Hangout is in a quiet cul-de-sac just off Huangushan Road as you approach Wensan Road from the south. It has charm reminiscent of the old Baishaquan area, and there’s an ancestral logic to this as the boss here is the former sous-chef of Provence. (To those of you relatively new to Hangzhou, the above reference is to a former quaint area called Baishaquan, and it had a nice French restaurant.) Hangout has the potential to be a worthy successor: I would highly recommend taking a date here, and I would equally recommend lounging around in their outside seating area with friends once the weather is permitting.
The food was all fantastically done and had a lot of nice surprises: I noticed some beef being dry-aged as I was scoping the place out before getting down to eating and pictures, and the chef informed me that it was on the menu for today’s feast, as well as a couple of siphon pots I had assumed were for coffee and had my eyebrows raised to find that they were for a soup.
Our first dish: the “Hangout Special Salad”, an absolute steal at 35RMB which is actually French duck liver, Spanish ham, matsutake mushroom, and sea urchin; I take issue with their naming conventions but anything reminiscent of foie gras gets and holds my attention. I was delighted to find that one of my friends hates liver, and was able to guiltlessly double up.
The “Siphonage Pot of Mushroom Chicken Soup” bridged the gap between the “salad” and what was to follow; this dish is a bit like a cocktail in terms of the importance and novelty of the presentation (and also it functioned as a nonalcoholic apertif); a chicken consommé is siphoned up into a glass vessel and then poured over a nugget of meat and mushrooms. Insofar as a soup can straddle the definitions of both food and drink, this is far more in the latter category. Treat it as such and enjoy it as such. It’s only 48RMB!
We started our main courses with the braised Boston lobster with handmade homemade pasta (188RMB); the name and the description overlap, but I must add that the seaweed and lobster sauce took it to another level and… to many this is nothing but to me this means everything: they de-shelled the lobster meat! I’m fundamentally a lazy person, and the more effort taken to consume a meal, the less I appreciate that meal (see also my hatred for xiaolongxia/crayfish). This was delicious and user-friendly!
We finally got to the beef, and it was excellent! Dry-aged is a treatment you don’t normally find this cheaply (158RMB), and it had the extra beefy, extra tender quality that aging method lends it. Another surprise is the black garlic it was served with (if you haven’t heard of black garlic, look it up! It’s a kind of aged garlic that takes on a date-like texture and stickiness and a significantly altered flavor). To anyone who wants to try something a little extraordinary, this is eminently worth trying.
Two more excellent highlights were (1) the Thai style pizza (128RMB), an absolute must-try for any pizza fan living in Hangzhou; a sauceless pizza that hits some really interesting and delicious flavor notes that you won’t find anywhere else around here and (2) the truffle porcini stewed Italian rice (88RMB), a fantastic risotto dish that is simply excellent: it’s a mushroom and Parmesan risotto coming from an eminently capable chef, it’s self-recommending!
I’m almost out of space so I’m underselling the juices and dessert we were served, but the former were fresh and delicious (just check out the pictures!) and the latter, an EXQUISITE raw chocolate cake (38RMB!) was the perfect way to end the meal.
I don’t have enough words to effusively praise this place; a last note: their alcohol menu includes beer and wine, with the beer being updated regularly. Also: ask about the hidden menu.
I had a really great time at Hangout; if you see me around I’ll be happy to talk it up any time.
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