For those of you unfamiliar with the brunch scene in Dubai, it is not like any brunch you have ever been to. Friday brunch in Dubai is an all you can eat, all you can drink expat affair that runs anywhere from 12:00 until 4:30pm and can continue into the wee hours of the morning. It is not for the faint of heart.
My friend from Switzerland is in town this weekend so a few of us met for brunch yesterday to celebrate her visit. The usual brunch options include Traiteur (my favourite by far), Yalumba (for the party people), Al Qasr (the biggest) and Zuma (for the civilized). This time we tried something new and the food was so good I had to share.
Hakkasan is a high class modern Chinese restaurant that originated in the west end of London. It now includes restaurants in the USA, the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha) and India. The brunch in Dubai starts and 1pm and consists of a set dim sum menu with unlimited tea (199aed/person), wine and beer (395aed/person) or champagne and fancy cocktails (500aed/person) depending on which option you choose. There is also an a la carte menu if you prefer but the food is pricey. The set brunch menu is a great way to taste many different dishes without spending a small fortune.
The restaurant interior design is gorgeous, dark wood complemented by white marble and turquoise and the outdoor patio is equally beautiful, especially this time of year. In fact it might even be a little bit chilly as the sun doesn’t hit the patio until late in the afternoon. (Sorry to my friends in Canada who are buried in snow right now!) Brunch wasn’t that busy which I am assuming is because Hakkasan is located in Emirates Towers near the business district but I imagine the restaurant is full of the power lunch and after work crowd during the week.
Brunch here is different than the usual in a couple of ways. Firstly, they serve only dim sum and secondly, there is no buffet. It includes a set menu of 10 different dim sum dishes plus dessert which your server delivers to your table a few dishes at a time so you can savour each bite. Poached peking dumplings, crispy duck rolls, roasted duck noodles with XO sauce, prawn and Chinese chive dumplings. Each piece of dim sum was absolutely delicious, full of flavour and among the best I have ever tasted. (Except maybe for the Mooli puff, which looked like a carrot but was actually noodles and vegetable broth on the inside. Still tasty but the least favourite at our table.) My favourite was the baked venison puff which was to-die-for-good and reminiscent of the baked BBQ pork buns I ate at Tim Ho Wan’s in Hong Kong. Desert, homemade sorbets with a surprisingly yummy topping (you will have to find out what that means for yourself), was equally memorable.
Used to a huge buffet, we had initially been concerned that there might not be enough food, especially for the men’s appetites, but there was nothing to fear. We finished everything but the high quality variety of dim sum was enough food for the six of us. Besides, it was a pleasant change to leave brunch feeling happy and satisfied rather than disgustingly full.
Overall, Hakkasan was a lovely civilized brunch experience that you must try.