[Photos: Patricia Chang]
After 18 years, Betelnut closed last month to redecorate and reconcept itself, reemerging earlier this week as Hutong. The Real Restaurants group and chef Alexander Ong remain on board, and the vibe has shifted from haute Chinese to graffiti-splattered (befitting the narrow Beijing alleyways for which the restaurant was named). Old Chinese newspapers cover the walls, as well as a handful of Banksy prints, while artist Tim the Optimist contributed the signature graffiti. (When not decorating swanky Cow Hollow restaurants, he sidelines in railway cars.)
The updated menu spans a range of Asian cuisines, as opposed to Betelnut's more Chinese focus: there's Japanese-style kampachi sashimi with lemon ponzu, Malaysian-style chicken wings, short ribs with Thai basil, and Indian-inspired naan with paneer. The overall vibe is small plates, with all items under $15 and the vast majority under $9. And if you can't live without Betelnut's much-loved beggar's chicken, fret not; Ong will still prepare it if you call and order a day in advance. See the full menu here.
On the drinks side, the previous tiki-inspired menu has been scrapped in favor of a more balanced program, with a heavy emphasis on lighter, sweeter drinks that riff on classics like the Moscow Mule and the Cosmopolitan. Other drinks incorporate Asian flavors, like a Thai basil gimlet and a sambal-infused bloody mary. Every drink is $11; see the full cocktail menu here.
Opening hours are 5-10 pm daily, except Saturday, when the restaurant will stay open until 11 pm. There's also weekend brunch Friday-Sunday, starting at 11:30 am.
· Betelnut Transforming Into Small-Plates Concept, Hutong [~ ESF ~]