Hutong has long been on my go-to list of restaurants in Hong Kong, popping up on my radar for places to try again and again. First of all, it boasts views of the 852 for days – breathtaking. Second, forget the top of the ICC – One Peking is very accessible as a prime location to fall in love with Hong Kong’s skyline while you dine in style.
The elegant space is filled with vintage Chinese touches such as traditional wooden chairs and paper lanterns. The new Moon Gate bar, which is now part of the restaurant, is most impressive. A 70-year-old handcrafted birdcage sits from floor to ceiling, with a bar inside where Chinese-inspired cocktails are prepared. The lounge was formerly a private dining space, but it’s now an intimate area where guests can enjoy pre-dinner cocktails.
The first dishes that landed on the table weren’t so Northern Chinese, which is how Hutong’s cuisine is described, but the long plate of seared Hokkaido scallops with sesame sauce ($208 for 2) and the Alaskan crab and shrimp spicy salad ($238) made us want to dive right in. The scallops were huge, almost the size of the palm of my hand, and were tender in texture with a slight crunch. Surprisingly one of Hutong’s signatures, the salad was also unforgettable, becoming a favourite of the evening.
The aromatic Peking duck ($378 for ½ duck; $748 for whole duck) was eagerly anticipated. Served in the traditional manner, perfectly juicy, tender meat was presented on a plate alongside a separate plate of crisp, if slightly greasy, skin. The soft wraps, cucumber and hoisin sauce created the perfect harmony of sweetness.
The braised chicken and mushroom with Chinese wine in clay pot ($318) was not only great entertainment with its enticing sizzle, but deliciously salty and comforting. This was served with fluffy egg-white fried rice with crab and green asparagus ($198), which was also great on its own.
The yu-shiang tiger prawns in salty fish and garlic-chilli sauce ($378) was on the spicy side, while the flaky steamed cod fillet with black garlic and chilli ($538) was mild in taste. Our only vegetable dish of the night, the spicy diced pork with string beans and fennel seeds ($188), wasn’t overly salty (usually this dish is super salty), but it lacked the requisite spice and crunch.
The lava chocolate crispy rice dumplings ($98) shaped as oranges were delicious and not too sweet. These dumplings were served with complimentary mooncakes, which, unfortunately, were too dry, and the chocolate taro paste inside was too thick. However, the oolong tea ice cream ($65) was perfect, reigning as the most delectable finish for the evening.
The use of chilli is unique to the cocktails at Hutong’s Moon Gate bar. Some of the cocktails were too sweet for me, but I could tell that the use of sugar syrup was an attempt to overpower the spicy chilli taste of the drinks.
For the launch, three cocktails created in partnership with Johnnie Walker Black Label were served, but this seemed unnecessary and unoriginal. The whisky cocktails weren’t well balanced and consistency lagged. My Emperor’s Tea ($148), made with Double Black, jujube syrup and lemon juice, was too strong and smoky to drink, and my highball ($128) was watered down and too bitter for my taste.
The Chinese Lantern ($228), one of Hutong’s signature cocktails, stood out, perfect with its mix of Veuve Cliquot champagne to give an effervescent and tart edge, a splash of Aperol for colour and smoothness, mandarin passion fruit juice and plum bitters, which provided a clean blend of citrus flavours.
I also recommend the silky-smooth Comfortably Numb ($138), but – beware – it’s pretty spicy and sweet.
I applaud Hutong for its generous portions compared to other high-end Chinese restaurants that serve small dishes for quite a hefty amount of cash. I can see why people rave about this restaurant; it’s the perfect place to bring friends from out of town or for special occasions. Even though some of the cocktails and dishes were a bit hit-and-miss, overall Hutong offers traditional yet sophisticated Northern Chinese cuisine. And did I mention those views?
28/F, One Peking, 1 Peking Road, TST, 3428 8342, book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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