SquareMeal Review of Hutong at The Shard
As the London flagship of the Hong Kong-based Aqua Group, this high-rise Chinese atop the Shard is nigh on impossible to beat for its beautiful carved-wood interiors, glamorous vibes and “incredible” views of London’s skyline. Diners also get a good view of the restaurant’s kitchen towards the back of the “massive” space.
At lunchtime, the ‘experience’ set menu lives up to its name, although premium dim sum is a bigger draw – try exquisite items such as the XO scallop and ‘crystal’ prawn dumplings, bean curd rolls strafed with monkfish or pan-fried Wagyu beef buns. We’re also big fans of the Ibérico pork xiao long bao (broth-filled Shanghai dumplings).
However, the kitchen shows its real class in the evening with some inspired regional cooking ranging from crispy oysters with peanut, sesame and dried chilli to braised Chinkiang pork ribs tweaked with sweet vinegar sauce – not forgetting a “really tasty” full-strength version of Peking duck, authentically served in ‘two stages’.
It’s also worth investing in flagged-up signature dishes such as numbing-hot ‘ma la’ crispy eel spiced with dried chilli and cumin or steamed halibut with ‘red star’ rice noodles and vegetables in a fiery broth.
“Top service” is attuned to the needs of out-of-town visitors as well as expense-account City types, while drinks cover all bases – don’t miss the innovative oriental cocktails on offer in Hutong’s low-lit Bar. Hefty prices are a bugbear for some readers, although most people (including the team at SquareMeal) reckon that Hutong is “worth every penny”.
About Hutong at The Shard
Turn right when you exit the ear-popping elevator at The Shard and you’ll be greeted with the most spectacular view in London, a jaw-dropping panorama of the ever-evolving skyline of the Square Mile, with famous landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and Canary Wharf crowding the edge of your field of vision.
From the two dining options on offer – British-themed Aqua Shard and Szechuan-accented Hutong – we’d go Chinese very time, although no one should come here without first having a drink in Aqua Shard’s bar, which is where you'll find the best views.
That said, the views from Hutong aren’t exactly shabby, stretching westwards up the river from St Paul’s to the Millennium Wheel and Houses of Parliament, with Wembley Stadium and the hilltop villages of Hampstead and Highgate visible on the horizon on a fine day.
Minimally decorated surrounds of dark wood latticing and Chinese lanterns puts the emphasis firmly on the view, though we’ve always felt that the cooking would be worthy of attention even if it weren’t on the 33rd floor of London’s most iconic skyscraper.
The cooking is nominally northern Chinese, though in reality you’ll find many of your favourite high-street dishes done to an exceptionally high standard; Aqua is owned by a restaurant group based in Hong Kong, the spiritual home of Cantonese cooking.
Roast duck carved tableside is a speciality of the house, served in a first course of pancakes and then stir fried. Otherwise, expect vegetable spring rolls, sautéed crispy shredded beef and chilli and some terrific seafood dishes such as king crab and chilled tofu or ma la crispy eel.
Dim sum is served at lunchtime, often made from luxury ingredients: Iberico pork or lobster xiao long bao, pan-fried Wagyu beef buns or baked Wagyu beef puffs – as well as more classic pan-fried chicken dumplings or scallop siu mai. Prices match the sky-high location, but so too does the top-drawer service.