A Northern Chinese restaurant with a chic vibe fresh from London.
We are ashamed to admit that it has taken us the best part of a year to visit Hutong in DIFC. The trendy restaurant specialising in contemporary Northern Chinese cuisine, dim sum and creative cocktails opened earlier this year becoming a fast-contender as one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city.
Following hot on the heels of openings in New York, Miami and the original Hutong in Hong Kong, Hutong Dubai may not have the appealing views offered by its counterpart within The Shard in London, but it is no less impressive.
Walking into an expansive dining room with unusually high ceilings were immediately impressed by the chic decor which is anchored around a central wishing tree, where red ribbons flutter in the slender branches thanks to the powerful air conditioning. Carved wooden walls, vibrant red upholstery and latticed wooden screens set the tone for a sophisticated dining experience where food and drink take precedence. Upstairs you’ll find two gorgeous private dining rooms, but given the current cool climate, we choose to sit on the new terrace, where glimpses of the Dubai skyline peek above manicured hedgerows.
Service is affable and snappy, and within moments of being seated, we’re already sipping on beverages while a set menu of Northern Chinese dishes appears upon the tabletop one by one. Despite an expansive a la carte offering which contains approximately 75 per cent of the dishes from London’s Hutong, we opt for the multi-course Golden Lantern Menu which is an absolute steal at AED 285 per person, given the location and premium ingredients.
The menu relies a little too much on truffle and gold leaf embellishments (we are in Dubai after all). Still, Hutong’s culinary offering definitely stands up against the heavy-hitters in the city when it comes to Chinese cuisine.
We begin with a tea-smoked truffle roll which sets the tone of the evening. A tofu skin wraps around black truffle and carrot, and the quaint mouthful is light and delicate despite the subtle smoking process that the dish has undergone. Next to arrive are the dim sim, black truffle and shrimp har gow and black garlic and chicken shu mai both of which are moreish little parcels, generously stuffed and bursting with flavours. We’re informed that all of Hutong’s culinary team have been brought to Dubai from Hong Kong and the authenticity of the dishes certainly shows.
No visit to Hutong would be complete without their signature Half Roasted Peking Duck with Pancakes. Although you may have encountered this dish countless times before, the version at Hutong impresses with its lacquered crisp skin and tender flesh, that is rich and flavour and complemented by a trio of dipping sauces – plum, truffle and pepper. The duck is carved and prepared tableside to provide guests with an interactive experience and ads a vibrancy to the meal that is met and excelled by the beverages on offer.
The main courses include crispy tofu, wok-fried vegetables and Kung Pao Prawns. The latter dish embodies us with pangs of nostalgia, reminding us of the British Chinese takeaways we grew up with, where the meat is slathered in a sweet and sticky sauce. We’re in our element, and it is at this point that the Hutong dining experience captures our hearts. Additional main courses such as the signature Red Lantern, a dish of crab buried under a bed of chilli, can be added into the Golden Lantern Menu for an additional supplement.
Dessert is restrained, but we’re thankful, bearing in mind all of the food that has come before the final sweet course. The bao and soy is a subtle end to a beautifully conceptualised menu and one that makes us want to return to Hutong again to explore the remainder of the menu.
With so many restaurants throwing open their doors in the upscale DIFC neighbourhood, Hutong has made its mark in what has been a notably difficult year for the hospitality industry. Hutong is one to check out next time you’re in search of delicious dim sum.
GO: Visit hwww.hutong-dubai.com or call (0)4 220 0868 for reservations and more information.