For all of these reasons, and because I had previously been to the Hanway Place branch in London and loved it, it was one of the very first restaurants that Mr Sunshine-to-be and I visited in Doha when I first arrived back in November 2013.
We usually start at the uplit bar, where a complimentary cocktail awaits. I love the look and feel of this intimate space; the extensive liquor selection, lighting and ambience (as well as the well-heeled clientele!) can make you feel as though you could be somewhere very far from Doha, like South Beach or Rio.
And those cocktails. Just wow.
This time around, Rich opted for the The Long Dragon: Sake, Martini Bianco Vermouth, Prosecco, Lime and Ginger Ale.
I adored the innovative mini carafe that it was contained in - look at the way the ice cubes are housed in a little cubby-hole so that they don't melt into your drink! I need one of these in my life.
I was less adventurous and went for my usual order: Hakkasan's signature cocktail, The Hakka. Belvedere Vodka, Sake, Lychee Juice, Lime, Coconut and Passion Fruit come together in a beautiful concoction which is a little legendary amongst Hakka-fans.
From the bar, we were taken to our seats, where we met our waiter, Duleep. In the past, I have found the service at Hakkasan to be polite, yet quite cool and detached, but not this time. Duleep was warm, open and friendly, and we enjoyed a good chat about his home country of Sri Lanka (which you may recall I love). Having him as our waiter somehow made me appreciate Hakkasan all the more.
The decor of the main restaurant is characterised by low lighting and dark woods, with intricately-carved partitions for a more intimate dining experience.
By now, we have come to know the menu almost off by heart, and have some staple favourites. The Crispy Duck Salad with Pomelo, Pine Nuts and Shallot is one of my favourite dishes in the world. The Jasmine Tea Smoked Chicken is delicately flavoured and delicious. And the Black Truffle Roasted Duck is decadent to the extreme.
However, this time we were in the mood for something new.
We started with two starters to share. On the recommendation of our friends Sam and Ami, the Crispy Tiger Prawns with Pandan Leaf, Chilli and Crispy Wheat Flakes.
The prawns were plump and juicy, and contrasted beautifully with the crunchy wheat flakes which reminded me a bit of savoury breakfast cereal with a chilli kick (this is a good thing; I love cereal!).
Our other starter was the Hakka Fried Dim Sum Platter. We usually go for the steamed version of this, but we couldn't resist the look of the perfectly plump fried parcels as they passed us en route to another table.
The Roasted Duck Pumpkin Puff was smooth and rich, the Crispy Venison Puff was crunchy and more-ish...but the piece de resistance was the Wagyu Beef and Mushroom Puff. With a touch of truffle inside its crispy shell, it was a little cushion of deep fried heaven!
Hakky customers (I'm sorry, couldn't help myself, don't hate me!)
Having enjoyed our sharing experience for our starter (and not fought over a single Deep Fried Dim Sum), we decided to continue with a few sharing plates for our mains.
The Grilled Chilean Seabass with Chinese Honey was a dish we'd ordered before, and love for its delicate sweetness, and melt in the mouth flakes.
But the Deep Fried Quail was new.
The outside was crisp, but the Quail inside remained moist and flavoursome, and a hint of chilli gave it the kick it needed.
To tie it all together, we picked our favourite accompaniment, the Hakka Hand-Pulled Noodles.
Rich guzzled his Japanese Asahi beer and for the first time since his daily programme production of the Copa America kicked off a week ago, he was able to properly relax. It's amazing what a good meal and a beer or two can do for morale!
Are you ready for my favourite part of the evening now? Brace yourself. Here it is.
The Chocolate Orange is a glass bowl of cubes of blood orange, pieces of brownie, popping candy and other chocolatey delights, with a scoop of blood orange sorbet. Hot, molten chocolate is poured all over until the milk chocolate lid melts, leaving one chocolate orange mess in the bottom. It is every bit as good as its Doha sister pudding, the Chocolate Around The World at La Mer in the Ritz Carlton.
Thanks for providing us with two spoons to scrape the bowl clean with, Duleep!
What a great way to teach us one of the most important lessons of married life: how to share your most valuable possessions!
I am yet to have a mediocre experience at Hakkasan Doha. Everything to do with this restaurant screams 'wow factor', and if you are in Doha and are yet to visit, I urge you to rectify this ASAP (tonight if possible, because Ramadan is almost upon us!).
I am taking a short break from my fine dining in Doha series for Ramadan, and to, uh GET MARRIED! But I will be back in August with a vengeance, with my very favourite fine dining restaurant of them all. She's a real beauty!
St. Regis Doha,
West Bay Lagoon,
Phone: +974 4446 0170