One of the delights about living in Hangzhou for as long as I have is seeing the city expand and develop in real time, witnessing the opening up of frontiers that did not exist a few years ago. When Hangzhou Metro line 5 opened in 2019 there weren’t many reasons to trek out that way as it was mostly tech campuses and the like that had only recently been established over repurposed farmland. HCOFFEE is a fantastic new edition to the west side of town, and while normally I’d be bemoaning that it’s so far from my normal haunt, it’s just a 15 minute walk from the Wuchang Station and there are many excellent reasons beyond that convenience to check it out.
I love coffee. I *need* coffee. I can tolerate swill, and unfortunately many coffee shops in China focus more on the artisanal styling of the furnishings than they do the quality of their bean. HCOFFEE has a damn fine cup of coffee.
When I say coffee, I mean black coffee. Many people who “love coffee” love a Frappuccino and barely know what coffee tastes like, HCOFFEE has a damn fine cup of real coffee.
Also, they have a damn fine cup of “Whiskey Latte” which while basically being a dessert drink is an evolution on Irish coffee; treat it as an aperitif, and give it a try as it’s only 32RMB. (Real coffee is 22RMB for an Americano or 30RMB for a pour-over. The beans are roasted by HCOFFEE and sold by the bag at 75-85RMB for 200 grams)
On to the food, I started with the Muse Salad (58RMB), an excellent starter with arugula, Iberian ham, hazelnut and almond chips in a passion fruit dressing laid like a garland around a beautifully poached egg, which when pierced incorporated beautifully into the sauce. This was followed by two excellent soups, Goulash (48RMB), and my favorite, a Creamy Mushroom Soup with Black Truffle (38RMB), whose bowl I absolutely sponged dry with bread before moving on. We also enjoyed the Signature Roast Chicken, which has delicately crisp skin over perfectly moist meat, a balance that isn’t easy to strike if you don’t know what you’re doing, and at 48RMB is a steal.
The one thing I actually anticipated was the Buffalo wings (48RMB), which I had experienced prior. These are simply the best Buffalo wings—and the best wings in general—I have had in Hangzhou. They’re made with Frank’s RedHot and generously slathered in sauce while maintaining a moist crunch. I like my wings very wet and I prefer to be gasping for breath halfway through the six wing portion so don’t be ashamed to ask for them with less sauce, coward. These wings by themselves are a singularly sufficient reason to go to HCOFFEE and when Metro Line 3 opens next to them I’ll be going there even more frequently than I already do. You people on the West side have a great establishment here.
There is more.
I’m on the record as hating hotpot in China, and this may give people the mistaken impression that I hate Sichuan food which is honestly not the case, it’s just that it’s all THE SAME. HCOFFEE has two startlingly delicious Sichuan-peppercorn’d dishes that made me feel like The Grinch realizing the true meaning of Christmas:
The Sichuan Pepper Chicken Ciabatta Sandwich (39RMB) is a Simply Very Good Chicken Sandwich with a completely fantastic twist which you can read about in the name.
The Angel Hair Pasta w/Shredded Chicken Sichuan Style (38RMB) is a deceptively simple dish to look at and experience, but is simply sublime in execution; consider the spaghetti aglio e olio prepared for Scarlett Johansson in the movie Chef and rather than chili flakes, substitute in a perfectly subtle málà seasoning.
Finally yeah we had dessert, their in-house made Tiramisu (28RMB) is exactly what you want a tiramisu to be, which tautologically is tasting like tiramisu, you’ll love it. Another is the Sea Salt Cheesecake at 32RMB, which beyond being a great capstone for the whole meal had an excellent cookie crust, just one last subtle but unexpected delight in a meal full of them. Enjoy!
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