Following in the illustrious footsteps of its Michelin-starred mothership in Hong Kong, Hutong opened to such a buzz in London in 2013 – situated on 33th floor of The Shard boasting chic Chinoiserie interiors, and glittering skyline views of the capital in all its glory – that it was the restaurant I chose for my final fashion dinner to before I moved to the Middle East. So it was only fitting that Hutong Dubai was the spot I ventured out to as I finally became a member of The Stay-Safe Supper Club.
A separate ground-level entrance, facing the DIFC roundabout and the Museum of the Future, and its own valet parking besides the restaurant on Al Sukook Street, both ensure you’re not mingling with the melee of the Dubai dinner crowd for a smooth arrival and an efficient exit. You pass through a shaded outdoor area which will await you when the humidity drops, and your temperature is taken at the wrist before you’re shown to your table.
As the name Hutong is derived from the narrow lanes found in Chinese neighbourhoods, a tree adorned with decorative red envelopes – ang pows that traditionally contain lucky money in Chinese culture – and the chicest of exposed brickwork dominate the room, and the décor is a mix of ornate dark lacquered wood, and deep red accents, spliced subtly with Arabic geometry.
Hutong’s mouth-tingling menu is inspired by Northern Chinese cuisine served in the palaces of Beijing, and firmly rooted what it politely puts as the “sometimes fiery” Sichuan style. Having visited this particular province in China and experienced its eye-watering fare for myself, I was relieved to discover that the chefs weren’t too precious to temper the heat for the more sensitive tastebuds – even serving two versions of the Hutong Fried Rice with shrimp and chilli fennel seed paste to please differing palettes. We started with Dim Sum – a Steamed Dumpling Platter, presented in a treasure box containing delicate parcels of Cumin, Scallop, Squid and Shrimp; Spiced Chilean Sea Bass; Tea Smoked Dried Tofu and Mixed Vegetables; and Bamboo Shoots and Shrimp Har Gow, each mouthful more exquisite than the last.
Roasted Peking Duck with Pancakes followed, a true performance served at the table by the chef, masked and dressed in black masterfully slicing the meat with a stainless steel cleaver with deftness and dexterity, whisking away half the portion which reappeared later on in the evening diced and served in lettuce leaf cups. Truffle sauce provided a contemporary twist to a classic Chinese crowd-pleaser. Wok Tossed Tiger Prawns added to the feast, washed down with iron teapots of fragrant jasmine tea.
For a Stay-Safe Supper Club souvenir selfie, head to the bathroom for brass bamboo mirrors, pink feather plume walls, black bamboo taps for one of many Instagram moments, and a memory of the gastronomic opulence of Dubai’s latest haute spot.
Ma La Chili Prawns
Chilean Seabass Red Star Noodles
Aromatic Beef Rib in Lotus Leaves