Northern Chinese restaurant Hutong at The Shard is celebrating the annual Mid-Autumn Festival – one of the most important dates in Chinese culture – with a dedicated menu this September
Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most important dates in Chinese culture, falling on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar during a full moon (Thursday 15th this year), and is a time of gathering and thanksgiving. To celebrate, Hutong’s Head Chef, Bing Luo, has created an impressive seven-dish menu.
The gastronomic journey begins with a fantastic octopus salad in homemade hot and sour sauce thinly sliced morsels of almost melt-in-the-mouth octopus you’ve ever tasted – though not as thinly sliced, carpaccio fans will be very pleased!
The set menu continues with a fiery Sichuan style dish of Ma La baby cuttlefish, fried with dried chilli, Sichuan pepper, Chinese celery and garnished with coriander for a fragrant finish. Ma La, which literally translates as ‘numbing spice’, contrasts with the robust flavours of the cuttlefish to create a perfectly balanced dish, and those meaty morsels of fish are simply divine.
The fish courses serve almost as appetisers, arriving one at a time, to be savoured, and then it is time to feast. Two meat courses of fabulously flavoursome beef tenderloin in Yuxiang sauce and stir-fried chicken mixed with heaps of finely chopped fresh green and red chilli follow. The chicken dish will certainly put paid to any sniffles that may be threatening. It is hot. Wok-tossed Choy Sum and seafood fried rice with dried salty fish and ginger complete the savoury offering.
The Mid-Autumn Festival marks the harvest season and gives thanks to family and friends. Also known
as the Moon Festival or Harvest Moon Festival, a traditional part of the festivities are mooncakes, which are shared among loved ones as a symbol of unity. A classic mooncake has a dense filing of bean paste,
with a salted duck egg yolk, to reference the moon.
This year, Hutong has given the mooncake a contemporary twist; instead of a baked pastry case, Head Chef Bing Luo has used glutinous rice, much like Japanese mochi, known as snow skin, or ping pei. Served as chilled desserts, they come in a choice of three flavours: Custard, Taro and Jasmine Tea. Custard was my preferred flavour, but still, these are an acquired taste!
Hutong is an impressive restaurant. Dark and moody with lanterns, heavy wooden doors and even an indoor tree on which to hang more lanterns and messages of good luck, make this a very atmospheric place to dine indeed. Perfect for secret rendezvous or raucous catch-ups with friends alike. Request a table by the window and drink in the views as the sun sets over London.
The Mid-Autumn Festival menu, priced at £65 per person, is available from 12-25 September 2016 for lunch and dinner. For reservations call 020 3011 1257, email email@example.com or see hutong.co.uk