Food review: Hutong offers up a fiery night out in DIFC

The chic eatery serves Northern Chinese cuisine


Ambica Sachin

Published: Wed 2 Feb 2022, 10:10 AM

It’s a bitingly chilly weekday night when we decide to throw caution to the winds and venture into traffic heavy DIFC, beckoned by the lure of the Orient.

The contemporary North Chinese cuisine outpost Hutong (with branches in Hong Kong, London, New York and Miami) is buzzing (is there ANY place in the city that isn’t?) when we make our way through a serpentine pathway into the dimly lit and mysterious hallway where we are quickly led to a cozy corner table.

We are ushered past Hutong’s signature wishing tree, an enchanting sight with auspicious crimson tags tied to the willowy branches.

Red, is the predominant theme of the night, we soon find out as we opt for the sharing menu of the Red Lantern Evening (Dh288 per person for food with a Supplement available for Dh228/498).

The 8-dish sharing menu kicked off tamely enough with a trio of appetisers — dainty Black Garlic and Chicken Siu Mai (succulent as they come); the speckled Wild Mushroom and Truffle Bao came with its distinctive earthy flavour, while Asparagus dressed at the ends with a coating of sesame and chilli paste had a nice crunch to it.

The Hutong Fried Rice (easily one of the best dishes of the night) — with generous lashings of thick scrambled egg and plump shrimps with chilli fennel seed paste — is so flavorful we scoop it off the serving dish without bothering with niceties.

It went well with the Crispy Eggplant doused in a chopstick licking sweet and sour sauce and a plate of Ma La Chilli Prawns with more than a hint of fiery Sichuan peppercorns and garnished with a generous portion of red chilli bits.

The chillies no doubt gave the platter a spectacularly splendid look; visual wizardry by a flamboyant chef that isn’t exactly palatable unless you boast a stomach of steel.

But the true ‘wow’ moment came when the main dish arrived. Deep-fried soft shell crab buried under a bed of hundreds of glistening, crinkled red chillies served in a cauldron, aptly named the Red Lantern.

We had to literally fish out the crunchy crustaceans from a sea of red, and they proved just as delicious as they looked with a serious dash of spice.

The dessert, an earthy coconut pudding topped with a gold embossed crisp cookie on top and a dollop of sour fruit sorbet on the side, brought us down to earth with its simple palate cleansing tang.

Hutong’s USP lies in offering discernible diners a global take on oriental cuisine in a chic setting with a bit of theatrics thrown in. The food is the star here and the eye-popping red hot chillies that come along with the star dishes only add to its fiery allure.

Hutong is located at Gate Building 6, DIFC, where the Red Lantern menu is available on Wednesdays.

More news from