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A unique tasting we were invited to attend at Hakkasan Abu Dhabi
Did you know about the Hakkasan ritual around the world called Hakkasan’s “Tuesday Tasting”?
Well, on Tuesdays, the Hakkasan sommeliers gather to taste current and potential wines usually accompanied by items from the Hakkasan menu to ensure a harmonious tasting experience.
Conscious of the growing interest of customers in tea and food pairing, the team has just introduced ‘tea tasting’ as all Hakkasan restaurants carry a wide range of tea-from about a dozen varieties in Abu Dhabi to almost 20 in Los Angeles.
We received an invitation to attend this exclusive and intimate tea and food pairing event in Abu Dhabi with Christine Parkinson, the Group Head of Wine for Hakkasan, who travels once a year to the Middle East, and of course we were eager to join and learn.
How does it work then?
Comfortably settled in the private dining room with Christine, Ivano Guastella and Olivier Gasselin, the General Manager of Hakkasan Abu Dhabi and Head of Wine Middle East and Asia, three different teas were chosen on our tasting night: Silver Needle from China, High Mountain Tie Guan Yin from Taiwan and Anxi Tie Guan Yin, a roasted tea from China.
The dinner menu was divided into four different types of dishes from mild, savoury, sweet and spicy with two different items to experience in each category.
For each dish we tasted, we had to give a mark on a bespoke sheet designed for these in-house tastings as the whole process is then shared within the Hakkasan restaurants to help them capitalize their knowledge.
We were of course quite intimidated to share our personal insight but were thankful to have been part of this unique experience and learn from the debrief the Hakkasan team shared with us.
The lessons learnt
First, we were extremely surprised to discover how the three teas could enhance – or not- the flavors of a dish. Vice-versa, some items helped us discover and better appreciate some teas, especially with savoury dishes such as the black truffle roasted duck.
The light Silver Needle white tea was just perfect with the Hakka steamed dim sum platter and the flavors of the scallop exploded in our mouth.
This was also the occasion to discover new items such as the lime chicken with Kumqat that really rocked when paired with the High Mountain Tie Guan Yin.
After this tasting, we better understand the saying Christine started the session with: “Food chooses the tea”. We also realized how challenging such an event is for the sommeliers as all teas require a millimetric infusion timing and temperature serving, so the dinner was a non-stop sommelier ballet with tea cups being prepared and refilled. It all comes down to passion and savoir-faire.
To end the dinner on a sweet note, we loved tasting the macaron collection, especially the honey golden macaron topped with golden flakes, a temporary creation designed to celebrate the Golden Chinese week.
The Hakkasan Tuesday Tasting
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi
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