The lucky number 33 is the floor of The Shard on which this glamorous Chinese restaurant called Hutong is situated. My suspicion is that this has something to do with the typical eastern culture, but I could be wrong. Either way, picking floor 33 has proven to be a great choice leading to resounding success in the hospitality industry – although I wouldn’t say that this is due to luck…
Hutong is the authentic replica of the renown restaurant in Hong Kong and as rarely as you can see a restaurant or bar modelled by an original one in a foreign country (with a foreign cuisine) Hutong seems to be one of these rarities! Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when mentioning Hutong is The Shard and the magnificent view over London’s hustle and bustle. But undoubtedly, the second best feature is the authenticity of this restaurant’s cuisine and atmosphere! So far you have two major reasons to check out Hutong, let’s continue the trip along its characteristics and see if there are more pluses![/column]
The ambience of such a place is critical to me. When there are attractions such as the fact that Hutong’s windows look over the capital of Britain from several hundred meters in the sky, restaurants and bars tend to miss out on any other efforts to attract clients. Well, the view is not enough. First of all, a venue at The Shard has become a trivial thing already, let alone a venue at The Shard that has no other significant pros. And what I admire about Hutong is that they have gone through the painstaking process of creating a truly beautiful restaurant. At least for those who are keen on eastern interior. It is just what you would expect from a place trying to teleport you to China in seconds – bamboo, dark wood, red lanterns. And a wishing tree logged with wishes made just for the sake of getting the full experience. And the best part is that there are not enough dragons, gold linings and tiny motley figures to make you feel as if you are in the middle of a cheap stall in China Town where tea is actually the safest thing to buy…All the interior is somehow subtly matched with the huge windows pouring industrial contemporary reminders of London’s ‘nature’.
The kitchen in Hutong has also succeeded in bringing the typical northern breeze all the way to London. You can taste many exquisite dishes originally coming from the East and I promise you that these won’t be just prevamped ordinary European meals with ‚exotic’ names so that newbies in this cuisine can get easily impressed. This cannot be said for a lot of Chinese restaurants across England, but Hutong really offers authentic and delicious food prepared with great care.
You can browse through the menu Here, see beforehand what the deals are. Of course, for those who like the restaurant and the view or who simply have a spouse/friends with a flair for Chinese food but would prefer something more traditional to their homes, Hutong has also prepared with some options for more western meals.
What I liked most from my dinner at Hutong was the Fried chicken fillet with Sichuan dried chilli – to be honest, I think any dish with enough sauce would have been as good. Or at least most of them. The chef at Hutong somehow makes the sauces like whole separate meals – creamy, as if you are drinking the spicy/salty Chinese version of a smoothie with quality products and almost no water! You can taste all the ingredients in their full glamour and yet this is just a mashed substance you pour over the real thing – your meat/vegetables/rice and so on. One hardly comes by such exquisite additions to a meal!
I feel like I’m starting to ramble inadequate superlatives about this place and thus leave the impression that my opinion is biased for some reason. But there is no other way to say this, when something is good – there’s no denying. And Hutong compliments its delicious food with a very pleasant experience with service! Yes, it sounds unbelievable, that’s exactly why I’m worried I would sound feigned. But in contrast to most Chinese restaurants where the staff doesn’t speak English (or Politeness) Hutong shines with attentive, engaging and smiling waiters. I know what you think, this is not a downtown take-away Chinese…cubical, where you would expect nothing but non-English speakers, this is The Shard after all, presentable staff is gathered even before you sign the lease for renting such a place. Yet, we see many places like Gong which could shock you with the manners of the waiters; and Hutong is all about taking care of the client’s comfort and happiness!
Okay, here is the place to take a break from all the praises and give away a bad ‘secret’ about Hutong. High prices are expected, of course, in the middle of the tallest building in Europe. But I don’t think that such pricey places should be exonerated with a calm smile just because they have some distinct feature – be it a view, a one of a kind cuisine or a famous owner. The same quality of food, service and ambience could easily be found for less than half the money you would pay here on a first floor level around London. We could all agree that a peek through the glass at Hutong is worth additional money, but maybe a little less than the owner thinks…
The first and foremost detail about Hutong, unrelated to the previous features, that I want to mention is a bit silly, but still cool – their toilets. Yes, the toilets; how impressive can a lavatory be? Well, I guess not as much as a whole restaurant, but still, the fact that you can pee over London town is pretty cool. As it’s clear that nobody would be able to see you up there, there are large windows (for the lucky males – just in front) in the toilets as well. So if you are a hidden exhibitionist or have some unresolved issues with London and wish to make a symbolic gesture towards your desires – Hutong is the place!
Now, a more serious side. What I see about Hutong is its flexibility. As good of an option as other venues at The Shard can be when you wish to impress your friends who have never been to London or when you are wondering what place to choose for a business meeting or an important lunch, I think Hutong is the most adequate option here. The menu and the décor seem to be equally suitable for all kinds of gatherings, any time of the day with any kind of company! And this is a rare feature – most places, even though they offer a lunch menu and are always fully booked for 1 p.m., seem a bit inadequate – having lunch at a bar? It just doesn’t go…
So aside from the prices which are suitable for the Queen’s relatives only, Hutong seems to add up a truly memorable experience – for the eager tourists who wish to see the real London and not to miss out on anything and for the locals who wish to live their lives to the fullest, tasting everything their hometown offers, again and again. So a trip to Hutong might be costly but is surely worth it – promise to at least give it a thought!