Sherman's Food Adventures: Hu Tong

Hu Tong

Once again, meeting up with Choobee for lunch meant traveling deep into the Westside of Vancouver.  Why you might ask?  Well, apparently, she doesn't acknowledge there is anything East of Main Street.  It might as well be a vast expanse of nothingness.  Could she be a Westside snob?  Possibly.  But more likely is that she is just plain lazy and couldn't be troubled to drive that far...  So therefore, I made my way out to Kits to meet her at Hu Tong for some Beijing cuisine.

We began with some appies including the Smashed Cucumber and Honey Tofu.  Although dressed in plenty of garlic and sesame, the cucumber itself was quite bland.  Naturally, it is often used as a counterbalance to the heavier spicy dishes, but I would've liked to see more seasoning to bring the cucumber to life.  Texturally, it was crunchy and fresh.  As for the tofu, it was pressed, hence being firm in texture.  With a light crispiness, it had a good overall feel.  It was dressed in a sweet glaze that was syrupy, yet ultimately impactful.

For some odd reason, I decided to order the Preserved Egg with Ginger.  Although easily replicated at home, I was dying to eat preserved egg.  I guess that would be somewhat ironic due to the latest buzz about the eggs originating out of China (think chemicals).  This was simple, yet pleasant with a soft runny yolk with grated ginger and a vinegary soy dressing.  Onto something bigger (relatively), we tried the Braised Ribs.  These were fall-off-the-bone tender where the meat was really moist and fatty.  The first few bites revealed plenty of cinnamon, star anise and cloves.  The flavours were sweet and impactful.

Seemingly the same, but completely different, we had the Brisket Hot Pot.  With small fatty chunks of meat, it was sitting in a greasy sauce that exhibited a certain sweetness that was counteracted by a spicy finish.  This was thanks to the chili flakes and Szechuan peppercorns.  Again, there was a hit of five-spice and a touch of cumin.  We also tried the Stir Fried Noodles that were accented by fatty pork and green beans.  As for the noodles themselves, they were chewy, somewhat dry and plenty greasy.  However, when we mixed the accompanying ginger black vinegar, it brought the dish alive with acidity and sweetness.

Lastly, we had the Stuffed Bun which was modest with the egg and chive filling. It was more bready than anything else.  We weren't exactly impressed with this version as it was heavy and lacking in any discernible flavours or appealing textures.  Overall, we were moderately satisfied with our meal at Hu Tong.  It wasn't like we didn't like the food, it was just that there was nothing that really jumped out at us, especially at the high prices.

The Good:
- Something different (not a whole lot of other Beijing-type restaurants out there)
- Apprehensively friendly service

The Bad:
- Expensive
- Okay food, but hardly memorable

Hu Tong 胡同北京家庭菜 on Urbanspoon

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