Hutong has recently launched a brand new menu featuring Szechuan BBQ skewers, with each skewer starting at $1. Yes $1 per skewer, and it is not a publicity stunt. The restaurant's new menu comprises over 40 varieties of Szechuan appetizers and BBQ skewers, from meat to seafood and vegetables.
Hutong’s skewers are kept warm throughout the meal, as they are served over a griller instead of on plates. Each griller is specially imported from China. All the skewers are marinated with a special inhouse blend consisting of salt, white pepper powder, cooking wine and cumin powder. For mutton and chicken wing, dark soya sauce is added to lend an umami note. Left overnight, the marinade permeates every inch of the ingredient, resulting in a flavourful bite. Then, a special blend of salt, sugar, garlic powder, cumin powder, chicken stock powder and chilli flakes (for spicy offerings) is sprinkled atop the skewer.
Be spoilt for choice with offerings including chicken meat, pig stomach, pig intestine, premium beef cube, mutton leg meat, tentacles of squid and fresh prawns. Temper the meat indulgence with oyster mushrooms, sliced lotus root, broccoli and romaine lettuce. Each skewer is charcoal grilled, a cooking technique that achieves a nice smoky finish. Chilli oil is used to grill the spicy offerings while cane pepper oil is used for the non-spicy items — each type of oil adds another depth of flavour.
We decided to drop by on a cool December evening to try out the new menu. We reckoned BBQ food would warm our bellies and hearts during this rainy monsoon season.
The interior is very Chinese Oriental chic with hanging lanterns and antique furniture. The staff were very attentive and customer oriented and we were shown to our seats.
We ordered our drinks first for some pre dinner cocktails and we were recommended the Moutai Punch $12 and Moutai Colada $12. The Punch was like a Yuzu cocktail with a shot of Moutai to give it that extra oomph, while the Colada was a coconut base Pina Colada with infused Moutai. Both were highly refreshing and served as a palate cleanser before we ordered our food.
We started off with a BBQ Platter featuring an assortment of their best selling skewers starting from $1 per skewer.
The Grilled Oysters ($7 for 2 pieces) were huge and juicy. My goodness look at the size of those oysters. They were topped with a special Szechuan Mala chilli sauce on to give it that fusion oriental spiciness kick. It was a refreshing change from the usual oysters with tabasco sauce or chilli cocktail sauce served at hotel buffets and western resturants.
Next up was the Premium Half Shell Scallops ($8.80 for 2 pieces). It paired really well with our cokctails and white wine.
If you are craving other types of cuisines, you will be glad to know that you can order across several other brands under the Katrina Group, all conveniently located at Clarke Quay. These restaurants include Japanese bar Tomo Izakaya, Indonesian restaurant Bayang, Thai restaurant RENNThai and Mexican bar Muchos.
We decided to try out some Indonesian food from Bayang nearby.
We tried the Sambal Stingray $18 and Satay Madura at $1 per stick.
Wow these prices are really reasonable, considering that a similar stingray dish at a hawker centre would go for $12-16 and a stick of satay already costs $0.70-0.90 depending on the hawker centre location.
The stingray was fresh, the flesh was tender and we did not detect any unpleasant odours typically associated with stingray that is not fresh or poorly prepared. The satay was well marinated in Bayang's secret marinade sauce and was tender and juicy.
The signature house dish Mala Xiao Long Xia with Moutai $38.90 was a visually appealing treat.
A generous amount of baby crawfish is stir-fried with a blend of aromatic mala spices. When served, a shot of Moutai is drizzled over the dish; the overall dish is then flambéed for a dramatic presentation. Each crawfish is juicy and succulent, and steeped in the natural oils of the spices, becomes incredibly fragrant and wonderfully spicy.
Summary of our verdict:
The food quality was excellent and prices extremely reasonable and hard to beat. We are srcatching our heads to name another similar restaurant that can offer this at the same prices. It is positioned as a Chinese style Japanese Izakaya skewers with drinks, perfect for after work gatherings and even family outings.
Hutongs are old alleys and narrow streets typically found in Beijing, China. The ancient Chinese built their houses with courtyards close to each other to form narrow passageways between them. Many neighbourhoods and relationships were forged through these structural of hutongs as they become a pivotal part in the lives of the local Chinese people. Today, many hutongs have gradually disappeared to make way for modernisation in the vast city.
Hutong seeks to retain the distinctive character and charm of such unique, diminished features in old Beijing. The 110-seat restaurant is flawlessly decorated with bold red lanterns and Chinese silk drapes that claim all attention. Carefully selected antique fixtures complement and add a refinement, nostalgic feel to the restaurant. Our Northern Chinese-inspired fine cuisine appeals to diners with a palate for all things traditional and Chinese. Interestingly put together, they bring out the laidback charm of old Beijing in a sharp contrast with the vibrant backdrop by the Clarke Quay riverside.
Venue: 3D River Valley Rd, #01-07 Block D, Singapore 179023
Reservation line: 6336 0212
Operating hours: Tue - Sun 5pm to 11pm