112 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Phone: (03) 9663 1878
Ambience: 2/10 (we were given seats at a rather shabby spot)
Service: 3/10 (efficient, lotsa self-service)
I 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 various recommendations, I finally found Shanghai Village! Ironically, it is located right opposite Market Lane where HuTong is. The exterior of SV is kinda tacky and tasteless (although it is situated in a pretty Victorian-style building): filled with de-colourised pictures of the food available, big red words and tiny prints of the menu.
When we walked up to SV around 630, there was already a bee line outside its door. We had to wait a good 20 minutes in the cold before we were shown into the restaurant. On the very first glance, it looked like any other Chinese restaurants with red walls and oriental decorations. The waitress directed us to a corner, telling us that our seats were upstairs. We went up this dodgy looking staircase and were faced with this massive number of people! It sounded like a road side coffee house and there were just walls painted in blocks of white and red.
J and I decided to order several of their signature dishes and they were offering them at affordable prices! 😛 First up, we had XLB, they are known as Shanghai Mini Steam Pork Buns at SV. The presentation was not fantastic but the skin was so much THINNER and nicer than HuTong’s! The soup wrapped in each one was flavorsome and went well with the meat.
Next, we had chicken and prawn fried dumplings. They were awesome, the filling is quite a novel combination I must say. Even though they were fried, the chicken and prawn maintained their juiciness and on the very first bite, the juice burst right in your mouth. Not only that, the skin was not thick and disgusting/indigestible as those from HuTong, I did not have to discard the skin and dig out the filling! I am really satisfied with the dumplings! 😀
I was craving for some fried pancakes with spring onion. The last time I had some good ones was back in Taiwan a few years ago. 😦 The pancake at SV was a tad too dry but they managed to maintain the nice aroma of the spring onions.
Lastly, we had pork stripes in sweet and sour sauce with noodle soup. OMG! I finally found something that tasted almost like my favourite pork ribs dish in Singapore! The sweetness made the plain noodles a heavenly dish! NOM! The pork was tender and succulent with the outer layer done nicely, dipped in the wonderful sauce. Maybe a few pieces of cucumber will brighten up the dish. =]
Overall, I will recommend foodies who are in search of delicious XLB and dumplings to go to Shanghai Village instead of HuTong (for now). Everyone knows that it is crucial for these two dishes to be thin but juicy at the same time. SV managed to do them just fine, however, I reckon that they should work on their interior design, service and plating. I know I should not be so fussy at a cheap eatery but to keep patrons coming back for more, it is necessary!