Hakkasan Friday Brunch, Emirates Palace Hotel

Hakkasan Friday Brunch (updated May 2018): The first time we went to Hakkasan for brunch was back in 2014. On wanting to try something different and after a bit of deliberation, it was decided that we’d try out Hakkasan. In case there’s anyone on the planet who doesn’t know, Hakkasan is a Michelin starred restaurant with a modern Cantonese menu that first opened in London in 2001, but now has branches all over the world – one of which of course being right here in Abu Dhabi, situated inside the renowned Emirates Palace Hotel. But as with everything, things change and brunches evolve, so it was high time we tried out their revamped and relaunched brunch.

The first time we visited back in 2014, we arrived on time, as we have become accustomed to doing for brunches that start and finish within a set time frame (one always wants to make the most of these things, no?!) only to find the place deserted. In fact, it was so quiet, we actually wondered if we were too early. But on entering the restaurant this time around we were pleased to see a number of tables were already seated, and the DJ was already pumping out the tunes, though happily at a level that allowed conversation to continue easily.

I love the interior of Hakkasan. It’s dimly lit for atmosphere and I like the way the partitions provide privacy and sections within what otherwise would be an enormous, cavernous space. It’s a look I think they like to describe on their website as ‘sultry Shanghai chinois chic’.

There was always the option to go for the a la carte menu, but of course we’d come with brunch in mind so didn’t deviate. Previously we found the brunch to be more of a set menu with a choice of pricing options befitting which type of beverage package you choose to go for. Though now with the revamped offering, there is a choice of set menus, but also an all you can eat crispy duck pancake buffet section, and a dessert station.

In terms of the packages there’s three options – the soft drink option, the alcohol option with wine, cocktails and beer and finally a premium package with champagne and champagne cocktails. There’s also two set menus to choose from, one for the soft drink and alcohol package, and a premium menu selection for the champagne package.

If you like Cantonese food and want the very best, there’s just no beating Hakkasan.

Hakkasan cocktails have a reputation as being some of the best in the city, and they certainly didn’t seem to disappoint – we noticed many of the people at tables around us were partaking in the brunch punch and signature Pink Mojitos.

As for the food, Hakkasan never fails to impress. After scoffing down a plate of crispy duck pancakes, the starter plates of dim sum started arriving faster than I could photograph them for you! From steamed wonton, wagyu beef dumpling, wagyu beef truffle puff (my favourite!) to crispy prawn and foie gras sauce and more, each mouthful was met with delight, and disappeared from the table quickly. And that was just the standard menu.

Following on from the dim sum after a short break to digest came the main course where we were presented with stir-fry black pepper rib eye, steamed wild prawn in chilli sauce and stir fried sugar snap peas.

As for the premium package menu, the meal got off to a theatrical start with apple wood smoked Peking duck. I won’t spoil the spectacle for you, you’ll just have to try it to see how it’s presented to the table for yourself. But it’s safe to say it was delicious. If you like crispy duck then you’ll love this, and it’s a great example of Hakkasan putting their own twist on a classic dish and taking it up a notch.

Although both menus are up to the usual impeccable Hakkasan standard, for those who like the finer things in life, the premium package is not to be missed. I personally found the standard menu more to my own tastes, but my husband loved the matching of caviar to the crispy duck and the other touches on the premium menu that make it that little bit extra special.

Of course, the meal wouldn’t have been complete without dessert, and despite having very little room left at this stage, we somehow managed to force down the entire selection from one of those circular displays!

The brunch menu is priced at (all taxes included) Dhs318 per person with unlimited non-alcoholic cocktails and soft drinks, Dhs438 per person for unlimited punch cocktail, wines and house beer and Dhs678 per person for unlimited champagnes (there’s a choice), signature cocktails, wines, sake and house spirits and beers. And although it’s not strictly all you can eat aside from the crispy duck station and desserts, you’d be hard pushed trying to eat anymore anyway as both menus already consist of more than enough food! It is a little on the expensive side, though it does compares well with the price of many other brunches around the city, particularly when you consider the exceptional standard  of the food and the choice of drinks on offer (most notably in the premium Champagne package).

All in all we were very impressed and thoroughly enjoyed the meal. We were undoubtedly very well fed and watered and it was good to see such attentive service. The drinks flowed well which is a priority for me at a brunch and there was a great upbeat atmosphere around the place. It was great to see the place really buzzing with a varied mix of clientele from couples, large groups and even families with children present. The bottom line is that the Friday brunch (midday to 4pm) is an excellent meal in a high-end restaurant with a sophisticated, lively atmosphere. If you like Cantonese food and want the very best, there’s just no beating Hakkasan. 

There’s also a lovely outdoor area which is great for a pre / post dinner drink when the weather is right.

To find out more and book visit the Hakkasan website.

Friday brunch review: a trip to Hakkasan, the outstanding Michelin starred modern Cantonese cuisine in Abu Dhabi.

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