First Look at Hakkasan Mumbai

June 1, 2011 12:22 pm by
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As you ride the elevator to the second floor of Krystal, the building on Bandra’s Waterfield Road that houses Hakkasan, you get a 10-second preview of what awaits you at the Mumbai outpost of the Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant from London. The back-lit blue glass and steel that you see in the lifts are design elements that run through the restaurant, which opens on Thursday, June 2. The lifts lead you to a jasmine-scented lobby on the second floor, where a hefty oak wood door opens to the 6,500 square feet property that once housed long-shuttered pan-Asian establishment Seijo and the Soul Dish.

Hakkasan Mumbai is owned by Ka Restaurants, a company run by businessman Kishor Bajaj who owns the men’s tailoring label BadaSaab and the franchise for Italian clothing brand Brioni in India. Bajaj hired the services of Paris-based design studio Gilles & Boissier, which has kitted out the Hakkasans in Miami, Istanbul and Abu Dhabi, to ensure that its Mumbai avatar boasts the same dark and sexy aura as the branches in those cities. The Bandra-based Hakkasan is made up of a restaurant area, the Ling Ling Lounge and a 15-seater private dining room. A clutch of hostesses in hot pink cheongsams direct guests to their preferred spot, leading them through a narrow passage with carved wooden walls that divide the dining area and the lounge.

The Ling Ling Lounge is a seductive drinking-plus-dining space, the focal point of which is a 16-metre back-lit blue glass and stainless steel bar identical to the one at the London flagship  (it was what inspired a reviewer from UK newspaper The Independent to say that “if sexiness was tangible, it would look and feel like the star-spangled—in terms of both Michelin and celebrities—Chinese restaurant, Hakkasan”. The 44-cover room features slate walls, white Italian marble, and wooden grills (they’re called “cages”) that frame the dining area of the lounge, and lend it a sense of privacy, making it the perfect setting for a date. The split–level restaurant rooms, on the other hand, are more suited to family dining.

Tong Chee Hwee, the head chef at Hakkasan London has drafted the Mumbai menu, 30 per cent of which is brand new. The additions were made with the assistance of Kent Lee, who has eight years experience in Hakkasan properties across the world and is now the executive chef of Hakkasan Mumbai; and Wah Cheong Soon, the master dim sum chef brought in from the London Hakkasan and dim sum restaurant Yauatcha. Their innovations include options for vegetarians such as Edamame dumplings, stir-fried lotus root with asparagus and yam bean, and tofu and aubergine clay-pot. The menu also includes Hakkasan’s signature dishes such as the baked Chilean sea bass, pi pa duck, roasted silver cod with champagne and Chinese honey, and Peking duck with caviar. Prices, expectedly, are on the stratospheric side, with most cocktails starting at Rs650, dim sums at Rs700, and main courses at Rs550 onwards. At Rs8,200, the whole Peking duck with caviar, which you have to order a day in advance, is the most expensive item on the menu.

Hakkasan will also offer a dessert and wine pairing menu; should guests want to pick their own, they can choose from 125 international wine labels. The highlights of the extensive cocktail menu include the guava bellini, the strawberry and ginger bellini, the Hakkatini (orange vodka, Campari, Grand Marnier and apple juice) and the Hakka (vodka, sake, coconut cream and lychee juice). There will also be a range of single malts, including Highland malts, Islay malts and Speysides as well as Japanese and Irish blends.

Through June, Hakkasan will only be open for dinner but by Saturday, July 2, they hope to start serving a separate, dim sum lunch menu. We were also told that Hakkasan Mumbai will pack in a “special surprise” that will add to the theatricality of the dining experience.