Actually Pretty Awesome

Actually Pretty Awesome: Snap Peas and Short Ribs at Hutong

The snap peas with chiles and bacon at Hutong.
The snap peas with chiles and bacon at Hutong. Photo: J. Barmann/Grub Street

We get the feeling that in creating the new menu for Hutong — the more modern, spicy, and street-food-driven replacement for Betelnut that opened last month — chef Alex Ong took a look at the ever-popular Mission Chinese Food and said, “I can do better than that.” The food at Hutong is actually more polished than Mission Chinese, and not all Chinese in its influences, with things like Jalan Alor-style chicken wings from Malaysia, Japanese crudos, and Indian roti canai. But a few dishes, like the chile-laden snap peas with bacon and garlic, call to mind the kind of brash riffs on Szechuan cuisine that have made Danny Bowien a national food star, but which Ong has been pulling off for years at Betelnut, albeit under the anachronistic “fusion” label.

The snap peas are served chopped up, with pods and peas interspersed with crispy bacon, mung sprouts, finger-sized Szechuan chiles, and thick chives. It was way more than a side dish, even though vegetables were the star, and it made us see the humble snap pea in a new, and much spicier, light.

Then we should mention the sticky glazed beef short ribs that are served in a bowl by the half dozen. They’re a take on something similar Ong did at Betelnut with pork ribs, but these bring together the big, round, spicy flavors of the best Asian ribs and wings with the richest beef stew. The glaze is full of that punched up, salty-sweet-spicy combo of garlic, ginger, chiles, fish sauce, and black soy, and garnished with Thai basil for a hint of fresh anise. They’re chewy-tender, falling off the bone, and completely addictive.

The glazed short ribs.

Earlier on Actually Pretty Awesome:
Rainbow Trout at Rich Table
Crispy Chicken and Yuca Fries at Pica Pica Castro
Dungeness Crab Soup at Canteen
The Trick Dog at Trick Dog
The Fried Chicken Sandwich at Hi Tops
The Dungeness Crab Salad at Haven
Chicken Drums at Rickybobby
The Doc Hopper at Absinthe
The Burger at KronnerBurger
Bang Bang Chicken Wings at M.Y. China
’Fruit Loops’ at Chambers Eat + Drink
Smoked Pulled Goat at Southpaw
Manti Dumplings at Troya Fillmore
Flaming Sea Bass Roll at Elephant Sushi
Black Risotto With Uni and Egg at Prospect
Seared Salmon and Mussel Mashed Potatoes at Bisou
The Meatloaf at Jamber
Carrots at Commonwealth
Turducken at Honor Bar
Beggar’s Chicken at Betelnut
Lobster Bread Pudding and Smoked Cod at Maverick
Green Farro-Sausage Risotto at RN74
Vegan Charctuerie at Gather
Pickled Eggs at St. Vincent
Beef Tongue at Namu Gaji
Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken at Brasa
Green Garlic Bread at State Bird Provisions
A Dinner of Small Plates and the Duck Confit Salad at Frances
Duck Fat Chex Mix at Truck Stop Café
The Lamb Tongue Salad at Txoko
The Branzino and the Cucumber and Scallops at AQ
Dinner at Local Mission Eatery
Suckling Pig Sandwich at Sweet Woodruff
Crudités at Saison
The Roasted Broccoli Sandwich at Split Pea Seduction
The Buffalo Burger at Double Decker
Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas
The Cocktails at Outerlands
The Meatball Gigante and the Honey Pie at Tony’s Pizza
Three New Gins from St. George Spirits
The Fried-Chicken Sliders at The Lookout
The Tripe and the Pickles at Bar Tartine
Fried Chicken and Cornmeal Doughnuts at Beast & the Hare

Actually Pretty Awesome: Snap Peas and Short Ribs at Hutong