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Apr 2, 2012 02:40 PM

Hakkasan - new luxury Chinese restaurant in Midtown

Opening tomorrow.

From NY Times Diner's Journal:

"High-quality ingredients, including seafood that is often sustainably sourced; waitress dressed by Diane von Furstenberg; and a lavish interior are designed to appeal to an international clientele. Prices reach as high as $888 for an entree of Japanese abalone with black truffle; whole suckling pig is $295 and Peking duck with Kaluga caviar is $345."

Restaurant website here:

So.... anyone planning on trying this place anytime soon?


I noticed the menu (linked in the NY Times article) says the following:

"Prices include VAT at the current rate. A discretionary service charge of 13% will be added to your bill."

Basically, the prices include tax and the tip is an automatic 13%? Or maybe it was a mistake and the restaurant was using the UK menu template and forgot to delete that line....

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  1. Ate at the Miami location a couple of months ago. The food was delicious, but the space was over-produced and the prices were ridiculous.

    1. I've got dinner there on friday night. Looking forward to it - Cantonese is my husband's favorite. I'll report back on Monday.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chloes

        I look forward to your report. Hope this is a place that I can take my parents to. Cantonese food in a refined environment is defintely something they'd enjoy if the food is good.

      2. A quote from the article: "Hakkasan is how the West wants to celebrate Chinese food."
        What's wrong with presenting Chinese food as it should be celebrated?

        Sounds like Red Farm on steroids. I can picture the Kaluga cavier but Peking Duck?

        1. i went to the London one about a year and half ago and i disliked it...but open to trying this one if people find it worthwhile...

          1. I've made a reservation and I am going there soon, but god, I hope the 13% won't be that silly 'mandatory service charge' which is not a part of gratuity, meaning we have to pay an additional gratuity on top of that, like Masa.
            The prices already look expensive enough. :)
            It will be interesting for me to compare this place with its London counterpart.

            34 Replies
            1. re: kosmose7

              Hakkasan sounds more like japanese sake, then a chinese name

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                Maybe "Hakka" refers to the Hakka people? No idea what "san" is in this context.

                They probably just wanted to come up with a name that sounded "exotic".

                1. re: Cheeryvisage

                  Yes, the "Hakka" part of the name does refer to the Hakka people. A fair bit of the food served was based on/drawn from Hakka cuisine rather than pure Cantonese cuisine.

                  Also: some tidbits about the current background of Hakkasan (and siblings):

                  1. re: huiray

                    Forgot to mention:

                    The Chinese phrase/name of the restaurant the organization uses and transcribes as "Hakkasan" is "客家人" [(Cantonese)Yale: Haak3 Ga1 Yan4] which literally means "Hakka people" with "Hakka" meaning the subgroup of folks described here: .

                    1. re: huiray

                      How in the world did 人become transliterated as "san"? Or is "san" the pronounciation of 人 in the Hakka language?

                      1. re: Cheeryvisage

                        That's a good question. In Hakka "人" would be pronounced something like "ngin".

                        1. re: huiray

                          Wow, you guys are good! Always find something interesting here.

                        2. re: Cheeryvisage

                          Perhaps it is the original owner being playful - and using the Japanese honorific suffix san?

                          1. re: scoopG

                            scoopG was *exactly* right - in an interview with Straits Times Singapore last year, Hakkasan founder, Alan Yau, did mention that he attached the Japanese honorific "-san" to the back of Hakka (a reference to his Hakka-Chinese roots) in a rather playful manner, and also to reflect his use of Japanese-inspired aesthetics in his restaurants' concept. I couldn't find an electronic copy of that article, but this article from the Mid-Day Guide of Mumbai seemed to have repeated that line:


                            1. re: klyeoh

                              Thanks klyeoh for finding that!

                              1. re: klyeoh

                                Even if this may be the case, "san" is a common word in Chinese and not an indicator of Japanese derivation.

                                It could easily have been Hakka "mountain" (san) 山

                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                  True, "san" could mean mountain - but the name of the restaurant is "客家人". The USAmerican, UK, Middle East and Indian websites (or searches for suitable images of those sites) don't show the Chinese name they use for themselves, but the Canadian website does, ditto the blogspot page for the Vancouver location. (Not unexpectedly so, as it would be in Canada that there would be significantly larger numbers of Chinese folks (and Chinese-speaking and reading) with large disposable incomes as part of the clientele) I very much doubt it would be different at any of the other locations or for the parent organization?

                                  In any case, klyeoh reports that the founder of Hakkasan himself said what he reports in his post, and provides a suitable reference for what Alan Yeo said. Is there a reason that you specifically know about to question that?

                                  1. re: huiray

                                    My post was not to refute klyeoh's post or question the derivation of Hakkasan, it was to point out that "san" does not necessarily = Japanese, especially when "san" is such a common sound in Chinese.

                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                        Does the morpheme "san" exist in the Hakka language? I know Hakka has 15 tones. 山 in Mandarin is shan.

                            2. re: huiray

                              Hakka (or 客家人) really means "guest households" - so named to distinguish them from the "host people" (地人- Běn dì rén) among who they lived in south China. Though they had been around for centuries, it was only in the 18th century that the label Hakka itself began to be broadly used.

                              1. re: huiray

                                its sort of weird that they have alot of stuff that says its hakka so 客家 <blank dish>, hakka food is sort of hard to find and its not like some common cuisine that is all over the place. i wonder if those dishes on hakkasan's menu are actual hakka dishes, ive only been to a hakka restaurant twice i think which was when i lived in asia and the only dish that ive eaten alot of yong tofu which i believe is hakka in origin. i could use some of yong tofu right now, now that im thinking about it

                                1. re: Lau

                                  Well, their "Hakka three treasures in black bean sauce with tofu, aubergine and pepper" (客家煎釀豆腐) under their "Tofu" section would be yong tofu if correctly named. :-) You would presumably get tofu [豆腐], aubergines (chinese-type long-shaped eggplants) and peppers (hopefully chinese-type hot chile peppers) stuffed [釀] with a ground meat/fish/(shrimp) prep, pan-fried [煎] and served with a probably brownish sauce, in Hakka [客家] style.

                                  BTW consider making your own Yong Tau Foo (yong tofu, 釀豆腐) (YTF) - it's not hard, it just requires a little labor. If you look at my avatar carefully you will see a batch of YTF I made myself not that long ago, using seasoned fish paste for the stuffing. I make it from time to time as the mood strikes me.

                                  I think some of the dishes on the NYC menu, at least, are - as I mentioned previously above - drawn from, or based on, some Hakka dishes rather than their being strictly authentic Hakka dishes.

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    I think has been established that Hakkasan is not specializing in Hakka food. The only Hakka spot in the USA that I know of is in San Francisco. NY pals were there last year and it was so delicious that went back for a second meal days later.

                                    1. re: scoopG

                                      One of the stands in Boston's grungy Chinatown food court used to specifically Hakka. But last time i was there was years and years ago when i was in college.

                                      1. re: scoopG

                                        Especially since the chain is now run by an Abu Dhabi conglomerate. I can't visualize much authentic Hakka cuisine (certainly not involving pork) being heavily promoted by such an ownership over simply making money.

                                        1. re: huiray

                                          oh i wasnt saying the menu was mainly hakka, just pointing out whether or not the dishes listed as hakka dishes are actually hakka dishes

                                          from a restaurant catering to the crowd they will be catering to, id be extremely surprised to have it be some authentic hakka restauant haha

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            My guess is the "hakka" used on the menu is a reference to the restaurant name, a la "House Special so-and-so"

                                            1. re: Lau

                                              The place is in Times Square. That's all you need to know.

