(James Loynes) – Hutong at The Shard, London
I worked in the City of London as The Shard was being built, each week another (numbered) floor was added to the lift cores while the framework and cladding followed closely behind. It was a fascinating diversion as I walked to the office each morning.
We were due to meet Kit & Elaine for lunch. The last time we met, at Bluewater, it took us forty minutes to get there, three and a half hours to get home, so lunch at Bluewater is now off the list. I then received an offer for lunch at ‘Hutong’ at The Shard so thought it would be worth investigating.
Hutong is located on the 33rd floor of The Shard, that’s just shy of half way up, and it occurred to me that this might be the ‘tallest’ meal we’d ever enjoyed. I then remembered lunch at ‘Cloud 9’ on the 87th floor of at the Grand Hyatt, appropriately enough in Shanghai in 2004. On the same trip we also visited some traditional hutong homes in Beijing. It occurs to me that it’s a little incongruous naming a chic restaurant after such places, a bit like naming a chic English restaurant ‘two up two down’ – now there’s a thought!
I digress, The Shard is just outside London Bridge underground station and well signposted. Getting into Hutong is a bit of an adventure, first any bags have to go through security checks before you take the lift to the 32nd floor, then transfer to another lift to get the the 33rd floor.
On arriving at the 33rd floor we were shown to our table (7) which was by a window, with stunning views across London – Borough Market, St Paul’s Cathedral, the BT Tower and, of course, the Thames.
The seats were interesting and surprisingly comfortable.
There are a number of exotic décor touches,
and the toilets, inevitably have floor to ceiling windows and equally impressive views across Bermondsey and Greenwich.
The lunch offer was for a five course ‘dim sum’ menu, but it was only after taking our seat I was reminded that Elaine suffers from a seafood allergy. This coupled with Val’s MSG intolerance led to a few awkward questions, but Martyna, our Polish waitress sorted everything for us, reassured Val regarding the absence of MSG and organised vegetarian options for Elaine.
The first course – ‘Jade Tofu and Halibut soup’ was subtle and delicious, while Elaine enjoyed a rich, beefy hot and sour soup.
The next course, a selection of dim sum, (King Crab and Courgette dumpling, Cod and Seaweed dumpling with Tobiko , Tiger Prawn and Black Truffle dumpling & Vegetable and Bamboo pith Dumpling) was equally tasty, served with a side dish of soy sauce and chilli paste for dipping.
The main courses comprised ‘Ma la baby Cuttlefish Fried with Dried Chilli, Sichuan Pepper and Chinese Celery’ and ‘Wok fried Chicken with Sichuan Black Bean & Ginger sauce’ accompanied by ‘Chef’s Pickled Vegetable fried Rice with Egg’ and ‘Wok tossed Choy Sum’.
All were delicious and, almost inevitably, we were beaten, unable to finish.
Not that that prevented Val from ordering dessert – ‘Chocolate Tart with mandarin sorbet‘.
The ladies shared a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (there aren’t that many bottles on the wine list under a hundred quid), while we lads enjoyed a few small bottles of Tsing Tao (£6.25 a small bottle – ouch!).
Add a lone latte coffee and 12.5% service, and the final bill came in a tad under three hundred quid for four.
The food was excellent food, but the drinks were, in my opinion, a little overpriced. I’m just glad we’d chosen the ‘cheap’ food option.
Rating: – it would have been five stars but for the drinks prices.