It’s hard to tell what Little Hutong actually is from the street. The front of the restaurant is dominated by a neon-lit sign, but the entry is simply a wall of wooden panelling. It looks like an exclusive nightclub, or a hideout for a syndicate of underground architects. The panelled facade shifts like the folds of an accordion to reveal an ornate alley of bar stools and timber tables.
The design comes from Aliza Teo, Little Hutong’s manager and an ex-architect, who opened the restaurant with her husband, Robert Fong. They wanted to reflect the street-style eating culture of Beijing and South East Asia. The menu is dominated by regular Malaysian street staples but also includes a few of Fong and co-owner Lukie Au’s Asian-fusion inventions.
On the Malaysian side, there’s a sweet rendang alongside buttery roti, a nasi lemak with thick homemade sambal and an unashamedly greasy kway teow. Teo and Fong are quick to recommend the cheh hoo, a textural mash of fried tofu, sweet potato gravy, crunchy sesame seeds, yam bean, jelly fish shards, cucumber and crushed peanuts. It’s an extremely popular Malaysian dish, strangely hard to find in Sydney.
The other half of the menu, which can be ordered tapas style or as mains, is mainly Japanese-inspired Asian fusion. There are little canapé-style discs of tuna or Hokkaido scallops with Japanese mayo, nori and quivering bonito flakes. The reimagined sang choy bow with shredded crab, egg, peanuts, dried scallops and pine nuts is a winner. Look out for head chef Aida Gan’s experimental pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth specials.
Shop 4, 2–8 Pine Avenue, Little Bay
(02) 8020 0779
Wed to Sat 5.30–10pm
Sun 11.30am–2.30pm and 5.30–10pm