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    Relishing A Bite of Spring at The Hut|TastyTrip

    Author:Jocelyn Chen

    The Hut, a celebrated restaurant brand specializing in new Huaiyang cuisine, opened its NOBLE store at LuOne by CapitaLand Group last November. Featuring bold, gorgeous colours and boutique, renaissance-inspired décor, The Hut offers a vintage sea of dark olive green with accents of high-gloss, eye-catching burgundy. At busiest times, the dining room is wonderfully ambient and holds that traditional French feel regardless of the hype.

    Focusing on crafting creative new Huaiyang cuisine, The Hut is known for having insisted on sourcing best quality ingredients and innovating Chinese cuisine with modern western techniques while maintaining the essential charm of oriental cooking styles. This is not an easy thing to do especially for a restaurant of such scale and budge. The spring menu is once again surprisingly stunning with natural flavours and thoughtful plating, light as sunny breezes and tasty as a bite of spring.

    Martell-preserved Prawns/ Shanghai Style Bombay Duck

    Despite fierce competition within the restaurant industry, The Hut has been insisting on quality ingredients, exact execution, warm dining environment, and affordable budget, all made possible by the founder Mr. Zhu Jun’s philosophy. Over the past seven years, The Hut has been producing carb-conscious and refreshing dishes, yet it manages to make each one of them astonishing as they progress through the courses.

    Having witnessed the growth of The Hut from scratch, Executive Chef Sun Xiaoyang has deep feelings towards the restaurant. Mr. Zhu Jun noticed a gap in the marketplace where the fine-ding scene is mostly unaffordable to the general public. Sharing the same vision, Chef Sun joined Mr. Zhu in establishing the first venue of The Hut at Nanfeng City in Shanghai, and since started a seven-year journey with the restaurant.

    Executive Chef at The Hut: Sun Xiaoyang/ Writer and chef

    The spring menu features seasonal ingredients that taste like a spring breeze, blissfully scented with fresh fragrance of herbs, flower buds and vegetable tips. The Hut is good at using common ingredients to produce uncommon effect, one example being the Broad Bean Salad with Leek Sauce dressed in a spring chive sauce. The masterful handling of these two ingredients echoed with the season and the beans were so soft that even the skin melted in the mouth. Trendy in style and elegant in taste, the Chinese Toon Mixed with Tofu was served in cute little balls to bring out the best in each other.

    Broad Bean Salad with Leek Sauce/ Chinese Toon Mixed with Tofu/ Braised Pig Ears

    The starters were a pleasant surprise as soon as we kicked off the meal. Shredded Chicken and Jellyfish Wrapped in Yunnan Zucchini is a classic cold plate. Golden Yunnan zucchini is slightly salted and sliced, shaping into a vivid golden fish and wrapping in shredded chicken and jellyfish slices for a refreshing delight. Then we were treated with a bowl of thick soup made with crab meat, shepherd’s purse, crab stick and shredded bamboo shoots, which combined vital, grassy notes with velvety, creamy texture and umami seafood accents.

    Shredded Chicken and Jellyfish Wrapped in Yunnan Zucchini/Conch Slices in Scallion Oil

    One of my favourite dishes on the spring menu is the Braised Tiger Grouper with Spring Bamboo Shoots. The grouper was rich in fat and tender in texture, pan-fried before braised with incredibly tender and sweet spring bamboo shoots, whiffing in treasured flavours from the mountains and the sea.

    Braised Tiger Grouper with Spring Bamboo Shoots/ Crabmeat Soup with Shepherd’s Purse/ Beef Cheek with Fried Green Pepper

    Another eye-catching dish, “She De” (舍得, refers to a quality of being generous), comprised of an artistic arrangement of choy sum layered up on the plate, almost resembling a pool of breathtaking emeralds with its renewing and fresh color that soothes the soul. To make this dish is quite time-consuming, because they need to take off the leaves from 15kg vegetables and only the choy sum is retained to be simmered in a stock to give it a sweet taste. The leaves won’t be wasted though – they would be used to make staff meal in reflection of the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability.

    She De/ Sauteed Eel Shreds and Mandarin Fish Shreds

    The Lily Bulbs, Shrimps & Soy Duck Box is a twist on the Crispy Duck with Taro. In keeping with the Huaiyang style, The Hut uses Guangxi taro and Shanghai-style soy sauce duck instead of marinated duck. Normally when deep fried, the taro and the duck would easily fall off from each other, but The Hut cleverly tucks the duck meat into the taro puree, yielding a savoury, crispy and clean result. Hundreds of hand-peeled shrimps were lavishly placed at the center of the dish to pair with fresh lilies, forming a delightful and refreshing accompaniment to the fried elements.

    Lily Bulbs, Shrimps & Soy Duck Box/ Crispy Chicken with Black Truffle

    The dishes were light, chic and not showy of the skills, not only in terms of flavour, but also the presentation. Even though each one of them was appealing enough in the way they look, the presentation was suitably decorative and appropriately balanced.

    The Hut, since opening, has been striving to innovate new cooking methods without abandoning what works in the tradition. Chef Sun Xiaoyang mentioned that the kitchen is equipped with both Chinese and western kitchenware, which has effectively enabled better handling of the ingredients. With top-notch Chinese cuisine restaurants placing greater importance to the seasonality of their dishes, The Hut has always been offering seasonal menus with craftsmanship and authentic flavours.

    Pan-fried Rice Cake, Shanghai Style/ Signature Pomfret Fried Rice/ Crispy Rice Cake with Ice-cream

    The Hut is a new Huaiyang cuisine restaurant that houses oriental charm and creative styles. In terms of consistency and complexity of the dishes, the Michelin Guide owes it a place on the list.

    -END-

    Author:  Jocelyn Chen
    Photo: Shi Ye
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