                                              1. re: Lau

                                                My wife is froma majority-Hakka city in taiwan. The few Hakka home cooked and restaurant meals were really good, and I am not sure I would characterize them as "Catnonese." hakka folks travelled from Korea all the wway down through China and eventually out to Singapore/Taiwan/Indonesia/Malaysia. Accrodingly, hakka food is a bit of a mix. i found a lot of pickled and salted foods. It also seemed a little more noodle-than rice-centric, but my sample size was pretty small.
                                                I did pick up a Hakka cookbook a few years back. again, i see an emphasis on pickles and preserves.

                                                1. re: Westy

                                                  hakka food is definitely different than cantonese food from my experience with it, but i think there is some association b/c there is a big hakka population there

                                                  like technically chaozhou food is guangdong (cantonese) food since its in the same province, but its a totally different food

                                                  1. re: Westy

                                                    I've not read that the Hakka ever originated in Korea. My understanding is north China and that they started migrating south around 500 CE and eventually settled in Fujian and Guangdong. Through centuries of intermarriage and isolated living they gradually developed a distinctive physical appearance and cultural identity based on dialect, cuisine and social practices – they rejected footbinding for example. The Hakka diaspora essentially fanned out from Guangdong’s Mei County. And of course living in Guangdong and Fujian shaped their cuisine.

                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                      Yes, Hakka cuisine as we know it today is largely influenced by their millennia-old settlement in Guangdong and Fujian. Despite distinct differences between those cuisines, there's no denying the cross-influences, etc. Hakka cuisine, as we know it in Singapore or other South-East Asian countries, will have some common dishes with Cantonese and Hokkien cuisine. I've had Hakka, Cantonese and Hokkien friends, even relatives, all claiming certain dishes (like braised pork with yams) as being their own, whilst others attributed those very same dishes to the other dialect groups! Oh, what a mixed-up world we live in :-D

                                                      As for those Korean or Northern Chinese roots, let's leave those to antiquity. After all, going back far enough, aren't all of us Africans? ;-)

                                              2. re: scoopG

                                                The place named in that thread is new(er) but not the only one - grew up in SF eating hakka food. My dad had a long-time fascination with the hakka style bacon clay pot with preserved mustard greens at Ton Kiang (a dish referenced in that thread that triggered my memory). This was before pork belly was as popular as it is today, and the prep involved white-bread sized slices of 10% lean belly, cooked into jiggly submission and so fatty that every time my dad would order it the waiter would send over the manager - with better english - to explain that it was VERY fatty and make sure he knew what he was getting into. every. single. time. I see a similar item on the Hakkasan menu, the "Hakka Pork Belly Clay Pot" - though im far from an authority on hakka food, and it seems to include veg different from the version im familiar with (leek and mushroom), it seems like there could be some actual connection between the menu's use of the term hakka to describe dishes and their origins in hakka food.

                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                  Lots of Fujian Hakka folk in Taiwan, so some Taiwanese places might serve a number of their dishes. But yeah, not specialised as such.

                                        2. re: foodwhisperer

                                          well the CEO did say he is trying to build a Chinese Nobu - so maybe there is a reason for that!

                                        3. re: kosmose7


                                          Re: "Prices include VAT at the current rate. A discretionary service charge of 13% will be added to your bill."

                                          Since we don't have a VAT in the US, as Cheeryvisage commented, it sounds as though they copied this from their London menu.

                                          If it happens that they do include a "discretionary" 13% service charge, you should not feel obligated to leave more than the standard 20% gratuity. So, just add an additional 7% -- presuming, of course, you are pleased with the service you receive.

                                          When my husband went to Masa with our son-in-law and a friend, they considered the 20% "administrative cost" the restaurant added to the bill as the gratuity and did not add anything extra. (I didn't go because I have yet to make my maiden sushi voyage, and our daughter didn't because she can't eat that much sushi.)



                                          1. re: RGR

                                            RGR, thank you so much for your kind advice! That is indeed very helpful! :)

                                            1. re: kosmose7

                                              You're welcome, kosmose! I've never cared much for Chinese food (though I do like soup dumplings). Maybe Hakkasan could change my mind, so I look forward to your review because I value your opinion with regard to Asian cuisine. :)