Before even tasting Hutong’s food or drink, the award-winning northern Chinese restaurant wins you over with its impeccable beauty. Moon Gate Bar, which opened just a few months ago, is no different. From the ornate entryway to the birdcage-like bar and actual birdcages hanging alongside what is undoubtedly one of the best views in the 852, Hutong makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to another world.
Moon Gate Bar is slightly separate from the rest of the restaurant (which was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday night) and is distinctly more intimate and quiet. A peaceful setting such as this seemed perfect for sampling Hutong’s new Spring Elixir cocktail menu. Each cocktail is inspired by traditional Chinese medicine ingredients, designed to cleanse and rejuvenate the mind, body and soul.
We were welcomed with an Amber Awakening ($118). For those who wish to have all the healing properties without the alcohol, this is the drink for you. Made with fresh mango and blended with ginger, honey and lemon and orange zest, this mocktail was more like a smoothie in thickness and was a delightfully refreshing and slightly sour alternative to the alcoholic cocktails.
My personal favourite of the Spring Elixirs was The Yellow Dragon ($158). Tanqueray Gin infused with chen-pi (sun-dried tangerine peel) forms the base of this innovative cocktail creation. Chen-pi is used to heal the throat and respiratory system, and with the smooth finish of this drink, we can see why. Limoncello, yuzu purée, lemon juice, honey and osmanthus flower Chinese sweet wine made the cocktail sweet and slightly creamy, with just the right amount of tartness. The glass was dusted with coriander seeds, which didn’t add too much to the flavour, but they did provide a shiny, golden touch.
I’m a sucker for Sichuan spice, and the martini-style Chuan Energy ($158) definitely helped to satisfy that spice craving. Chuan Energy is made with Ketel One Vodka infused with vanilla, mixed with lychee liqueur and Chinese five spices and shaken with Sichuan chilli, honey and lime juice. Chinese five spices are said to cleanse the body and reduce stress. While not overly spicy, this drink had a pleasant warmth, similar to that of ginger.
Crispy prawn cakes and fried eggplant with fermented beans (left) and duck spring rolls (right)
Cocktail drinking on an empty stomach is rarely a good idea. For the peckish, Moon Gate Bar has a decent snack selection. The duck spring rolls ($148) were deliciously crisp and flavourful, while the fried eggplant with fermented beans ($198) was a true indulgent treat.
There are two other cocktails available on the Spring Elixir menu (not mentioned in the review), and the friendly bar staff are also happy to recommend and craft off-menu cocktails.
Hutong’s Spring Elixir cocktail menu is a refreshingly unique concept that showcases a diverse range of flavours. The cocktails are priced a lot higher than those at your average happy hour, which means that Moon Gate Bar is unlikely to become a nightlife destination. However, with its beautiful drinks and decor and epic views, we highly recommend Moon Gate Bar for out-of-town visitors, special occasions and date nights. We look forward to seeing what cocktail creations they come up with next.
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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