Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hu Tong Dumpling Bar

Hu Tong
14-16 Market Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Ph : (03) 9650 8128

Situated opposite the much lauded Flower Drum, the three-level Hu Tong has become one of Melbourne’s most popular CBD restaurants and Xiao Long Bao destinations. In the mood for some food of the dumpling kind, I made my way there for an early lunch at about noon. Apparently, noon isn’t early by Hu Tong standards, as they were already almost-full, and within about 15 minutes or so after my arrival, they had to turn people away.

Comfortably ensconced at a window table and fairly hungry despite the early hour, I decided to go with old favourites instead of ordering dumplings (no, XLB are not dumplings, 'bao' means 'bun'), both as a point of comparison and because sometimes, all you need is comfort food. Preferably involving a chilli kick.

Xiao Long Bao ($11.80)

Nicely pleated and looking as though they had little skirts, the XLB were borderline scorchingly hot, just as I like them. The skin nicely translucent, the filling juicy, well seasoned, and the burst of a good clear flavoursome broth (with added vinegar) just what I needed. Some of the better XLBs I’ve had in Australia.

Hot and Sour soup ($6.00)

A good sized serving (enough for two bowls), this is what I’d been hanging out for. The balance between the ‘hot’ and the ‘sour’ seems to be a somewhat subjective thing. I suspect I like mine a fraction more sour than most. In any event, this example wasn’t bad at all, with a reasonable amount of chilli, an absence of the too-much-added-cornflour syndrome, and some nice depth to it. Not amongst my top hot and sour soup experiences, but then again I have found it difficult to find a good one in Sydney, and I’d consider ordering the Hu Tong one again if I was there.

Spring onion pancake ($6.50)

More attractively presented than that in many places (though smaller in quantity) and touted as a ‘house special’, the pancake’s layers were light and crisp but not too oily. The amount of spring onions fairly decent; too few and the pancake becomes a tad on the bland side. Not inexpensive, but as it was a lot better than some I've had in the past year, worth it.

All in all, the location of Melbourne’s most popular XLB was a pleasant experience both food and service wise, and I’d be happy to revisit Hu Tong on any future trip to Melbourne. 


HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon


George said...

Good review of one of Melbourne's better dumpling houses. Here's hoping that I can still get a seat next time I decide to visit!

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

Oooh, that pancake looks great. Agree - there are many mediocre versions around.

Anonymous said...

Ok thats it, dumplings again for me today ;-)

NickO said...

We're at their Prahran restaurant on a regular basis (most recently tonight). Love the XLB, and nearly everything else on the menu.

The Sydney Tarts said...

@George - thanks! Hope you manage to visit, just be prepared to eat early, is my advice.
@Tina - what is it with so many mediocre pancakes? I don't get it.
@JPVFX - were the dumplings good?
@NickO - have you been to the CBD one as well? And if so, which branch do you prefer?