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Visit 'old Peking' at Hutong

By Donna Mah in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-22 07:57

The night began with a frosty, pale green cocktail. Decorated with a sprinkling of white chrysanthemum petals, the light and refreshing Cixi martini made with the Chinese spirit Fen Chiew, was the prelude to a good evening out.

Arriving just as the sun was setting, we walked past the "Old Peking Market" at the restaurant entrance, and were struck by the gloriously clear skies provided some spectacular views from the 28th floor location of Hutong in One Peking Road.

We were going to enjoy the "Memories of Old Peking" menu on offer through September with nine dishes inspired by the ancient culinary traditions of China's capital. After taking a few snaps of the view, we sipped our cocktails, and chatted as we waited for the other guests to arrive.

Our meal began with a selection of four cold starters - chilled river shrimps with julienne tangerine peel, "old Peking style" glazed pomfret, roasted shredded chicken and homemade sauce, and vegetarian tofu sheet roll smoked with Chinese tea leaves. During the hot summer days in Hong Kong, chilled or cold dishes are a nice change from the "eat it while it's hot" norm that Cantonese dishes usually follow. The starter plate had a good mix of flavors, a bit of sweetness, a hint of bitterness, but I would have preferred a little less saltiness. The variety of flavors and textures presented was a good way to start the meal.

There are four main courses, each served individually. The first was a Peking duck roll with two pieces served in a bamboo steamer with the rich roast duck, slightly spicy scallion, and sweet plum sauce rolled inside thin, floury pancakes. Next, we ate the "Peking style" tiger prawn fried with chili sauce that was sweet, spicy and garlicky.

The grilled rack of lamb with herbs and cumin was tender and juicy with a strong cumin flavor. After this dish, we took a brief break to watch the hand-pulled noodles being made by the noodle master in the main dining room. This is a show that I have seen many times in various restaurants and is one that I still find entertaining. There were some children watching the noodles being made and it made me smile to see the wonder on their faces as the lump of dough was transformed into delicate noodles in the hands of the noodle master.

We returned to our table and were soon served the hand-pulled noodle tossed with seafood and minced pork sauce. Fresh-pulled noodles should be slightly chewy with just enough give when you bite into them. By now I was getting quite full, but I happily finished my bowl of noodles.

It was time for dessert and I wasn't sure if I would be able to eat my last course. I was assured that the dessert was "not too big". Most of my girlfriends talk about their "other stomach" that allows their slim figures to accommodate dessert at the end of the meal no matter how much food they've eaten. I am not one of those girls. However, the crispy glutinous rice cake with homemade ice cream was a relatively light dessert, though I was only able to eat half of it. This was not because I didn't enjoy it - but because I don't have the extra stomach. The homemade ice cream was made with oolong tea with a bit of a green, bitter taste that went well with the sweet, warm, crispy and chewy rice cake.

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