You know the story of Gulliver’s Travels? Where he stumbles upon (literally) a little town full of little people – not a euphemism. They were about the size of his little finger – that saw him as a dangerous giant to be restrained? Well that’s how I felt most of the time as I was growing up, which then led me to be very afraid of the word “Little”.
So Little Hutong in Little Bay? Well, the irrational part of me half expected to arrive and find myself in a Gulliver-type situation. We were going to be very close to the water, after all.
Thankfully no such thing happened. In fact, Little Hutong was a fairly roomy restaurant, situated in a large, sprawling suburb. An airy dining room looked straight into an open kitchen, and a long bench ran along the length, dotted with tables along the way.
Quite pretty, and charming.
The food had an equally pretty and charming quality about it. Hawker-style dishes were plated in a restaurant-style fashion, which worked for some items more than others.
The Penang Cheh Hoo, $14, for example – a turnip/fritter/tofu/peanut salad topped with a sweet potato gravy/sauce – and was plated in a wide rimmed slate black plate. Quite a step up from the slap-it-on-a-plate style that most hawkers employ.
The Roti Cina with Slow Roast Crispy Pork Belly, $15.50, was a bao by any other name, Pretty good mix of flavours, but after I’ve had the wonderfully fluffy, light-as-air bao of Belly Bao, nothing else can compare.
Of course, when there’s Hainanese Chicken Rice on the menu, I’ve just gotta order it. I know that it’s never going to be as good as the $5-a-meal chicken rice I can get from Singapore, but really, it’s like a challenge that I must accept. I just HAVE TO. #FirstWorldProblems
The verdict? I’m actually quite impressed by the peripheral condiments that are often overlooked. Sure, the chicken wasn’t quite as silky and the rice wasn’t as punchy, but the chilli and ginger sauce was fresh, and the CHICKEN HAD DRESSING!! Woo!!
You don’t know how important that seemingly invisible soy/stock/chicken fat dressing is. It adds an extra layer of unctuousness to a juicy chicken, and soaks through the rice for maximum enjoyment. And Little Hutong is the first place in Sydney that I’ve seen that didn’t leave the chicken naked, and me wanting. Teehee.
But the piece de resistance of the whole lunch? This. Sakura in the air, $21, is a very posh plate of silky salmon, poached egg yolk, eel arancini, pickle salad, and Japanese mayo. Very sophisticated, but somewhat out of place on the humble menu.
Very expertly executed and balanced though, and should be the first thing that you order at Little Hutong. Kinda like a better version of a certain Breakfast at the Sakuma’s. But shhhh, don’t tell anyone that I said such a sacrilegious thing.
Little Hutong is a lovely local in a lovely neighbourhood, with really decent options on the menu. Sure, it’s not quite the truly gritty feel that I would want to accompany my true hawker experience, but not everyone wants to be sweating and crying into their food all at once. I’m just sad like that.
Shame that it’s all the way out in Little Bay, though. I would very much like to make another trip for the dinner menu.