Reena Patel Celebrates The Chinese New Year at HKK
2015 is the Chinese new year of the sheep, also known as the year of the goat or ram. Naturally, the auspicious occasion warrants a full on celebratory Far Eastern feast and London’s Michelin-starred HKK ensures that no culinary stone is left unturned.
The sumptuous 10-course menu created by talented head chef Tong Chee Hwee journeys you through eight of China’s most influential provinces lauded for their culinary tradition to a taste of the varying authentic regional dishes and flavours.
We embarked on a fantastic foodie trail with beautifully illustrated menus featuring dish names and key taste words as our colourful culinary road maps, all the while being seated at our dining table. First, we explored out to the mountainous Anhui province, then on to the coastal regions of the Jiangsu province and to the city of Bejing in the Shandong province and finally, finishing off our experience with two tribute desserts.
To get us started, we sipped on the Yang Walker cocktail, a short tipple mixed with the Chinese spirit Baijiu and a fresh sprig of rosemary and were served with the first appetiser of marinated pork cubes layered with a sweetly perfumed Osmanthus wine jelly. This is based on Su cuisine from the Jiangsu province of China, which is typically prepared with a delicacy that complements the quality of the ingredients.
Our second starter presented us with Lu cuisine, where dishes are salty and sweet, tender and crunchy. The most well known dish of Beijing is Peking duck and so, a rich and glossy cherry wood roasted duck was carved by the skilful chef right in front of our very eyes and plated up as a deliciously familiar trio of crispy skin, succulent meat and a pancake roll, all with a rich umami flavour.
We just as eagerly tucked into the third dish of a light, delicate and crunchy yet soft-textured seafood dim sum parcel trilogy (dim sum itself originates from Guangdong) was presented in a steam basket and is an integral part of Yue cuisine.
Dish number four treated us to Min cuisine from the Fujian region – a delicate yet flavoursome seafood broth using abalone, mountain yam and sea cucumber called monk jumps over the wall, named after the famous ‘buddha jumps over the wall’ soup, which is named from the Chinese legend of a travelling monk who was so overcome by the sensational smell that he jumped over the wall of his wayside inn, abandoning his vegetarian diet to eat the soup.
Immersed half way into our experience (but feeling happily more than half full), we tried the fifth course to kick-off our mains: pan-grilled Chilean sea bass in a ‘cha cha’ hot and spicy, slightly tangy and piquant sauce, which is based on Xiang cuisine, renowned for being hot, sour and spicy from the Hunan province.
Our sixth course introduced us to Hui cuisine from the Anhui province: a smoky jasmine tea smoked poussin with a distinctive mushroom flavours.
A plate of braised king soy Wagyu beef dressed in a Merlot wine sauce welcomed us to Zhe cuisine found in the Zhejiang province. This satisfyingly rich seventh dish nods to the method of cooking wine with meat.
To complete our mains during course number eight, we tasted New Zealand scampi in the style of Chuan cuisine from the Szechuan province, famous for its bold and spicy flavours such as chilli, garlic and of course, the Szechuan pepper, which means ‘flower pepper’ from the prickly ash tree.
Finally, the HKK team serve the final two courses as desserts to honour the dim sum dish with a trio of dark chocolate dumplings infused with yuzu and ginger and to pay homage to the year of the sheep, a sweet plate of sheep’s milk mousse, pandan curd and caramelised puffed rice.
Suffice to say, this is a truly triumphant menu fit for any foodie emperor and empress – Gong Xi Fa Cai!
The HKK Chinese New Year menu is available until 28 February 2015, offers a vegetarian option and is available without wine pairings.