HuTong Dumpling Bar
14 -16 Market Lane, Melbourne Vic 3000
Phone: (03) 9650 8128
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.