Hakkasan: A journey through Asian inspiration
Only three years ago, Hakkasan Group unveiled its upscale riff on Chinese food at the eponymous Hakkasan in MGM Grand. While casual observers may only associate Hakkasan with high-profile DJs such as Calvin Harris playing the club, the casino-level brethren of the Michelin-starred London venue is equally as impressive.
Entering into the space through the grand doorway off the casino floor transports you into a massive, yet inexplicably tranquil, space. Towering ceilings bound a room with seating subdivided by intricate wooden frames interwoven with one another, creating an intimate vibe for each table while still maintaining the overall immenseness of the space. It is a fitting backdrop for the elevated Chinese cuisine the venue delivers on a nightly basis as a complement to the electronic music scene in the nightclub above.
No visit to Hakksan is complete without the crispy duck salad, a dish which is simply divine. A quarter-duck dried with five spice and oyster sauce is gently breaded and flash-fried, delivering an exquisitely crisp skin wrapping around succulent fowl. Tossed with pomelo wedges, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts in a leafy green salad, the dish offers a myriad of textures and flavors in each bite. It is a destination dish worth the visit alone.
But when you’re at Hakkasan, you’ll be eating more than salad. Your favorite waterfowl makes another appearance in the form of crispy roasted duck. Served in a sharp Chinese mustard sauce and accented with tart kumquat, this duck dish also delivers an impeccably crisp skin swaddling juicy meat. And elsewhere from the land, stir-fry black pepper beef ribeye with merlot delivers spiciness melded with complex, red wine-based sauce. Pair it with a side of fried rice—the chicken and salted fish rendition is extraordinary, but the egg and scallion version may be more familiar—to serve as a foil to an otherwise hearty offering.
As grand as the dining is, Hakkasan’s cocktail program is equally as memorable, making admirable use of Asian ingredients. Remarkably balanced, the Buddha’s Palm mixes Buffalo Trace bourbon with Velvet Falernum, yuzu juice, marmalade and black grapes effortlessly in a cocktail found only at the Vegas Hakkasan. And in a play on a classic, the Blood & Sand combines Dalmore 12-Year Scotch with Cherry Heering in standard fashion, gilding the lily with Aragoshi Umeshu plum liqueur and blood orange juice. But the pièce de résistance is finishing the drink with an infusion of smoke from Grand Mariner-soaked wood chips, endowing it with even more smoky “sand” flavor.
If you’re not too full, then meander through the dessert menu to the housemade macarons. Once again, Asian influences are unveiled in a dish not native to the Far East. Flavors rotate regularly, but on a recent visit, citrusy calamansi—the offspring of the mandarin orange and kumquat common in the Philippines—and yuzu were options alongside s’mores and even violet. The unexpected flavors serve as a fitting endcap to a remarkable meal, reminding us that Hakkasan is just as momentous as it’s ever been.
MGM Grand, 5-11 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 5-11:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sun. 702.891.7888