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28/F, One Peking Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong,
Tel. +852 3428 8342

Food type: Chinese (Northern Chinese)

Food rating: 7/10

Nearest tube:Tsim Sha Tsui

Website: Hutong
The weather in Malaysia has been blistering hot the past couple of days, exarcebating my headache. The past couple of days has been a bit manic with me doing some last minute shopping before I head back to London this weekend.

One Peking Road – a galaxy of eateries

Hong Kong Island at Night

One of the restaurants I was most looking forward to dine at in Hong Kong was Hutong. Hutong is located in the posh shopping area of Tsim Sha Tsui on Kowloon island. Situated on the 28th Floor of the One Peking Road building, the restaurant offers a spectacular view of Hong Kong island, assuming that weather is favourable of course.

Hutong in mandarin translates to an ancient alley lined with courtyard houses. The restaurant itself is decorated to resemble a Hutong, with plenty of bird cages and granite walls. There was however nothing ancient about the food here. In fact, the cooking here utilizes modern techniques utilized in European cooking married with the ingredients and ideas of Chinese cooking to create a new take on traditional dishes. Such avant garde cuisine is indeed risky as when done wrong, threatens to disrupt the harmonious balance of colour, aroma, texture and taste which is the hallmark of Confucius food that Chinese cooking is derived from.

Bamboo Clams steeped in Chinese Rose Wine & Chilli Sauce

With 4 of us dining, we started off dinner with some appetisers. The menu offers a wide variety of unique items including pig’s throat and shark lips to name but a few. The first starter was an interesting dish of Bamboo Clams steeped in Chinese Rose Wine & Chilli Sauce. Bamboo clams (or Razor clams as they are commonly referred to in the UK) is one of my favourites because of its unique texture and sweet, juicy flesh. The clams here were gently steeped in wine which retained all its lovely juices. The timing of the cooking was correct, without a hint of chewiness. However, I felt that the use of Chilli sauce (and don’t get me wrong – this is bird’s eye chilli) more than generous sprinkling of raw garlic simply overpowered the sweetness of the clams… not to mention will scare Dracula away for months on ends. (2/10)

Crispy & Drunken Pigeon

Better was our second starter which was a Crispy & Drunken Pigeon. Pigeon is a speciality item in Hong Kong with Sha Tin (an area J lives close to) famous for roast pigeon. I cannot run out of superlatives to describe how magnificent both renditions of the pigeon were. The crispy pigeon had skin so crisp you could be forgiven for thinking you were eating potato crisps yet the flesh was nice, pink and moist, the way roast pigeon should be. The Drunken Pigeon was equally satisfying, with a subtle hint of chinese wine flavouring the pigeon. (9/10)

Scallops with Fresh Pomelo

Our final starter – Scallops with Fresh Pomelo – draws its inspiration from Latin-American cooking. Thin slices of raw scallops were marinated with pomelo juice, with the citric acid ‘cooking’ the scallops – a cooking technique referred to as Ceviche. (For those of you interested in molecular gastronomy, the citric acid denatures the protein in the seafood). The scallops were served with a generous helping of bitter-sweet pomelo pulp which complimented the sweetness and freshness of the scallops. A small amount of ground black pepper accompanied the pomelo which lent some bite to an otherwise simplistic dish. (6/10)

Crispy De-boned Lamb Ribs in Hutong Style

The first main course is a signature dish at Hutong – Crispy De-boned Lamb Ribs in Hutong Style. The lamb ribs here are reconstructed to mimic roast pork belly (siu yuk) although you can be assured that it does not taste anything like that. In fact, such was the artistry of this dish, it would not have surprised me if it had come from a French kitchen. With perfectly crisp crackling, and a good balance between fat and meat, this was indeed a melt-in-your-mouth experience. (8/10)

Stir-fried Squid with Sea Urchin

The region of Puglia in Italy is well known for using Sea Urchin as a sauce for their pasta. Our next main course – Stir-fried squid with Sea Urchin, draws heavily from that idea. Here, squid which has an inherently neutral and subtle flavour is used to add texture to the rich, sea urchin sauce. Such a dish is challenging from a timing perspective as there is a danger of overcooking either the squid or the sea urchin which was not the case here. (7/10)

Braised Beef Ribs wrapped in Lotus Leaf

Next up was Braised Beef Ribs wrapped in Lotus Leaf. The beef ribs were brought to the table still wrapped in lotus leaf and deboned by our waiter. Not much of effort was required to debone the beef ribs though as the meat was so tender it was literally falling off the bone (no pun intended). The meat was soft, yet succently with the fragrance of the lotus leaf. The cooking juices were used to make two different sauces – a spicy and non-spicy gravy. (7/10)

Stir-fried Asparagus with Salted fish

A simple plate of Stir-fried Asparagus with Salted fish was our vegetable course. The asparagus tips were carefully trimmed of any woody (and fibrous bits) and delicately flavoured with some home-made salted fish, which were not overly salty. (6/10)

Hutong Style Fried Rice with Shrimp and Fennel Seeds

Lastly, a bowl of Hutong Style Fried Rice with Shrimp and Fennel Seeds completed our main course. The fried rice was a huge disappointment. While good quality rice was used, and no sign of any greasiness was noted, the rice was unfortunately way too spicy to the point of being unable to taste anything else. (1/10)

Chilled Mango Pudding served with Mango Milky Sauce

We went for a selection of desserts to be shared. The perennial Hong Kong favourite of Mango pudding was beautifully presented as two fishes and served with a milk sauce flavoured with mango juice. Unlike most mango puddings that I have eaten, the pudding here was nice and soft (a lot of restaurants especially in the UK add gelatin with reckless abandon resulting in a stiff pudding) filled with generous chunks of sweet mango. (6/10)

Home-made Coconut Ice-cream served with Sweet Pears, White Fungi & Coconut Flakes

The Home-made Coconut Ice-cream served with Sweet Pears, White Fungi & Coconut Flakes was one of the more interesting desserts. The coconut ice-cream was served with toasted coconut flakes which lent a nutty edge to the dessert. The white fungi provided a different form of texture to the ‘woody’ coconut flakes which contrasted well with the soft pears. (7/10)

Crispy Apple Finger Rolls

Crispy Apple Finger Rolls, a deconstructed form of Apple strudel completed our meal. The small apple spring rolls were again nice and crisp with just about the right about of apple stuffed inside. The finger rolls were served on a bed of cinammon sticks (no… you can’t eat those) and toasted lotus. (6/10)

Dinner at Hutong was a memorable experience from start to finish. Barring one or two dishes (the clams and the fried rice), the food here was of a high and very impressive standard. With a young and rather hip atmosphere and a breathtaking view to boot, this is definitely a place to celebrate a special occassion. Dinner for 4 including a bottle of pretty good wine, and 2 additional glasses of house wine came up to about HK$3,300 including service. While this is certainly not cheap, I feel that the excellence in cooking is well worth the occasional splurge.