Every so often, a restaurant comes along that feels like a breath of fresh air, a place that seems to get things correct, right from the start. That restaurant is Hello27, a casual, healthy eating restaurant that opened a few months ago at Hangzhou’s EAC center, opposite Burger King, next to Watson’s.
Hello27 has an eclectic menu with enough variety to satisfy foreign as well as local customers. The food is creative and well-prepared using fresh, high-quality ingredients and at friendly prices. Most importantly of all, at the center of everything is an owner, Hong Feng, who loves to eat.
Hong Feng, had first opened a fine-dining restaurant in his native town of Jinhua to get a feel for running a restaurant before opening here. The Chinese words on the sign over Hello27’s entrance roughly translates as, “Michelin style, casual kitchen”. Indeed, the chef at Hello27 was originally a sous chef at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo, a Michelin 2-starred Italian restaurant in Shanghai.
Hong Feng’s idea for this restaurant is to have roots in fine-dining for inspiration and technique, but to serve the food in a casual, no-nonsense way. The menu offers staples like sandwich wraps, soups, salads, pastas, as well as some chef’s specials like Duck Confit (98RMB) or Australian beef short ribs (178RMB).
Let’s jump right into it and talk about that duck confit. I must confess that I’ve never eaten duck confit before, but I’ve watched enough cooking shows to know how it should be made and Hello27’s duck confit is just how I imagined it would be. The duck leg has been slowly cooked in duck fat, in an oven at low temperature, making the meat very tender. Then the leg is pan-fried till the skin is crispy, further rendering away some fat. As I cut into the duck leg, I could feel how thin and crispy the skin was. There was just a thin layer of fat left between the skin and the meat. The soft duck meat was infused with an extra hit of duck flavour from being cooked in duck fat. On the side was a small piece of pan-seared foie gras. This dish is heaven for duck lovers.
From the pastas, we had the delicious Kelp Crab Meat Angelhair pasta (55RMB), an Asian flavoured aglio olio pasta topped with flaky morsels of Alaskan crab legs. The olive oil had lobster shells cooked in it to give it more seafood flavour and bits of konbu (Japanese seaweed), garlic and green onions added an Asian twist.
The Chicken & Avocado Laffa Wrap Salad/with Yogurt Sauce (48RMB) had a delightful mix of fresh vegetables, teriyaki chicken, fluffy laffa bread and a sweet yogurt sauce made with rice alcohol that tied it all together.
We would definitely like to come back to try other items on the menu. We also spotted a flyer advertising a handsome Beef Wellington for 388RMB, order 48 hours in advance and recommended to share with 2-3 people.
The menu at Hello27 will continually change, in particular, they will move further away from fine-dining and into casual meals and that duck confit I wrote about will sadly be taken off the menu after Chinese New Year.
There are craft beers available on tap and bottled such as Goose Island IPA and Tasteroom, a local Hangzhou brewery. Customers can help themselves to free espresso or Americano’s from the coffee machine. Fresh squeezed juice blends (22-26RMB) and smoothies (28RMB) also available.
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