What’s on the menu at Hutaoli, Markham’s Chinese version of Hard Rock Cafe

What’s on the menu at Hutaoli, Markham’s Chinese version of Hard Rock Cafe

Name: Hutaoli
Contact: #1-3760 Hwy 7 E., Markham, 365-608-5333, hutaolitoronto.com, @hutaolitoronto
Neighbourhood: Markham
Owner: Kaitlyn Zhang

The food

Hutaoli is one of the latest Chinese chains to open a Toronto location. The popular spot for spicy Sichuan plates and live music is offering Canadians all the mega mainland hits. A few of the dishes, though, have been tweaked a bit—not because the chefs thought Toronto palates needed coddling, but because certain ingredients (like the cheese used on the durian pizza) weren’t available here.

This shrimp-and-chili plate is one of the few dishes that’s only found at the Toronto Hutaoli location. $21.


This eggplant is lightly battered then deep fried. $14.


Okra with soy sauce and wasabi. $9.


Fresh durian is cooked down before it’s blended and used as the sauce on this cheese-topped pie. $18.


This piquant jellyfish dish has some serious sting. $10.


Cauliflower with Chinese bacon. $16.


Sliced beef and tongue in chili sauce. $11.


This pickled-cabbage fish soup is piled high with chilies, and gets some added spice from Sichuan peppercorns. $31.


This is the signature Hutaoli dish. The chicken is marinated for eight hours in a blend of 12 spices before going in the oven. The bird arrives to the table—in a cage. It’s then sprinkled with crushed peanuts and pulverized with a wooden mallet. $19.


Commence pulverization.


The drinks

Signature cocktails, some beer and a selection of worldly wines (bottles of which are priced around the $50 mark). Instead of pop, Hutaoli serves fresh juices and house-brewed iced teas.

The Flaming Lips is found at all Hutaoli locations. The rose petal- and sugar-garnished flute is filled with a mix of lemon, vodka, and black currant and raspberry juices. $11.99.


A mojito. $11.99.


The signature sangria is made with red wine, Triple Sec, melon liqueur and a blend of juices (pineapple, apple, orange). $11.99.


Imported beers include Fruli. $9.


The space

Hutaoli is basically the Chinese Hard Rock Cafe: a restaurant chain that fuses music and food, with a stage anchoring every one of the 400-plus locations. The 200-seat room is decked out in faux greenery: fern chandeliers, ivy-festooned walls and wildflower-filled jugs. A random assortment of tchotchkes like vintage TVs, bird cages, lanterns and Grecian-style busts, give the 6,300-square-foot room a quirky, Alice in Wonderland-like air. Chairs upholstered with images of suit-sporting anthropomorphic hares and harts add to the Lewis Carroll vibe, while two cottages hanging from the ceiling (made to look like traditional ’60s-era Chinese houses) complete the surreal aesthetic.

There are poems scrawled all over the place: on bowls, plates and projected onto the floors. The poets include popular Chinese bards such as Li Bai and Yu Li, as well as translated stuff from Victor Hugo.


Here’s some live music.