| Everyday Restaurants

A Memorable Meal at Hutong and a New Look For Aqua Shard

I was invited to review Hutong at The Shard and our food and drink was complimentary. I was not paid to visit and was not under contractual obligation to write this blog post or create content on any platform. 

As we began to slowly come out of lock down, the smallest things became the biggest luxuries – sitting the park, a walk with a friend, a takeaway coffee. And as the restaurants began to open up, I came to realise I will never take for granted a long lunch or a Sunday brunch again. Being able to return to my favourite places has been the best feeling and last weekend, Mr S and I were able to take Oscar to Hutong at the Shard, one of our favourite Chinese restaurants. 
Socially distanced, sanitised and with the menu being read through a QR code, all the Covid safety measures are in place but the strict measures certainly don’t dampen the atmosphere – it’s just great to have restaurants bustling with life again. Hutong is located on the 33rd floor of the Shard and is a feast for the eyes with panoramic views of city, stunning wood carved interiors, Chinese lanterns and a wishing tree.

Taking our window seat we got ready to place our order. The dim sum at Hutong really is unmissable and we ordered the Lobster xiao long bao – a dumpling filled with a delicious piquant soup which pops in the mouth!

The mushroom buns weren’t something that I would have thought to order but I’m glad we did as they were incredible. So fluffy and delicious.

My final recommendation for the starter is the crispy prawn rolls. Some of the best I’ve ever had. While there’s no children’s menu per se, the staff were really accommodating for Oscar and he noshed on sea bass and asparagus prepared without salt for him.

The crispy duck at Hutong is something very special, served with the requisite plum sauce, cucumber and pancakes but elevated to the next level. The duck is marinaded for twenty four hours and then roasted in the restaurant’s special oven in order to ensure the perfectly crisp skin, if you order the whole duck it’s carved table side. Oscar tried a pancake roll and really enjoyed it too!

The rest of the duck is served as a minced side dish to be wrapped in lettuce which is such a tasty way to enjoy it! Our final dish was one I’ve had a few time before and it’s just so delicious especially for lovers of spice. The Red Lantern is not for the faint hearted and is made up of crispy soft-shell crab with Sichuan dried chilli – not only is it delicious but it looks impressive on the table and its fun to search for the crab among the chillies.

Finally dessert is delicious and refreshing – a mango pudding and a chocolate tart both served with a zesty mango sorbet!

This was my first time dining at the Shard since lockdown but it was also one of the last places I visited before the lockdown was put in place.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to a preview of the fully refurbished Aqua Shard just before restaurants closed. And when I see how little Oscar is in these photos, it just underlines to me how long we were in lockdown and how much we missed!

The refurbishment at Aqua Shard is gorgeous and I particularly love the bar with the hanging crystals.

As well as these chic-yet-cosy booths!

But the interior design remains pared down so that nothing takes away from that incredible panoramic view.

Aqua Shard have a great value market lunch which focusses on ‘forgotten’ British dishes researched by food writer and broadcaster Matthew Fort and curated along with Executive Chef Anthony Garlando. The menu changes but at the times of eating (back in February!) I tried the following excellent dishes:

Asparagus with hen’s egg.

Poached Cornish skate wing.

With chicken breast and aubergine being the other options on the menu.

And my dessert was lemon posset with marmalade and Scottish shortbread.

A meal somewhere like the Shard will always be memorable, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget these two meals – one just before we went into lockdown and one just after.

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