Hutong is a Northern Chinese inspired restaurant in the Shard building in London Bridge. I’d already visited their sister restaurant Aqua Shard which I loved and also Oblix (a Reiner-Becker restaurant on the 32nd floor) which I didn’t quite love so much, so was excited to complete the set.
The restaurant itself was a rather beautiful one; in the dining room there was a tree at one end and a small glass kitchen at the other with Peking ducks hanging for all to see. There was also a bar and four private dining rooms – it’s an impressively large space. The chairs were a bit weird though as they were difficult to tuck in behind you – but once you were in and looking at the fantastic view it didn’t matter!
The menu ain’t cheap – we’re not talking your local Chinese prices, lets put it that way, but if you come for lunch then a very reasonable sounding dim sum menu is available.
We kicked things off with some with some crispy prawn and asparagus rolls (£5.50) and some shredded turnip cakes (£5.50) which were lovely. The turnip cakes were a real highlight; the sort of things you’d gladly eat never ending amounts of.
The dim sum platter (£15) was a thing of beauty; the little sticky dumplings were filled with scallop and pumpkin, crystal crab meat, vegetable and bamboo pith (bamboo pith?!) and rosé champagne and shrimp, the latter being our favourite. Utterly divine the lot of them!
The Xiao long bao (£6) which are Shanghai-style soup dumplings were heavenly and something I’ve never experienced before. These delicate dumplings were full to the brim with a rich pork stock which burst in my mouth oozing the most delicious flavour imaginable – I’d go back to Hutong for these alone.
Next up was the half Peking duck (£30 – a whole is £58!) where the chef comes to your table to carve it in front of you which was a nice touch. He used a massive cleaver to delicately slice the meat whilst separating the skin. Without doubt it was the best bit of duck I’ve ever popped in my mouth; the meat was so tender and the skin was as crisp as could be. Shoving that into the homemade sticky pancakes smothered with homemade plum sauce was a divine experience.
What was left of the duck was then sent away and came back chopped up with plenty of red onion and served alongside some crisp lettuce to scoop it up. Very nice indeed. We could have done with four pieces of lettuce instead of three though – we had to fight over the last piece!
Something that wasn’t quite so mesmerising was the chilled spiced razor clams (£13). I don’t think I’ll ever like cold razor clams to be honest – there’s just something about their texture that doesn’t appeal. These were steeped in Chinese rosé wine, fresh garlic and chilli dressing and although the flavour was good they were just a bit chewy.
The crispy de-boned lamb ribs (£26) put us firmly back on track. The lamb had been marinated for 24 hours, braised and then deep fried which made the ribs taste as good as they sound! The presentation was great too – they were served on a long wooden plank. I’ve never quite had lamb like it; the fat had crisped up beautifully yet the meat remained soft and tender. Ruddy lovely.
The best thing we ate at Hutong, and possibly ever in my life, was the spicy minced pork with string beans and dried petite shrimp (£10). The tiny brown shrimp gave these humble beans an insanely salty yet totally moreish flavour and a touch of chilli gave a lip tingling heat which I couldn’t get enough of. They were utterly incredible.
We really enjoyed our time at Hutong – it would have been difficult not to. Service was very sweet and friendly and the staff were very knowledgable about the dishes too – which was handy cos’ we didn’t have a clue! Yes, it’s rather expensive but when the food tastes that good you really don’t mind. As we sat there sipping our fresh mint tea, beguiled by the view, we really didn’t want to leave…
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