Sichuan pepper is integral to our cuisine here at Hutong, with many dishes using the hot spice, such as for our signature dish the Red Lantern and in our Ma La sauce. Sichuan Pepper is a key ingredient in Sichuan cooking.
Our Bars manager Francesco enjoys taking inspiration from his surroundings. He believes that the cocktail list should be an important part of a guests experience, therefore it needs to work with the food and the feel of the restaurant.
Each of the cocktails uses at least one of the spices that are predominant in our kitchen.
For our latest ‘Meet the Team’ we spoke to Francesco, our new Bar manager for Hutong. We found out what inspires him, how he got to where he is, and his favourite places to go on his days off.
Francesco, how did you begin your career as a bartender?
Whilst I was studying in Italy, I was working part time in the kitchen of a restaurant. One evening one of the bartenders cut himself and was unable to work, and I got thrown in behind the bar to cover the busy night. I loved it. I loved the contact with people, the music, the environment. It felt like being on a stage.
For three months, after I finished my shift in the kitchen, I would work behind the bar – for free! I then changed course and took a professional hospitality courses in Italy. Read more +
We have a new dish on our a la carte menu – a poached monkfish and lamb broth. This dish takes on an unusual property of being both warming and ‘fresh’, with clean flavours and a rich depth, it is finished with goji berries to give a zest to the dish. The lamb enriches the broth without overpowering the fish, and that monkfish is particularly good to use as the texture and flavour stand up to lamb.
The ‘Double Fifth Festival’ is also known by other names such as Duanwu Festival or Dragon Boat Festival, but due to the festival falling on the fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese calendar, it has gained the popular name of ‘Double Fifth’.
There are various legends about the origins of this festival. The most familiar story is in regards to observing the death of poet Chu Yuan, who drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 278 B.C. Dragon boat races are held on this day, symbolic of the attempt to rescue Chu Yuan.
The sunshine is back – fingers crossed it stays! Summer in the city of London can be a wonderful time of walks along the South Bank, visiting food markets, sitting in Hutong and looking over the City. Our Bars manager Francesco Turro has tweaked the recipe for our Hainan Island cocktail, a perfect drink for a summer’s day, so that you can make it at home, and in a way that it can be shared with friends.
Our cocktail Hainan Island is named because its refreshing nature conjures up island holidays, in tropical locations. Hainan Island is an island off the coast of Southern China, and is a popular holiday spot with white sand beaches, beautiful scenery and a warm climate all year round.
Earlier this month Head Chef Bing Luo was on the Kitchen Live stage at Grand Designs demonstrating one of his favourite dishes, Sichuan pickled chilli scallops.
Scallops are one of Bing’s favourite ingredients, but the recipe is versatile depending on your preference – you can use shellfish, fish, pork, stir-fried tofu or root vegetables. This also means that you can make a large batch of the sauce and keep in the fridge for a few days. Read more +
Mongolia is a land-locked, mountainous country bordered by China to the south and Russia to the north. Its cuisine, which takes some influences from China, is dictated by the extreme continental climate, where winters can be as cold as -40 – vegetables are scarce, so dishes tend to be feature solely meat or dairy, with little accompaniment.
This Mongolian-style rack of lamb is one of our most popular dishes, enhancing traditional preparation with a more spice- and vegetable-rich marinade and sauce than Mongolia’s climate would allow. Read more +
We took a few moments to catch up with Head Sommelier Francisco Nevot on why he loves working in hospitality and his wine tips for all our guests in Hutong.
What inspired you to work in the industry?
It’s always been in my family. My aunt had a hotel in Spain where I grew up which had a lovely restaurant. I helped out when I was younger and worked there in the summers when I was at university.
How did you become a sommelier?
I started my career as a commis waiter at Galvin. I met a Spanish sommelier there who introduced me to the world of wine. He spent a lot of time with me, teaching me and letting me taste a lot of new wines I was not familiar with. I decided I wanted to be a sommelier and studied for my WSET courses. When I qualified I moved to Bluebird as a commis sommelier, I got promoted to sommelier quite quickly and really enjoyed my time there. I really developed when I worked at China Tang, there was an amazing sommelier team and my passion for wine just grew. Read more +