A Hong Kong titan opens but will regional Chinese cuisine be a hit in Dubai?
Chinese restaurants in Dubai are a dime a dozen, and while we love a dim sum and roast duck feast, most of the menus are interchangeable.
You know the score: har gao, sui mai, duck pancakes, and maybe some stir fried beef noodles if you’re really going for it. There’s nothing wrong with any of those staples per se, but Hutong is a little bit different – a dramatically designed restaurant, which originated in Hong Kong before expanding to the US and London.
Willowy hostesses greet you at the entrance, guiding you past the terrace and into a huge, dark cavernous room.
Inside, there are wood-latticed ceilings, red velvet cushions atop black steel chairs, and a Chinese wishing tree plonked in the middle. The walls have been given a dramatic carved limestone finish and there’s a black and white tiled floor. It’s all just a bit… much.
Thankfully, contrary to the over-the-top décor, Hutong’s menu is pretty simple and concise. There’s a selection of starters, soups, dim sum, barbecue, seafood, vegetables and rice and noodles.
Though the menu is said to be northern Chinese, the largest number of dishes come from Sichuan, using its famous peppercorns as a base for many dishes. The result is more numbing than fiery, so be warned.
We went to town on the unusual dim sum selection, ordering the scallop and prawn garlic wontons (Dhs85) swimming in Sichuan sauce (we could barely feel our mouths aftewards), and the raved about wild mushroom and truffle bao (Dhs55), made to resemble a large mushroom.
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We also found ourselves in a chopstick duel for the last bite of the fried Sichuan pepper spiced lobster bao (Dhs105). And then there’s the Peking duck (Dhs170 half; Dhs320 whole), which comes complete with the theatre of table-side carving and caramel-crisp skin. Easily some of the best duck we’ve had in ages.
Meanwhile, seabass fillet had been made crispy, cut into large squares and served with leek and chilli; it was fought over, too.
To, finish, we opted for the ma la chocolate mousse (Dhs60), meaning numbing and spicy, which divided opinion. Some loved the unusual after-taste sensation, some just wanted a little bit of normality. Ultimately, it’s a thumbs up for Hutong for shining a light on China’s more distinctive and unique regional cuisines.
Gate Building 6, DIFC, Dubai, daily noon to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to midnight. Tel: (04) 2200868. hutong-dubai.com