High dining: Chinese restaurant Hutong launches a fifth anniversary menu

Words by
Flora Drummond-Smith

6th July 2018

Marking its fifth anniversary, the Shard’s renowned Chinese restaurant Hutong launches a celebratory menu comprising its best loved-dishes and cocktails

Hutong's crispy soft shell crab
Hutong's crispy soft shell crab

Hutong's crispy soft shell crab

It seems almost unbelievable that The Shard has only been open for half a decade. Sleek and soaring, it is now hard to imagine London’s skyline without it. Marking its five years, award-winning Chinese restaurant Hutong – which opened shortly after the shard itself – has devised a celebratory 10-course menu of small dishes showcasing its most-loved dishes.

Set loftily on the 33rd floor of The Shard, boasting sweeping views of London (weather permitting), Hutong combines authentic Northern Chinese décor with city-slick interiors. A wishing tree hung with hundreds of hopes and desires flanks the entrance to the restaurant, where walls lined with dark latticed wooden panelling (all shipped over from China) are lifted by walls of merry red lanterns and enormous floor-to-ceiling windows. It is here that my guest and I find ourselves nibbling on crispy wedgeising mixture of vanilla, lychee liqueur, fresh chilli, Sechuan pepper, honey and lime, while my guest sips a tropical serve combining Zapaca 23-year old rum with orange Curacao, molasses, grenadine, lime and flowers – before taking our seats to sample the full menu.

Hutong's 5th birthday cocktails
Hutong's 5th birthday cocktails

Hutong's 5th birthday cocktails

First from the kitchen come crumbly brioche-sweet Wagu beef puffs followed by slippery mounds of asparagus heart, dressed with a Hula dressing that slowly builds in fiery heat.

Chinese asparagus heart with hula dressing
Chinese asparagus heart with hula dressing

Chinese asparagus heart with hula dressing

Next is an impressive spread of steamed lobster and truffle dumplings and crispy cod rolls thatched with a crunchy layer of fine vermicelli noodles, while those opting for a vegetarian alternative will enjoy a dish of pale, architectural slices bamboo shoots doused in homemade chilli oil followed by braised mushroom dumplings with black truffle.

Drawing on Sichuan cuisine, many of the dishes on the menu are fish-based and adhere to a complex composition of seven basic flavours – sour, pungent, hot, sweet, bitter, aromatic and salty.

Black truffle and shiitake mushroom buns
Black truffle and shiitake mushroom buns

Black truffle and shiitake mushroom buns

Favourites such as roasted Peking duck and pancakes feature prominently and do not disappoint. Adding a theatrical flourish to dinner, the duck is wheeled out and expertly carved up in front of customers before being served with Hoisin sauce, though those looking for a lighter take on this classic should opt for dollop of treacly honey instead. A dish of deep fried, Sichuan-style lobster festooned with green and red chilli packs a colourful punch, but it is the rich, earthy braised venison – a requested alternative to the lobster – swimming in a Sichuan sauce scattered with waxy curls of dried chilli really wins on the flavour front. The large chunks of slow cooked venison fall to pieces at the touch of a chopstick, while very al dente broccoli keeps the texture play interesting.

 

Peking duck pancakes
Peking duck pancakes

Peking duck pancakes

Following this, a dish of flat pieces of Wagu beef in a salty, hot and sour broth is tasty, packed with umami flavour but perhaps overdoes it on the fresh chilli. Seafood rice with dried salted fish is piqued with ginger but otherwise errs on the blander side, though it pairs very well with the vibrant green, garlicy wok tossed choy sum.

As we tuck into a dainty chocolate tarts and fresh, melting scoops of mandarin sorbet for pudding the sun dips below the horizon, leaving us to admire the twinkling capital. Bright and decadent with a tart twist, pudding, like the rest of the menu chimes the perfect celebratory note.

 

Hutong at the Shard
Hutong at the Shard

Hutong at the Shard

Hutong’s 5th birthday set menu is priced at £88 per person and is available until the end of August. For more information or to book, please visit hutong.co.uk