Summer In The City | HKK’s Xiao Shu And Da Shu Menu, 88 Worship Street, London
One of our standout meals over the years was the incredible 10-course Chinese New Year celebratory menu at Michelin starred HKK. So when we found out that the restaurant by the Hakkasan group and chef Tong Chee Hwee had launched a Xiao Shu and Da Shu tasting menu, we downed tools (well our mouse) and skipped down to Worship Street for some summer lovin’.
HKK‘s new eight-course journey is inspired by the 24 terms of the ancient Chinese solar calendar, taking inspiration from the solar terms Xiao Shu meaning ‘lesser heat’ and Da Shu meaning ‘great heat’ marking the transition from spring to summer. In China when the sun starts to shine there’s an emphasis on eating cooling foods with a focus on revitalising the body’s energy and spirit, sounds pretty sensible to us.
In the summer months seafood is at its best – filled with nutrients to help keep the body healthy during these hotter days. So it’s no surprise that HKK‘s summer menu showcases a variety of seafood dishes, including seared scallops and (my favourite) chargrilled octopus.
The menu at HKK really shows off chef Tong’s extraordinary talent for presenting complex regional Chinese dishes with modern flair, freshness and vitality – and believe me when I say they taste just as stunning as they look. He (and his kitchen staff) have skills, the technique and knowledge is without doubt. But what really impressed us was the flavour combos, some as delicate as duck down and some as obvious as a smack around the face by a giant panda.
I opted for the Xiao Shu and Da Shu Menu (£93.88) with the Alcoholic beverage pairing (£58), whilst Saff went veggie with the Xiao Shu and Da Shu Vegetarian Menu (£83.88) paired with the non-alcoholic orchard Flight (£28). It’s not that Saff doesn’t like a drink, it’s just that the last time she had a wine flight she ended up missing breakfast. The Orchard Flight had a very interesting mix of juices, herbs and bitters for Saff to try.
(Ade) Chargrilled octopus with cherry tomato, smoked sea salt, cinnamon sauce. By far my favourite starter, the cinnamon sauce added a real depth of flavour to the salty octopus. Paired with Dewatzakura Izumi Judan, Ginjo, Yamagata – an extremely dry sake make in the north of Japan utilising its pure water source (some say the purest in the world)
(Saff) Sesame bun with yam, mango and lychee. Saff really rated this soft, black, pillowy steamed bun (stamped with the chef’s ‘signature’) filled with lightly poached batons of fruit. Paired with Saffron tonic – we assume they don’t pair every drink to the actual diner. A slightly less bitter tonic water (due to its reduced quinine content) is strained over Saffron and grapefruit essence.
(Ade) Langoustine and mushroom soup, served with a spoonful of dry scallop, truffle and Japanese yam which I stirred into the soup just before eating. A beautiful comforting bowl of soup that is worthy of the eight hours that it’s simmered for. Paired with a 2015 Muscadet Sévre et Maine Sur Lie Domaine de la Pépiére Loire, France.
(Saff) Black truffle and mushroom soup with date, yellow bean and water chestnut. Imagine the best mushroom soup that you’ve ever bought and multiply that by a hundred – then you’ll be close to just how good this is. Paired with pear, ginger and tonka bitters.
(Ade) Da Shu dim sum trilogy: scallop and white asparagus, langoustine and bamboo shoot, label rouge chicken and foie gras. All three were perfectly cooked but the chicken and foie gras offering was incredible – the filling wrapped in a beautiful black and gold pastry-esque shell, like a mini luxury chicken pie. Paired with Benjamin and Bloom Oolong tea with Hibiki Harmony whisky. The oolong tea is cold brewed in Scotland and HKK are one of the few restaurants in the UK to serve this ingredient.
(Saff) Da Shu dim sum vegetarian trilogy: lily and shiitake mushroom, Chinese chive and yam bean, pumpkin and pine. Again all were fab (although the mushroom dim sum was a slippery little sucker) but it was the ‘mini pie’ texture of the pumpkin and pine that won Saff over. Paired with melon, celery and cucumber – an unusual combo that really worked, so refreshing.
