The basics: 20 New Change, London EC4M 9AD 020 3971 2600 theivyasia.com A snapshot: The Ivy Asia is one of London’s hottest new restaurants, offering Asian-themed cuisine and extravagant décor that’s designed to impress. Situated in the heart of the City overlooking St. Paul’s Cathedral, this restaurant is a must visit for a principal looking
Level 33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY
+44 020 3011 1257
Located well above London’s skyline on Level 33 of the Shard, Hutong delivers refined Northern Chinese flavours in a sophisticated and luxurious space. With jaw-dropping views as the backdrop, it’s a dramatic way to enjoy dim sum, Peking duck, Shandong seafood and other modern Asian dishes. It’s perfectly placed for London Bridge and Southwark-based workers, but with such a unique setting, it’s worth the trip from anywhere in central London.
A bit of background
Hutong is the London flagship of the Aqua Restaurant Group, a Hong Kong-based hospitality venture. Its brother resides in their home city, where it has developed a reputation for delivering fiery flavours in what can only be described as a sumptuous setting. The London outpost isn’t much different, albeit a little more Anglicised. With two private dining rooms perfect for business lunches or client dinners, a menu full of words like dumplings, enoki mushrooms, Sichuan chilli and pak choi, and cocktails inspired by similar ingredients, it has everything you or your principal need for a luxurious Asian adventure.
We’re there for lunch so opt for the Experience Lunch menu. However, should you or your principal have more time, or are there later in the day, there are signature menu and à la carte options.
We open with a colourful display of dumplings, resplendent in pink, green, yellow and translucent. These are not your classic Chinatown combinations; each colour represents what’s inside. The pink is rose champagne and shrimp, the green seasonal mushroom and cabbage, and so on. Each one is a perfect parcel of flavours, beautifully balanced but as always, benefitting from a dunk of soy sauce.
From there, we move onto classic poached monkfish in lamb broth, enhanced by the interesting inclusion of Szechuan pepper and goji berries. Soon after, our table is heaving with dishes – sautéed cuttlefish with gong vegetable, enoki mushroom and Sichuan chilli sits by crispy beef tenderloin with bell peppers, dried garlic and black bean. Accompaniments include wok-fried pak choi in a garlic sauce and pickled vegetable fried rice. Each dish is a masterclass in texture – the cuttlefish is drowning in a gorgeously red broth and thanks to those Sichuan chillies, has us reaching for our water glasses more than once. The beef is lightly fried, crunchy on the outside but tender inside. The pak choi and rice cut through the richness of the other dishes, while soaking up all their juices. We finish with a refreshing mango pudding, perfect for cleansing the palate.
Cocktails are just as flavoursome, with combinations such as Peking-duck-infused Hennessy cognac, roasted sesame syrup, chocolate bitters, angostura bitters and chocolate and sesame seed pancake. For those wishing to abstain from the hard stuff, there is also a small range of mocktails, as well as a selection of Chinese teas.
Because of its location, getting to the restaurant is a bit of an adventure itself. After passing through security, the lift offers a direct route to the 33rd floor, where you’ll be ushered up the stairs to the reception desk. The restaurant is spread across the edges of the building in order to take full advantage of the view. With dark wooden furniture, touches of red and textured walls, as well as ‘tree’ with wishing well ‘leaves’, it’s a decadent take on traditional Chinese interiors.
There are also two private dining rooms – appropriately named Shanghai and Beijing. The former looks over Tower Bridge and the City and has capacity for 16, while the latter boasts views of St Paul’s and the London Eye and can seat 24 guests. These options are worth considering should your principal be entertaining, creating the illusion of intimacy and privacy.
Whatever you do, make sure you make a visit to a bathroom. They’ve extended the floor-to-ceiling views here, making for one of the most dramatic bathroom visits you may ever have.
Hutong takes Chinese fare to a new level of luxury – both figuratively and literally. The prices are far beyond that of Chinatown, but in a location like this, it doesn’t matter. Make a booking for you or your principal’s next lunch or dinner – they’ll be floored by what’s on offer.
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