From New York to London, Frankfurt to Tokyo, glossy, glassy buildings such as Beijing's World Financial Center (WFC) can be found. Business interests and interest rates may divide the clergy at such temples of wealth, but if there’s one thing that finance folk the world over can agree on, it’s the need for a delicious lunch. Fortunately for those at the WFC, Hudson’s doing it right.
Originally opened in 2017 towards the finer end of dining, the restaurant has in recent months repositioned itself as a ‘Manhattan bistro’, and a more accessible à la carte menu now sees most dishes clock below the 80RMB mark and larger plates sitting in the mid-100s, though oyster splurges or more girthsome grills will, of course, set you back further pennies. Its lunch deal (two courses, 128RMB; three courses, 168RMB), however, is the star, and saw the restaurant scoop up a gong at our recent Food Awards.
Behind this shift is chef David Tan, formerly of Napa
, who worked with Bangkok-based Australian chef Dallas Cuddy to craft a menu befitting of its billing as a stateside bistro. The restaurant space itself also got a little refresh – well appointed with deep reds, brushed woods and gold fittings, there’s a measured, understated opulence to it; a few tables out front in the WFC lobby also offer pleasant perches (despite being in a lobby).
On our visit, summer swelt dictates that we start with a cold dish, and we opt for the raw mackerel (78RMB). Diced with pickled cucumber, and served alongside a dill-tinged crème fraiche, a hint of lime adds a pleasing citrus hit for an all-round refreshing kick-off. We follow it up with a plate of white asparagus (78RMB); four tender stalks topped with salmon roe bathe in a milky foam, alongside a soft boiled egg and pieces of fluffy brioche, all of which comes together for another flavoursome success.
The indulgence ramps up a little with the cured beef and polenta bowl (58RMB). A base layer of beef forms a basin within which a liberal serving of rich polenta sits; our waiter arrives to top it with a similarly liberal squirting of cauliflower foam, and shavings of truffle. It’s delicious, though it does end up a touch too creamy, and an almost overwhelming portion.
We draw the savoury to a close with the duck steak (158RMB), which must have come from one formidable beast, as we’ve rarely seen a chunk of quacker breast so thick. Cooked to tender, medium-rare perfection with a crispy, fatty casing, it’s rich and juicy, and the accompanying beetroot and quinoa salad is a pleasingly light partner.
True to Manhattan form, the menu rounds off with the requisite New York cheesecake (48RMB) and a decent take on the apple pie (58RMB), but special mention must go to the ‘Snickers’ (58RMB). A creamy, frozen peanut butter slab with a cheesecake-like texture, is lathered with salted caramel, dusted with extra salt flakes and punctured with a crisp chocolate wafer. It’s an outstanding homage to – nay, an elevation of – one of the world’s finest chocolate bars.
Qualms to be had with Hudson would be in its opening hours and palpable business atmos – its closure on weekends does it a disservice, maybe even relegating it to the less attractive realm of being a stylish canteen for finance workers. In that vein, a similar venture out of the finance centre and into the big bad city from this team, one that might remove the oh-so-corporate edge, would certainly have us coming back for more on the regular. For now though, should you find yourself in the CBD around lunch or dinner, then you’d certainly do well to stop at Hudson.