Hutaoli Music Restaurant & Bar
Hutaoli is a suave restaurant for Chinese eats, cocktails, and live music.
With more than 400 locations of this popular music bar scattered overseas, this 6,300-square-foot space marks the Hutaoli's first restaurant in the Toronto area.
As is customary for this whimsical brand, this bustling location at Markham Town Square comes dripping in faux greenery, with plastic vines adorning the space and fake ferns hanging off the walls.
The interior of this space is really beautiful, despite it being a hodgepodge of themes like bird cages and kitschy upholstery.
Open only in the evenings, Hutaoli is meant to be an after-work reprieve and gathering place for people to relax and enjoy some live music, sort of like an Asian Hard Rock Cafe.
It's likely going to be packed, especially on weekends, when you can expect waits of half an hour or more.
Acting as the centrepiece for the restaurant is an elevated stage with a full sound system where professional solo musicians play from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m nightly, after which a band picks up from 9 p.m. onward.
A massive ten-foot-tall screen behind lets guests project scrolling messages through their WeChat app while the guitarist sings acoustic versions of Jay Chou hits.
The menu consists of many spicy dishes made Sichuan-style, but in general covers a wide array of Chinese dishes.
A signature dish is the House Special Roast Chicken ($19), a salty chicken marinated in 12 different spices.The meal, which arrives in a thematically apropos bird cage, is sprinkled with peanuts before being smashed together with a wooden mallet.
Another signature dish is a giant bowl of boiled fish ($28.99) full of pickled cabbage, chilli, and Sichuan peppercorns. It's a very traditional dish served with vermicelli noodles.
Durian pizza ($17.99) uses this ultra stinky fruit that's loved by some and despised by others to a sweet component to a personal-sized cheese pizza.
An interesting take on paella ($22.99) uses a deliciously crispy Spanish rice made with black squid ink, shrimps, and pineapple.
Steamed chicken with chilli sauce ($9.99) is another Szechuan classic.
More chilli sauce comes with a small appetizer of okra ($9.99).
Brown sugar crispy rice cakes ($7.99) are chunks of chewy rice that are nicely sweet.
As for drinks, the Flaming Lips ($11.99) is undoubtedly one of the most popular on the menu.
Available at all Hutaoli locations wordwide, this pretty drink comes with lemon, vodka, blackcurrant, and raspberry juices. Just be careful with its sticky and sugar rose petal garnishing.
Signature sangria ($11.99) is a boozy mix of red wine, triple sec, and fruit juices that comes in a copper cup.
Hutaoli comes through on its promise for nighttime relaxation with a relaxing vibe, great decor, and fun food. Catch the staff at the right time and they might even do a song-and-dance performance for you sometime during your stay.