...is another man's poison. A collection of reviews of eating places in London, and across the world...
28 Hubin Road, Hangzhou
In Hangzhou, as we discovered the previous night at Lou Wai Lou, everything shuts down very early. It was a happy coincidence, then, that one of the restaurants we wanted to try in town happened to be in our hotel, the Hyatt Regency. That's not to say it stayed open a whole lot later - last orders was 9.30pm - but it was late enough for an after-show meal, and given that this was a 5-star hotel, we were at least assured that food wouldn't be thrown at us by sour-faced wait staff, as it was the day before.
We returned to the hotel at around 8.45pm, after catching Zhang Yimou's Impression West Lake show, and headed straight to the restaurant. It was already almost empty, but we were greeted with a smile and eagerly shown to our table - oh what a difference a day makes.
First to arrive were the cold dishes, as always, starting with Marinated Goose Liver with Shaoxing Yellow Wine. Foie gras always goes well with sauternes - this was a Chinese version if you like - it was exquisite, and needless to say, a million miles away from the horrible steamed goose liver dish at Lou Wai Lou. "Osmanthus" Lotus Root stuffed with Glutinous Rice was also lovely, better even than the already very good version at the Zhiweiguan lunch the day before.
Having twice been disappointed by beggar's chicken dishes in Hangzhou, we were ready to give it a miss on this occasion but were persuaded by the waitress to order a variation of the dish that she promised would be better - the Braised Chicken and Pork Knuckle in Clay Pot – and it was indeed a vast improvement on the standard beggar’s chicken versions at the otherwise impressive Zhiweiguan, and the universally terrible Lou Wai Lou. Braised Lamb Leg with Chopped Chillies and Soy Sauce was also very good - tender lamb that fell nicely off the bone, in a delicious thick sauce, and a hint of chilli - it would have been a perfect dish to go with rice, except I had decided not to have any rice at any of these meals so I could eat more of the dishes - I was very tempted to ask for a bowl, mind, but in the end I was glad I didn't as it might have spoilt my appetite for the next course.
Steamed Orange filled with crab meat and roe was absolutely sensational, an intoxicating mix of beautiful, lush crab meat, rich eggy crab roe, sweet orange, and finally, on the plate outside of the orange, acidic shaoxing wine to be added to taste. It was a superb combination - the undoubted highlight of a meal filled with many highs.
Finally, the waitress came out to tell us that the Traditional style "Dongpo" pork served with chestnut pancakes, had "failed". Apparently the dish involved a layered presentation and the layering had not worked, and it was too late in the evening to redo it. She offered to serve the dish anyway, without any charge, and with our understanding that the presentation would not be up to scratch, or she would, regrettably, have to cancel it. We asked for it to be served, and in the form it came, we would never have known that the presentation had not succeeded had we not been told beforehand. If you're a regular reader of this blog and think you've seen this photo before, you're not wrong - we had an identical presentation at Zhiweiguan - except it was not the Dongpo Pork, but a slightly different pork preparation; the dish at Zhiweiguan that looked like a pagoda was the Gold-medal braised sliced pork, while the Dongpo Pork at Zhiweiguan, as at pretty much everywhere else but here, was served as a whole piece of belly pork. Presentation aside, the pork here was absolutely delicious.
For dessert, Soya Bean Pudding with Longan and Honey was delightful - smooth as silk, light, nice and sweet but not overly so, and rather refreshing too thanks to the longan. A fitting end to a wonderful meal.
In a nutshell... On this trip, we had the great privilege of eating at a number of the best restaurants in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Hong Kong, including a 3 Michelin Star establishment, and 28 Hubin Road was, quite possibly, the very best.
28 Hubin Road Hyatt Regency Hangzhou, 28 Hubin Road, Hangzhou, 310006, China +8657187791234 Average Price: RMB400-RMB450