The setting is utterly dramatic. Particularly at supper time. Floor to ceiling glass panes present guests with one of the finest harbor and city views from the Kowloon side. In a previous life, I once held office on the 60+ storey of the Bank of China Tower in Central, and I think the view from Hutong was significantly better still. The interiors are intentionally very dark, in order to highlight the city nightscape. Chinese furniture, on black surroundings, unusual ceramics, directional halogens, attentive staff, a somewhat unusual fusiony Chinese menu, and you have the makings of a wonderful evening out. For many, this is drop dead touristy, but worth it, if you ask me. And the evening we were there there were a LOT of local residents dining at the surrounding tables, though mostly foreigners. Sometimes we all go out to eat JUST FOR THE FOOD. Other times it is to spend time with friends. Yet other times is for the location. Sometimes, you get all three combined; our dinner at Hutong was the latter.
For dinner, we ordered from an extensive and sometimes bewildering menu. We were at the restaurant early that evening and amongst the first patrons to arrive. So we had to order without the benefit of sneaking peeks at the neighbors food, if you know what I mean. First up, we had a dish of marinated scallops with fresh pomelo. Almost like a scallop seviche or knilaw without the harshness of vinegar, this was soft, rather bland-ish, served cold, refreshing and pleasant. They used Mainland Chinese pomelo which I like much less than our own Filipino pomelos, so while that added a nice touch of sweetness to the dish, it could have been better, as far as I was concerned. MM Flash Rating, 7.0/10.0.
Next up, a totally intriguing sounding dish. Pigs throat with marinated scallions and coriander. What arrived was a cold salad, at first glance, a marvel created by the chef’s knife skills, but the texture of the pig’s throat was almost like squid, and the astringency of the shredded scallions and sharpness or coriander made for a fantastic combination. Many people wouldn’t like this dish, but I loved it. In small doses, it is strong, sharp, bitter, flavorful and yet with the benign softness and odd texture of the pristine white pieces of pig’s esophagus. We didn’t tell The Kid what it was before she tried it. She didn’t like the scallions and coriander, but ate the pig’s throat, though she didn’t take seconds after we told her what it was… MM Flash Rating 8.0/10.0, mostly because of the novelty of the ingredients and the mix of ingredients. Don’t order this if you can’t stomach a LOT of shredded scallions.
We HAD to try the crispy deboned lamb ribs. EVERYONE has been raving about this, sort of like a mixture between Peking Duck Skin with honey roasted peanuts and the strong flavor of lamb… And bizarrely, no ribs… it was de-boned. It was a clever dish, almost created by computerized ranking of what would be an over-the-tip dish (crisp skin, sweetness, saltiness, flavor, etc.)… and it was served with soy, scallions and garlic. I liked this quite a bit, but I would only have one or two pieces as an appetizer, then stop. How they get it crisp on both sides is beyond me. MM Flash Rating 9.0/10.0. (Close up of a single serving up top, serving platter below).
Next up, we had an order of braised prawns with lemongrass. The prawns were skewered on shards of sugar cane and had a corn-starchy sauce with lemongrass and chilis. Definitely a fusiony type dish. the prawns were large, juicy but probably frozen at some point in their journey to the 28th floor. I wouldn’t order this dish again. MM Flash Rating 6.0/10.0.
The wok-fried beef tenderloin was VERY good. Again, a signature abundance of scallions seemed a bit showy and overpowering, but the beef itself was incredibly tender, yet obviously seared on the hottest of woks. The Kid really liked this dish, and so did I. MM Flash Rating 9.0/10.0
For colonic happiness, we ordered a dish of sauteed kale (hard stems of chinese broccoli?) that was superbly executed but nothing extraordinary. It came with chunks of salted fish, that was TRULY salty. MM Flash Rating 7.0/10.0
We also ordered some egg white fried rice that was delicate but “so what?”… Overall it was a solid 8.0/10.0 meal, but the view was so incredibly stunning that I would definitely recommend this place for tourists on a short visit to HK. It was pricey, at say US260 or so for 4, without wine, but again, the food and view were worth it. On the way out, I spied at least six different dishes that I would have ordered if I had known about them earlier, including a whole fish, a leg of lamb, some stir fried dishes, etc. But we were completely full despite the oogling and it was a wonderful evening with a good friend. I have to admit, however, that on the short walk back to our hotel, The Kid and I stopped off at a 7-eleven to buy two Haagen Daz ice creams for dessert. :)