foodcautious

my love for food has blossomed to an uncontrollable stage.

Answer to the supremacy? Unlikely. February 27, 2011

Filed under: Chinese,Okay for the pocket,Under consideration — Lydia @ 3:44 AM

RESTAURANT SUMMARY

HuTong Dumpling Bar

14 -16 Market Lane, Melbourne Vic 3000

Phone: (03) 9650 8128

RATINGS

Ambience: 7.5/10

Food: 6/10

Service: 5.5/10

REVIEW

This is one of  the more well-known and established Chinese restaurants in Melbourne. It is situated along Market Lane together with Shoya and Flower Drum. Having read many fellow foodie blog posts and recommendations by several people, I decided to give it a try as I was having this insane craving for Xiao Long Bao. HuTong supposedly serves the best XLB in the whole of Victoria for your information! As a “safety” measure, I made a booking several days in advance as I was told that if you don’t, you might be in for a long wait and sometimes they even turn customers away! >.< Luckily, I managed to secure their last booking (according to the lady over the telephone) at 8.30pm on Vday.

We rocked up to HuTong 20 minutes before my reservation. It looked kinda empty from the outside and you won’t believe that a 3 storey establishment is hidden in there.

The interior has a very oriental feel to it and reminded me of the Din Tai Fung flagship shop in Taipei (they only have a branch in Australia, which is in Sydney! T_T)! Upon arrival, we were shown to the 2nd level where we were dining elbow to elbow with the customers next to us. I think it was too cram for my liking. Not only that, due to the constraint in space, when all the dishes were served up, we had to rearrange our plates and utensils in order to make space. It was like playing Tetris all over again. Horrible much?

The first dish of the night was one of HuTong’s signature dishes: Braised Pork Belly. The sauce and meat were done to perfection, with a twist of pickles (榨菜) hidden underneath! The pork belly was so soft, succulent and chewy! Ohoh, it actually had a tiny winy bit of spiciness in the harmless looking sauce! How subtle! lol.

Next, we had the honey prawns. The skin was so sweet and crispy! However, the prawns themselves ain’t very interesting or tasty, just BLAND! What a let down?

Okay, time to take a deep breath for the VIP of the night! I have been dreaming day and night for these XLB. Finally, they were right in front of my face. Picking one delicately with my chopsticks, fearing that it will break open, I gave it a tiny bite. Gross! The skin was so THICK! I seriously do not understand why some bloggers and critics actually said that the skin was THIN! I would strongly recommend them and everyone else to try the XLB from Din Tai Fung (provided you’re in Sydney, Taiwan, Singapore, China,  Los Angeles  or flying up to any of these countries/cities for some reasons!). The thing that saved this dish was the meat, it was not bad. Remember to eat them while they are hot!

The final dish of the night was pan-fried dumplings. They were so much worse than the XLB. The skin was too thick for my liking and the meat stuffing in them did not seem to be cooked properly. I gave up eating the whole dumpling and ended up digging the meat out to finish them.

All in all, I am rather disappointed with the standard of XLB and the pan fried dumplings, especially so for a restaurant that specializes in them! However, if you will like to have some yummy Chinese dishes for a good dinner, you are definitely welcome to give HuTong a visit.

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

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3 Responses to “Answer to the supremacy? Unlikely.”

  1. [...] have been on the hunt for quality Xiao Long Bao after my nightmare at HuTong back on Valentine’s Day. Reading fellow foodie blogs extensively and asking my colleagues for [...]

  2. James Cheng Says:

    Hello,

    I disagree with your assessment about the SLB at Hu-Tong. I am a SLB tragic from Taiwan.

    My tasting of the Din Tai Fong stores outside of Taipei (Singapore, KL, Sydney) were all disappointg because the skin were all much thicker than that of the Taipei original and even thicker than Hu-Tong’s.

    These DTF stores even commit the cardinal sin of having the twist at the top so lumpy that it tased like it was not cooked.

    My complaint about HT is that the broth inside is too thick and tastes ‘fatty’, so the richness is not balanced by lightness (a function of not enough ginger/shallot and too much coagulent/fat in the mince mix)

    Am interested in your assessment of the broth.

    Regards,

  3. Lydia Says:

    Hi James,
    Thanks for your response. Indeed, Din Tai Fung in Taipei serves the best rendition of the classic dish. I reckon the outlet at Paragon, Singapore, is actually not bad too. As for Sydney, it is the only one in Australia, you can’t really be too picky and they have to use local produce to make the very same XLB.

    HuTong’s skin is slightly thicker but based on what I know it is how some parts of China like it done. As for the broth at HT, it is too oily and gets a bit disgusting when you have too much.

    For now, if you will like something light, I will recommend you to give Shanghai Village a try. With the price you pay, I think it is passable for now.

    Cheers,
    Lydia


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