A dinner in Mulu provides hope for the hutongs. Not to be confused with the restaurant of the same name that occupied the same space three years ago, Mulu mark two has been taken under new management and offers an elegantly casual dining option in an area with few other options.
Walking in, we’re greeted by a quaint stone courtyard, flanked by a small dining room full of exposed wooden beams, and topped with a miniature roof terrace that will make for a pleasant summer spot, assuming the place survives that long. The vibe here is similar to Susu
, the Vietnamese restaurant further south in the hutongs, but Mulu is smaller and less polished, and more homely for it.
Mulu meals (and chefs) hail from across Southeast Asia, with reasonably priced dishes such as Malaysian chicken curry (48RMB) and Thai fried noodles with shrimps (38RMB). We opt for a Thai chicken coconut soup (48RMB) with rice, which has generous chunks of perfectly cooked chicken amid strong, fresh flavours of chilli, lemongrass and ginger. The unadulterated chunks of these three are a bit of a toothsome surprise and might be better off removed before serving, but the dish is otherwise well balanced, creamy and light. The Vietnamese pork and shrimp spring rolls (22RMB) are also a winner, in that they are spring rolls, but the deep-fried pastry is crunchy and brittle and the accompanying chilli sauce is just the right side of pungent.
It’s encouraging to find any new restaurant opening in the beleaguered hutongs, especially one as pleasant at this. For a quiet, classy weeknight dinner, Mulu would be a good bet. Follow up with a drink and Capital Spirits
across the road, and a gig at DDC
round the corner, and you’ll wonder why you ever left the hutongs.
By Amy Hawkins