Melbourne – Day 3 – Part 2
14-16 Market Lane
Auntie knew exactly what she wanted for lunch and guided us to HuTong Dumpling Bar. HuTong is an area in Beijing China that consists of small alley ways (kind of similar to the laneways in Melbourne but very different culturally). Tucked in an alleyway in Melbourne is this little restaurant.
We arrived just before the lunch rush and were seated upstairs at a large round table in the well decorated restaurant. The whole place looked as though we had walked into China (but the air and atmosphere are much much cleaner), I guess that’s the point right?
Auntie had a few recommendations, but she pretty much gave me and Yunti the menu and told us to order. And like little kids would, we mainly ordered fresh homemade dim sum. Plus this place is a dumpling bar right?
All of their dumplings are freshly made in the house from the traditional Chinese recipes (according to the menu)
Marked with a red stamp on the menu: “means our signature dish,” we got 2 orders of the 小籠包 Shao-long Bao (8 pieces) (East China).
I try really hard not to compare any 小籠包 Shao-long Bao we eat to Din Tai Fung. These were not over cooked, making sure that the soup is still sitting inside of the dumpling, does not break when I pick them with my chop sticks, and the soup is clearly visible when I poke into my dumpling. That is a good 小籠包 Shao-long Bao.
The 紅油抄手 Wontons with Hot Chili Sauce (8 pieces) (Szechuan) is something I discovered at Din Tai Fung. These wontons are not served in the noodle soups I’m used to having at Chinese noodle shops. Instead they’re drenched in a Chinese chili sauce.
At HuTong Dumpling Bar their hot chili sauce is actually much spicier then expected. I guess it really does carry the Szechuan spices from that region unlike Din Tai Fung (it’s not spicy at all, just oily).
Many enjoy their dumplings with a thin skin and unique fillings, but I personally hunger for boiled dumplings with thick doughy skin and a simple pork and vegetable filling.
These dumplings were exactly how I like them. 鮮肉水餃 Boiled Pork Dumplings (12 pieces)(North China), they also have a 6 piece option.
New Dish: 菠菜汁菜苗鮮蝦餃 Prawn Dumpling with Spinach (4 pieces) just looked pretty in the picture on the menu. I was actually sad they the dumplings were all slanted onto one side side of the bamboo steam dish.
I didn’t think this was worth trying. It was basically the 蝦餃 shrimp dumpling you would get at a typical canton dim sum restaurant for a fraction of the price. Is spinach that expensive? These 4 dumplings cost AU$9.50.
New Dish: 蟹肉水晶包 Steamed Crab Meat Dim Sum (4 pieces), we ordered just because it was a new dish. And it was not memorable at all.
This was dessert was what Auntie made sure ordered in addition to all of the dim sum dumplings we ordered. 豆沙鍋餅 Red Bean Paste Pan Cake.
And honestly if it wasn’t for Auntie, I would never have ordered it and missed out on this. I’m usually not a big fan of the red bean paste, but this was not overly sweet with that over whelming taste red bean paste can have (or am I the only one that feels that way). The flaky pan cake had a fun little crunch with each bit.
I can’t find this on the menu anymore! I guess it should stay off the menu. Our server actually had forgotten we even ordered this and I really should have just asked them to take it off our order instead of waiting for it.
I saw this drunken chicken dish and though my mom would appreciate it. It was just disappointing.
Over all this was an awesome meal! We didn’t really try any of their actual dishes to see how the stir fries are or any of the other traditional dishes are but these dumplings hit the spot. Especially since Yunti and I didn’t get to go try Din Tai Fung in Australia. We’ll save that for our next trip, apparently the hype for Din Tai Fung in Australia is not as big as it is here in California anymore.