with the smell of truffle oil wafting from a passing plate of food.

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At lunch a dim sum menu is offered, including scallion-intense rectangular Shanghai siew long bao dumplings, "prawn toast" that's presented as spheres of sesame-crusted buoyant shrimp, and all manner of seared and steamed dumplings.

There are also salads, soups, and pricey entrees, such as the aforementioned duck, and slightly more reasonable dishes like a $37 grilled seabass with Chinese honey, a $68 grilled Wagyu, or a $22 chicken claypot that was generous with the caramelized garlic cloves but lacked some of that sticky claypot goodness of less -- refined?? -- versions.

The cocktail program is nothing if not theatrical, with a "smoky negroni" that arrives in a huge stoppered carafe full of smoke. A server pours it out over a large spherical ice cube as you oooh and ahhh. It even tastes pretty good.

See also: First Look archives


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