While in Hong Kong, talking to the ex-pat community, you are bound the hear the name of a place called Aqua more than once. It is a restaurant group with a French restaurant called La Marmite [weird!] and a cocktail bar with an impressive view called Aqua, and Italian place, a Japanese place and two Chinese places. There is even and “authentic” junk which sails the harbour. There are three of their places here in London too I think. I was about to say that it was unlikely I would ever visit any, and then I looked up the cocktail list at the Aqua Spirit Place and I am already wondering if I can twist Philippa’s arm…
Anyway – so while I was in Hong Kong, I ended up at Hutong – the Modern North Chinese cuisine one. It was like walking into a stage set it was so fabulously decorated, including the waiting staff, including the water in the bathroom basin coming out of a hanging barrel to wash your hands, everything considered down to the last most minute detail. Really spectacular. Until you realise the other actors in this old time Chinese theatre are Australian / American blokes doing major deals (folks, they wear checked shirts and chinos) laughing about going jet skiing at the table next door.
Foodwise I had no idea whatsoever what to expect. My friend and I were picking things out on the menu and the waitress said “No I dont think you should have that, it is very Chinesey. Not good for Western people.” Which made us want it even more – and this was just two different types of “tea” – mine was lychee, clove and something else. My friend had Osmanthus Flower, Star Anise and Pine Nuts. There were both amazingly delicious!
Then we ordered scallops and pomelo, sitting on ice and asparagus with white sesame seeds. Again, our order raised alarm.
Then for the main dishes we had Prawns and green chilli and some Chinkiang Pork Ribs. And even then, this isnt what we wanted – I can’t remember the reason why…
Again the food was delicious.
For desert, I tried all the icecreams on the menu that seemed interesting and my friend has some apple rolls with lotus root chips.
It said on the menu Shao Hsing wine. And conclusively it had that really photocopier chemical vibe from the oldern days and taste. Suffice to say, I didn’t finish that one. But the sesame wafers were lovely. Fortunately I had also ordered some Black and White Seame Icecream too or the wafers would have been a bit of a giving up on life dessert.
So I don’t know if I enjoyed Hutong or not, or even if the staff wanted me to… Would I go back? Don’t know if it is even really worth it. There are so many other places to try out first where the Chinese staff come out from the kitchen to watch you eat the food and smile.