Long enough to make a really good scotch. Long enough for a human child to turn into a human adult. And, apparently, long enough for chef Alex Ong to decide it’s time to shake things up at his Union Street institution.
And then came Hutong, the glorious reimagining of Betelnut and Chef Ong’s ode to the back alleys and side streets of Asia in the form of kampachi-sashimi-and-jalapeño-vinegar-lamb-belly deliciousness, opening Monday in Cow Hollow.
Herewith: what was then and what is now...
Then: Posters of Betelnut beer girls and red silk hung from dark wood walls. May as well have been the set of a 1930s Shanghai film in there.
Now: Walls plastered with graffiti, newsprint and Chinese call girl ads. So... casual.
Then: Unattached comely people quaffing tiki cocktails garnished with pink umbrellas.
Now: Unattached comely people quaffing classic cocktails with five-spice and yuzu in them. You see, the cocktails are classier now, and... never mind.
Then: Chef Ong’s famous Szechuan green beans. And a bunch of other stuff.
Now: A secret, unwritten menu of Ong’s personal favorites. Just ask and you shall receive. Don’t worry, though, the green beans aren’t going anywhere.
Seriously, don’t worry.