‘Hutong’ means a narrow alleyway in a traditional residential area of a Chinese city. In Ancient China, many of the recipes, tastes and cooking styles that have now become well-known Chinese cooking, eventuated in these alleyways…
It is out of a desire to combine the best of Asian cuisine with Western culinary techniques that Little Hutong was established.’ (description from Little Hutong)
Owners of Little Hutong, Sydney: Aliza Teo and Robert Fong met whilst studying architecture at university. The now married couple decided to enter the restaurant scene because there was a shortage of Asian dining in the Little Bay area. Presently, there is in fact only one which is Little Hutong itself.
Robert describes himself as an Eastern suburbs boy, growing up in the area, going to uni locally and even settling down in the East too. He insists that Little Hutong offers ‘fine dining’ Asian at reasonable prices cooked with soul, and I believe him. I’m not saying this just because I’m invited but because both him and Aliza exude so much passion when it comes to providing great food.
Utilising their professions in architecture they’ve designed the interior space themselves. The result is a warm dining area, flourished by modern accents of steel cables and a spotlight-fitted feature wall. An open style kitchen allows you to sit at the bar stools and watch your meal being prepped.
The menu showcases many traditional dishes from Penang, Japanese, Chinese and Peranakan food with an emphasis on Malaysian. Curry laksa, rendang, roti canai, satay skewers, wonton noodles, katsudon and gyudon just to name a few.
Tea is from Cha Tea, run by a single business owner. Aliza and Robert prefer to support small businesses which is why they source single origin tea from this supplier. Described as the ‘coffee lover’s tea’ it has a roasted nutty fragrance and hint of smokiness.
The regular wagyu marble score 7+ scotch as it says on the menu has been replaced with pan-seared wagyu rump marble score 9+. The rump cubes are delightfully rich in beef flavour, served with sweet peas, fried garlic chips, Japanese soy dressing on a bed of cauliflower puree.
When it comes to pork belly, the crackling maketh the pork – and these aromatic cubes of Chinese five spice pork belly have ample crackling factor. I chose to have just a single serve because I was sampling. But what’s thoughtful is that for some of the dishes there’s also the option of selecting a large serve as this is one of those dishes.
One of the modern dishes from the menu are these beautifully presented tuna bites. The tuna is cooked with the centre remaining rare, the rice cracker provides a textural crunch and wasabi lending the slightest heat.
In the very first mouthful, tartness from tamarind lightly coats the fall apart soft beef, itself encased in a thick sauce, heady in lemongrass, ginger and chili. Bonus is, there’s a mountain of this stuff so two can share in this wonderful dish.
Sweet and crisp gai lan provide a healthy dose of nutrients.
Designed with the patron’s preference for white (breast) or dark (thigh) in mind, I opt to go with both for comparison which in hindsight was not necessary. Both cuts offer morsels of silky, slippery, poached chicken, the thigh meat being obviously juicier than the breast.
Sweet crab flesh tossed with egg, toasted pine nuts, conpoy crisps, served with iceberg lettuce to wrap. The sang choi bao filling is a melange of flavours: nutty, a little pungent from the shredded conpoy or dried scallops and fresh lettuce leaves.
Scallops are paired with some Japanese ingredients that are known to work very well in combination. The result are fat creamy scallops in kewpie mayonnaise, accented by ocean-y bonito flakes.
Let me assure you that whatever the cuisine, Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese, every bite of food is authentic, of great quality and served with love. I should also mention that students get an attractive discount of 20% off all year round – lucky students!
Monday & Tuesday: Not Open
Wednesday - Saturday: 5:30pm – 10pm
Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm