Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hutong Dumpling Bar @ Market Lane, Melbourne

Having settled down in Brisbane for a good 3 months, Melbourne seems like a memorable good night's dream. Flashing back, i can't imagine how i went through that life changing move of packing my bags to uncertainty, but really if i had to do it again, i wouldn't hesitate in choosing Melbourne to do it all over again.   

So just when i thought all was done and dusted with Melbourne, i realised i still have some pictures that reminds me of my 3 months fling. 

Hutong is like a household name for eating some xiao long bao and dumplings. The place is so famous that if you take a look at Urbanspoon, there is a ridiculously long scroll of reviews by food bloggers. If you try stepping in on a normal weekday night without a reservation, you can dream on. 

The only chance of dining in is to either pop by at 5.30pm when the restaurant opens or call and make a reservation.

With that hype surrounding a place, the expectations are usually sky rocket high and as expected it fell flat even if the food was alright.


The "Wo Tip" was done nicely. You get the bottom crust that holds all the dumplings together on one plate. Juicy inside and with that crunchy bottom, this dish is worth ordering again. 


The Tung Po Yuk however was a massive let down. The meat was tender soft from braising but there was absolutely no flavour. It was as if it had been boiling away in coloured water.


Having eaten so many xiao long baos, including the famous Ding Tai Fung in Taipei, although i can't say of the ones in Shanghai; i cannot fathom what is a mind blowing xiao long bao because it is so subjective. As long as the skin is relatively thin enough (which in most cases, i find people always taking the usual route of complaining that the skin is too thick but do they really know how thick the skin must be for it to work?) and theres soup and a good tasting inside, you have a well made xiao long bao and this was a good example.


The meal was filled with ups and downs and the fish head soup was a bit of a let down. I had this version before which is supposedly Hong Kong influenced, this is a milky broth minus the acidity and sourness you get from the Malaysia fish head noodles. Bordering on bland again, skip this if i were you. 


The drunken chicken was obviously not drunk enough especially since Australians are known to hold their alcohol really well. Again, i had better made drunken chicken else where.

Overall, this restaurant seems to be living on hype and if it continues to be packed day and night, i wouldn't see any reason for things to improve really. So my advice is don't hope for much if you do dine here and choose wisely, the xiao long bao and the wo tip is worth ordering.

Address and contact details:

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. A case of hype more than a case of good food or either it was a case of ordering all the wrong items. Thankfully the dumplings were good as this is after all a dumpling bar.


J said...

Could be that maybe the flavours there are not suited to Malaysian tastebuds?
(We do generally seem to like our food heavily spiced/ salted/ etc)

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

j: i generally dont eat overly salty so when its bland, its really bland haha.

thule a.k.a leo said...

Australia is more health-conscious than us lah.. lol!!! Most of our food here are are heavily dosed with either salt or MSG!!!

J said...

lol. Well then. Then it's really such a terrible waste of food that could have been saved with just a dash of salt/ spices by the chef!

Michelle Chin said...

I prefer food that has a subtle taste than heavy flavors. Maybe this place might work for me. :)

Baby Sumo said...

Most Chinese food overseas are cooked to suit the gwailos tastebuds.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

babysumo: well the xiao long bao is quite spot on, and esp in melbourne where the city population is probably as huge as the gwailos, they have to be as authentic as possible.

mchin: well subtle taste and bland is 2 diff things but i suppose you can call the fish head soup, subtle.

leo: u obviously havent been to australia in recent years la, australia is one of the most obese countries la, where got healthy!
j: yeah i know!

Life for Beginners said...

"i generally dont eat overly salty so when its bland, its really bland haha."

Aiyo, then that's REALLY bland. There's a difference between "ching" (which translates as "clear", I guess?) where the natural flavours are allowed to hold fort on their own and then, there's just plain tasteless.

Still, the wo tip looks good - I'm a sucker for the crunchy/crusty bits at the bottom. :D

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

lob: haha..yes ching and bland is 2 diff story indeed..yes im a sucker too eventhough they always serve this when you are about to burst!

Sean said...

sounds like hutong in melbourne is even more popular than hutong in kl! :D

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

sean: a whole diff concept and yeah it is gaining quite a troop.

AugustDiners said...

awww sounds like uve missed melbie a lot, but cant blame you! i miss it so much too! and my baby cookie (my dog) is still there

I NEED TO GET MARRIED SOON so i can transport her back home

oops too much info

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

augustdiners: er u mean u need to get married to an aussie also? haha..yeah missing melbourne big time!