When you think Chinese New Year, Beverly Hills probably doesn’t come immediately to mind. However, with fine-dining Chinese restaurants like New Port Seafood, Mr. Chow, and London import Hakkasan all situated in the area, it’s no wonder the well-heeled are flocking here to commemorate the Year of the Sheep in high style.
Hakkasan could take the lead this Lunar New Year by combining its fashionable modern approach to Chinese cuisine with traditional ceremonies.
Tonight, to kick off its week-long, special Year of the Sheep menu, a lion dance will take place at 8 p.m., summoning in the New Year to a pulsating beat while winding its way through the “cages,” or sections, of Hakkasan’s dining rooms.
As a nod to Hakkasan’s Hong Kong influences, the restaurant is also honoring a tradition that began long ago in Lam Tsuen, Hong Kong, near the Tin Hau Temple. In Hong Kong, people make wishes by writing them down on paper scrolls called bao die and flinging them onto one of two banyan wishing trees. The higher the scroll lands in the branches, the more likely your wish will come true. If your scroll falls, then you were too greedy.
Although you’re not going to find banyan trees in the restaurant, Hakkasan is providing red wish ribbons on which you can write your hopes and dreams, and then hang from latticed wood partitions acting as symbolic wishing trees. All guests ordering the Year of the Sheep menu will also be gifted a traditional red envelope with a surprise inside.
Executive chef Ho Chee Boon’s storied culinary background spans many parts of Asia including Hong Kong. For Chinese New Year, he presents a tasting menu that follows through on the holiday’s promise of good fortune with a boatload of seafood and does it in high-end Hong Kong meets Beverly Hills fashion.
It starts with the “small eats” that include Hakkasan’s elevated dim sum of har gow, scallop shumai, Chinese chive dumplings, and a black pepper duck dumpling. There are also intricately stacked pile of golden fried sea prawns with red chile and curry leaf, all embellished with wisps of fried egg yolk. Lamb comes in the form of a lupin wrap coronated by shaved black truffle.
The main courses include more prawns (this time spicy), stir-fried black pepper rib-eye, and grilled Chilean sea bass in honey, among another dishes. An abalone and dry scallop fried rice concludes this part of the feast.
But if your wish was for a dessert course, then consider it granted and enjoy your kumquat wishing tree made of chocolate, caramelized macadamia nuts, and cocoa rocks. It’s your first wish come true in the Year of the Sheep.
Hakkasan Beverly Hills, 233 N. Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, 310-888-8661, The Year of the Sheep Signature Menu is $138.88 per person and available for parties of two or more. It runs for about a week, call ahead for availability.