I last went to Hutong for my 23rd birthday back in March. My sister treated me to a delicious Chinese affair up in the sky, watching on the London as the lights glittered below us. I feel like these are the moments you take with you throughout your life, for the milestones that have been reached and the memorable celebrations.
With many recent visits to The Shard, it was only a matter of time before I had another visit to Hutong. This time it was for a certain new beginning of a talented head chef, Fei Wang. He originally came from Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province. It was an exciting evening where we got a chance to meet the man himself, but also preview some of the newest dishes he was bringing to the Hutong menu.
Let me tell you all something, all of these dishes will completely change the way you think of Chinese food. They are absolutely incredible, each of the dishes are filled with intense flavour, authenticity and are cooked to perfection. Definitely worth a visit once they start being served at the end of July.
We all got together in Hutong’s Beijing private dining room, which overlooked the city in all its glory. The clouds were overhead, but the sun did greet us during our meal. It’s definitely a real treat to dine in a restaurant that has glass panes for walls, because in the summer month the nights are longer and the sunsets are even more glorious.
Veuve Clicquot was being poured, everyone was catching up with one another especially as a few of us had not seen each other for a while. Others, like ‘The Angles’ congregated for a reunion toast – it was a while since we were all together at Bovey Castle.
The waiters brought around a selection of different dim sum before we settled down around the round table for dinner. There was selection of Tiger prawns with black truffle, cod and seaweed dumplings with Tobiko (a type of fish roe), crispy prawn and vegetarian spring rolls. I remember having the vegetarian spring rolls on my last visit and absolutely loved them, so I couldn’t help but have one or two. Keeping enough room for dinner was key, as there was an extensive menu ahead.
We all took our places at the gorgeous black stained table, before we got served 2015 Spanish Pazo Senorans made with Albariño grapes or delicate 2015 Australian Pinot Noir, Giant Steps.
The first dishes to arrive were the Chinese asparagus hearts with Hula dressing and pan fried wagyu beef buns. I had never had Chinese asparagus hearts before, so it was something new for me. I expected it to be quite soft, but it was quite crunchy with a spicy touch from Fei’s hula dressing which was made with chilli, peppercorn and hot oil.
The wagyu beef buns were fantastic. The parcels were soft and fresh, filled with tender wagyu beef and a concentrated spicy gravy that gave the contents some moisture and flavour. The outside of the parcels had sesame seeds on top that was then friend to give a slightly brown colouration.
Next up was the scallop and prawn wonton with hot and spicy sauce. This was a dish that a few of my friends around me questioned if I would eat. I mean, at the sound of the amount of seafood associated the dish I would normally say no, but you can never truly know until you try it. I did exactly that much to my surprise it was not fishy at all. It was fresh, light, spicy and flavoursome. Perfect!
The Peking duck carving was the the most anticipated and theatrical moment of the evening, where we saw chef carefully carve the duck breast, after it had been roasted beautifully for many hours.
One and a half duck was perfectly carved ready for us to enjoy in the form of duck pancakes. Steaming hot pancakes were served in dim sum baskets. A small helping of the cumber, spring onions, a light drizzling of hoisin sauce before carefully placing a couple of slices of delectable duck to form a delicate pancake. I was definitely in my element!
The Sichuan-style deep fried lobster with fresh red and green chillies, black bean and dried garlic was the dish that followed the pancakes. This was a dish with a lot of seasoning, chillies and flavour. I’ve never seen lobster served like this and it tasted amazing (I know, I did just say that!). The lobster was fleshy and perfectly prepared, I think if I ever eat lobster any time soon, it would have to live up to the expectations of this dish.
The red star noodles were served in a large bowl which was filled with steamed halibut, rice noodles and gong vegetables in a Sichuan broth. The name ‘red star’ comes from how it is served. The red capsicums are reserved in a closed flower shape, before each of the slices is pulled back using chopsticks to form the star. Inside the middle is the spicy marinade which covers the halibut whilst it is immersed in the broth. The broth is ‘tickle your throat’ spicy which I feel would be perfect for a cold winters day, especially with the noodles and vegetables making it filling and healthy too.
One of the last dishes was Ma la crispy eel with Sichuan dried chilli and cumin. The concept behind the ma la was to give you a concept of a numbing sensation in your mouth. I was the most reluctant to try the eel, however I did so anyway. I think I had pushed myself a lot throughout the meal in terms of seafood and did rather well but the eel just wasn’t for me.
The final main dish of the evening was aromatic beef rib braised in lotus leaf. The meat itself came out in one piece, but even then you could see how tender it was after being cooked in the lotus leaf. The waitress then took it again and used a fork to separate the meat, but naturally it fell apart as it was cooked so well. It was then mixed with the spicy sauce it came with before being served. Absolutely divine!
They were served with worked tossed choy sum which is a Chinese leafy vegetable often called Chinese broccoli. It was cooked al dente and it was a light, simple side to accompany the two final dishes.
The new dishes at Hutong are absolutely incredible and are definitely worth another trip, even if you have been recently. You will thank me afterwards!
Until next time…
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