(Ade) Signature cherry wood Peking duck. If you’ve never tried HKK’s signature dish before then you’re missing our. The glossiest crispy duck skin, moist breast, shredded leg wrapped in a black sesame pancake, organic cane sugar and a big smear of plum sauce. Crispy skin + plum sauce + sugar = heaven. Paired with a 2014 Kalecik Karası, Kayra Denizli-Ankara – this Turkish wine’s grapes have thicker skin (due to the hotter growing conditions) and therefore more tannins. A big bold wine, served chilled, to compliment the duck.
(Saff) Crispy chia seed roll – Saff loved the texture of the chia seed roll but I could tell she only had eyes for my cherry wood Peking duck and who could blame her. Paired with Cardamom and pear – such a comforting combination, she reckoned it tasted like Christmas (she says that a lot) whilst it reminded me of a fruit crumble.
(Ade) Seared scallop with XO sauce served with on salted egg yolk with lychee and topped with shrimp roe. The crispy, salty bacon wrapped around the scallop sat perfectly with the soft, sweet poached lychee – this dish is all about opposite flavours and textures. Paired with a 2013 Riesling ‘Vanderberg’ Tatomer Santa Barbara, California. A unique bone dry white wine with sweet notes (due to its late harvest).
(Saff) Wu Hung pagoda – a mini tower of chow-chow melon, yam and broad beans surrounded my a moat of smooth, creamy broad bean purée. Again this dish was all about the contrasting texture of the vegetables and skilfully executed it was too. Paired with lemon soda, darjeeling and camomile. Probably Saff’s favourite, not too bitter and not too sweet, so as Goldilocks would say, it was just right.
(Ade) Wagyu short ribs served with a delicious little mooli cake, celtuce (a cross between celery and lettuce) and drizzled with a rich sauce. The quality of the wagyu beef was undeniable – it simply melted in the mouth. I could have had this dish over and over again. Paired with a 2012 Saint-Joseph ‘Lieu-dit’, E.Guigal Rhone Valley – an intense French red wine with notes of dark fruits and spice.
(Saff) Five Forms of Deity – an intricate row of lotus root, carrot, asparagus and beetroot shaped and stood on end. The different heights and shapes of these vegetables resembled a cityscape. Although it looked fantastic, it was pretty much roasted veg with no flavour excitement. Paired with Guava, elder flower, pomegranate and Van Gosh absinthe. Quite a complicated drink where the absinthe essence (which is booze-free) really shone through.
(Ade and Saff) Compressed watermelon served with a dense kaffir lime cream, watermelon jelly and a standout mint sorbet – so fresh that it makes your tongue tingle. Paired with a 2015 Moscato D’Asti, Piedmont, Italy – a sweet slightly sparkling white wine with a ABV of just 5.5%. Saff’s was paired with Pineapple, apple and lime – a simple drink that complimented the mint sorbet perfectly.
(Ade and Saff) Longevity peach – a visually stunning miniature peach formed of a white chocolate shell filled with a burnt honey mousse and served with cubes of poached peach and a zingy lemon thyme curd. Paired with a 2011 Torcolato Macullan (Vespaiola grape) Veneto, Italy. A gorgeous sweet dessert wine with hints of raisins and honey. Saff’s strawberry, thyme and orange – a really lovely mix and not too sweet.
That was the end of our epic Spring to summer menu and boy was it epic. Now this meal wasn’t cheap, especially when you take the paired beverage flight – remember this is a Michelin starred restaurant whose kitchen is run by some pretty skilled chefs. Yes, this definitely falls into our ‘special occasion’ bracket but I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed by the venue – the friendly and knowledgeable staff and (most importantly) the food. We’ve been to HKK twice and both times we were blown away by the quality of the cooking. Roll on their next special tasting menu, then we can make it a hat-trick.
The solar menu inspired by the Xiao Shu and Da Shu seasons will be available until 8th October.
Visit their website here
88 Worship Street Broadgate Quarter,
London EC2A 2BE
Telephone: +44 (0)20 3535 1888
Book a table online
Monday – Friday: 12 noon – 2.30pm
Saturday: 12 noon – 3pm
Monday – Saturday: 6pm – 10pm
Nearest station: Liverpool Street Station (5 mins walk) or Shoreditch High Street (9 mins walk)
We ate as guests of HKK, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.