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Friday, 18 December 2015

Duck & Champagne Menu at Michelin-Starred HKK - The Rolls Royce of Peking Duck Experiences at Unbeatable Value

Name: HKK - Duck & Champagne Saturday Lunch Menu

Where: 88 Worship Street, London EC2A 2BE, http://hkklondon.com/#home

Cost: The Duck & Champagne menu is available for Saturday lunchtimes only, at a cost of £49 per person. The menu is for two to share and includes a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV Champagne (which alone costs £79 on the a la carte menu) as well as a 4-course meal including a whole cherry wood roasted Peking duck (valued at £88 on the a la carte menu).

The Duck & Champagne menu cost £98 plus service for 2; if the Peking duck and bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne were to be ordered together from the a la carte menu, they would cost £167.

About: Tucked away in the City, a 5 minute walk from Liverpool Station, the 1-Michelin starred HKK is part of the renowned Hakkasan Group of restaurants. I was intrigued to learn of HKK’s new Duck & Champagne menu, launched in October 2015, and so hurried along to give it a try.

The menu features a whole HKK’s signature cherry wood roasted Peking duck, which takes 48 hours to create, using myriad cooking techniques - each 1.8kg, 65-day old duck from Southern Ireland is marinated in a glaze of Chinese five spice, lemon grass, sugar, and garlic, then showered with boiling water, vinegar and lemon juice. It is then hung to dry for a minimum of twenty-four hours at 3°C a procedure that ensures that the flesh separates from its skin so that it can be made so divinely crisp during cooking. After this drying process, the duck is placed in a custom-made glass-windowed firestone oven for one and a half hours over a cherry wood fire until the meat is succulent and the skin glossy and crisp.

What We Ate: We went of the Duck & Champagne menu which includes a Blue Crab salad, a whole cherry wood roasted Peking duck served three ways, egg-fried rice in a duck & abalone supreme stock and dessert. 

The Blue crab salad, dramatically served on dry ice, featured a pani puri shell filled with dragon fruit, pineapple and melon. On top sat a chicory leaf, and a piece of meaty blue crab, served with a dressing of vinegar, coconut, chilli and peanut. Pop the whole thing in the mouth for an explosion of crunchy texture, tropical fruit and sweet crab - sublime.

The main event was the cherry wood roasted Peking duck. The chef brought the whole duck to our table on a trolley (I loved this element of theatre when dining at HKK), and cut three choice delicacies for us to start with.

Crispy skin from the duck’s shoulder which we ate with organic brown sugar; breast served with a cress salad in sesame and vinegar & a streak of oyster sauce; and finally a manto bun filled with duck leg, leek, cucumber and hoisin sauce, with imperial caviar from Osetra.

While enjoying these delicacies, the rest of the duck was taken back to the kitchen to be carved. It returned expertly sliced and boned, served with slivers of cucumber and spring onion, plum sauce and freshly made sesame pancakes.

HKK’s Peking duck is in a league of its own – the crispy duck skin cracked in my mouth like thin caramel, the meat so utterly succulent, flavoursome and sweet. I've eaten Peking duck with pancakes hundreds of times, but never had anything approaching this level of sophistication and flavour.

To accompany, we were each served a little sphere of egg-fried rice stuffed with Palma ham, topped with dried XO scallop, and a deliciously rich duck and abalone supreme stock.

The dessert was a Nashi pear and Champagne mousse - a base of white chocolate mousse with pear puree, topped with a Champagne sorbet, and finished with cocktail candy and 24 carat gold leaf, bathed in a Chinese honey and Champagne consommé. This was a stunningly beautiful, refreshing dessert, served in a solid stone bowl - a reminder (as if it were needed) that these guys can cook.

What We Drank: We started with a couple of cocktails, both priced at £12.50. The pomegranate margarita blended tequila and plum sake with pomegranate and grapefruit juice, agave syrup and Absinthe. This had rich plum and pomegranate aromas, and a crust of Himalayan salt and grapefruit gave it a stimulating grip.

The Boulevardier was a reinterpretation of the Negroni, blending bourbon, cocchi di torino and Campari. I rarely drink a whisky-based Negroni, and this was an interesting and appetite-stimulating variation on a much-loved (by me, at any rate) theme.  

With the lunch menu, we shared a lovely bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne - elegance in a glass.

Likes: The Peking duck is sensational - a truly extraordinary elision of taste and texture, and probably the finest duck dish I have ever eaten. For a very reasonable price, the menu also includes imperial caviar, XO scallop, blue crab and a fine bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne. Elegant dining room, excellent service. 

Dislikes: None

Verdict: For the Rolls Royce, crème de la crème of Peking duck experiences, I can't think of anywhere else but HKK. For melt-in-the-mouth duck skin that crackles like caramel, meat that is sweet and tender as ambrosia, and a bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne thrown in at under £100 per couple, HKK’s Duck & Champagne menu is the place to be. It is excellent value for money too. Very highly recommended.

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