When duty or devotion bring you to Midtown, it is sometimes necessary to join the carnival of the absurd. Pay the hot nut man $2 to scrape your resin-caked prize from his foggy glass box. Try on some hats at Lids. Order a bowl of $14 black sesame and chocolate dessert dumplings from Hakkasan.
Conveniently located across the street from LOL New York on West 43rd near 8th Avenue, Hakkasan is the fancy Chinese restaurant that lives in action movies and the minds of out-of-towners. Tables are arranged around a byzantine maze of a floor plan steeped in High '90s elegance with H.R. Giger accents. Tiny plates of food are $30. The wait staff speaks loudly and faultlessly with the practiced lilt of Fine Dining, Inc.
Has headquarters changed anything since Pete Wells' delightfully devastating one-star review in 2012? Hell no. The safe menu, exorbitant prices, and whiff of intrigue are all part of the schtick. Squint and those laughing guys in blazers eating an expense account dinner actually just exchanged briefcases containing cash and a deadly virus that will destroy America's lobster population. JCVD would kill to put his fists through these odd-shaped windows.
But you're here for the dumplings, which arrive on your table in a ceramic-domed bowl, the cover of which is quickly removed with the panache of David Copperfield yanking a curtain off Liberty Island. They are succulent and toothsome, their gentle ginger/yuzu tea broth offsetting the bittersweetness of the chocolate and the earthy hint of sesame.
With a decent glass of Malbec ($12) or Glenlivet ($12) they are an excellent means to process the whirlwind of insanity outside. In three years, it will be all your aunt remembers of her visit. LOL New York, indeed.