Colin Hockley reviews Hutong at the Shard
I am in an express elevator and in less than 30 seconds whisked 121 meters (400 feet) above the streets of London to the 33rd level where Hutong at The Shard awaits. Stepping out to the mezzanine overlooking the busy bar and through the full-height windows, across the Thames to St Pauls and along to the London Eye I remind myself there is still some 187m (508ft) to the top of this stunning skyscraper.
A good restaurant should devote almost as much thought to the ambience it offers diners as it does to the food. If it achieves this and offer jaw-dropping views of London,one of the world’s greatest cities, the food could almost be allowed to take a back seat. Fortunately Hutong at The Shard, (the younger sister of the well-established Hong Kong branch) has not allowed that to happen. The menu takes its inspiration from the spicy dishes served in the imperial palaces of old Beijing in Northern China.
But the menu is also as contemporary as The Shard itself. To help us with the diverse choices we are guided by our exuberant server Leanne who also explains the menu is all about sharing. As we await our starters, the sun is setting on the horizon behind St Pauls and now I’m tempted to simply write about the views of London from such a unique standpoint, but I remind myself that the food is really what counts.
The combination of starters is perfect. Chilled sliced scallops with pomelo segments (£15.00) and Shandong Shredded chicken with butterfly buns (£15.50). The scallops are fresh and simple, set off by the crisp flavour of the pomello while the chicken has much more going on with plenty of chilli and spices. The butterfly buns are a little unusual with a questionable kind of damp texture, but inoffensive in taste. By the time the half Roasted Peking duck (£30) arrives night has fallen across the city and the restaurant takes on a different feel. The lighting is kept deliberately muted to appreciate the views and …..I realise I’m drifting to views again.
The duck is served in two stages, first, part of it is sliced so you can fully enjoy the flavour and tenderness of the meat and then the remainder is brought back shredded in the more traditional way to enjoy with pancakes. For our final dishes we have chosen Steamed cod with Sichuan peppercorn (£29.00) and the more exotic Grouper fillet with black bean sauce (£27.00). Again these are a great compliment to each other. The cod is cooked to perfection with a delicate almost creamy flavour, but the Grouper again has more spiciness in the thick sauce that accompanies it.
Hutong at The Shard is high-end dining, but that goes for the location as well as the cost and there are few places in London that can combine the two to such a great effect. And I didn’t even get round to describing the view from the men’s convenience which is gaining a reputation in its own right!
What does Hutong at The Shard cost?
Signature menu is available for £68 per person