There’s nothing quite like dining with a view and there really can be no substitute for eating incredible food in London’s tallest building. I fell in love with the food at Hutong at The Shard last year when I finally snagged a reservation for a double date with Lauren and Andy and this time I was excited to return to sample some of the new dishes on the menu from Head Chef Fei Wang.
Our table for the night in the restaurant’s private dining room felt like it was floating among the clouds with views of so many of London’s landmarks from the Level 33 location. With a glass of Veuve Cliquot poured, I caught up with some of my favourite bloggers and Instagrammers all there to sample the exciting new dishes.
Hutong sets itself apart from most other Chinese restaurants in London, incredible location aside – the food is slightly different too. Rather than focussing on Cantonese food, the menu features dishes from further North such as Shandong, Peking (Beijing) and Fei Wang’s home province of Sichuan. He’s actually from Cheng du – where the pandas are!! Our dinner tonight was to be a gastronomic tour of Northern China with a pinch of spice from Sichuan, a dash of vinegar from Shandong and some of the iconic dishes from the Imperial palaces of Peking.
Whilst admiring the view of the Thames and London Eye we got started on some canapés – aren’t those delicious hors d’oeuvres always the best start to a Chinese feast.
Vegetarian spring rolls filled with mushrooms and cabbage were served alongside crispy prawn rolls with mixed vegetables.
Regular readers will know of my dim sum obsession and Hutong serve some of the best in London. I’ve tried both of these before but I once again very much enjoyed the cod and seaweed dumpling with tobiko and the tiger prawn with black truffle. Eating dim sum always reminds me of our trip to Hong Kong, which is actually the home of the original Hutong and parent company Aqua Restaurant Group. In Hong Kong there’s a whole collection of restaurants owned by the group – there’s even a boat which I’ve sailed on – while London is home to sister restaurants Aqua Shard, Aqua Kyoto and Aqua Nueva.
I’m a huge fan of the London restaurant’s interior with it’s chic dark wood and red lanterns, at the centre is the wishing tree. It’s a representation of the famous Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees in Hong Kong where traditionally red papers containing wishes are tied for Chinese New Year.
As we settled down at the table it was time to meet Head Chef Tei Wang who has recently taken the helm in the kitchen. At only 36 he has reached the heights of ‘Sifu’, the Chinese word for master, a title he has gained through years of training and positions at Sichuan Hotel, Huayuan Hotel and as head chef at Hong Yun restaurant.
Kicking off with Chinese asparagus heart, a dish that appears deceptively simple. This vegetable was seasoned with chef’s signature ‘hula dressing’ a delicious punch of chilli, peppercorn and hot oil that was intense in flavour whilst still be light. Pan fried buns were light and fluffy with just the right amount of crispiness and filled with the very finest wagyu beef.
One of my favourite dishes of the night were the scallop and prawn wontons in delicious hot and spicy sauce. Sichuan food is generally a complex composition of seven flavours: sour, pungent, hot, sweet, bitter, aromatic and salty – I think these wontons hit everyone of those notes, coupled with the finest of casing and beautifully cooked seafood, they were an absolute winner.
You simply can’t come to Hutong without having the roast Peking duck which is renowned in London. They take preparation super seriously here and the duck is marinaded for twenty four hours and then roasted in the restaurant’s special oven. This process ensures the perfectly crisp skin that Hutong’s duck is known for – Mr S had serious envy as this is one of his all time favourite dishes and of course it was served with the much loved pancakes, and hoisin sauce.
Now I do have to say I’m not much of fatty meat eater and I personally found it a bit too much juicy fat, but that is purely personal taste and I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority on that one.
Trying the new dishes on this fantastic new menu was also a real lesson in Chinese cookery I’ve never been myself but I would love to especially given how much the cuisine can vary from province to province. A special frying technique key to Sichuan is used in several of the new dishes at Hutong and it gives a fantastic texture to this delicious lobster dish. This was another favourite around the table with everyone relishing the crunchy shellfish and the spicy chilli balanced with salty black beans. I really liked the presentation here and if chilli is your thing I’d also recommend another one of Hutong’s signature dishes, the red lantern with soft shell crab.
One of the great things about this place is that you can watch the London skyline darken as the summer evening turns to night and just fall in love with this beautiful city all over again. Oh, and don’t miss the loos here, perhaps the best ‘loo with a view’ in London!
I guarantee that this heart-warming soup will tick all the right boxes and a rare silence descended around our table as we slurped our noodles from individual bowls. A beautiful salty, spicy broth packed with steamed halibut and red peppers is actually a twist on a lighter South Chinese dish.
Another super spicy dish was the Ma La eel, a dish that might not be be for everyone, but it’s something that I personally love. The name comes from the Chinese characters meaning ‘numbing’ and ‘spicy’, defining how the dish makes your mouth feel – actually a touch of sourness balances the chilli and the eel itself has that same perfect crunchy texture as the lobster.
Finally the beef rib was incredibly tender with the meat just falling apart under our forks.
And as we finished our meal and ordered coffees and cocktails the sun began to dip beneath that those beautiful buildings and the night sky glittered with light.
We had such a fantastic meal at Hutong at The Shard, a restaurant that’s fast become one of my London favourites.
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