Thursday, 20 September 2012

HuTong Dumpling Bar - Hot Hot Heat!

What started off as a sane lunch at HuTong Dumpling Bar on Market Lane evolved into a hedonistic tour de force around Fitzroy where I had the pleasure of not only returning to Naked for Satan but trying Mana Bar and Black Pearl for the first time. It was truly a great day that all started over some innocuous dumplings on the border of Chinatown and ended late in the evening.

As I approached HuTong Dumpling Bar, which is across the lane from Flower Drum, I noticed a group of Caucasians milling around outside and after quizzing them, they were waiting for a table. At first I was hesitant as I thought that if the restaurant was filled with Caucasians and not Chinese, that this could be an overpriced trap. I always assume that if a Chinese establishment is actually frequented by the Chinese, it must be good. I entered and nearly all of the tables on the ground floor were taken by Chinese including a long table in the centre of the restaurant where a large group of Chinese were obviously happy, drinking Corona beer and seemingly pleased with the multiple offerings that were being delivered to their table.

My wait for a table for two wasn't long and and we were shown to our table within ten minutes near the kitchen and the aforementioned long table of happy Chinese patrons. The kitchen is enclosed in glass so I was able to keep an eye on the dumpling production line by observing the activity in the fish bowl. I did notice a microwave in the kitchen and I kept one eye on it throughout my culinary journey and I was happy that I never saw it be used. I did find some amusement in watching the assembly line of humans making dumplings by hand, the resulting steaming process and the hive of activity in general.

The server came promptly to take our order. I thought it was interesting that she did not write down that we wanted xiao long bao, wantons with hot chilli sauce, dry chicken in hot chilli, rice, a bottle of Asahi and a vodka bitters. I was impressed when the order was filled and the items that we ordered were delivered, one at a time.

The first dish that came out was the wantons with hot chilli sauce. Simply brilliant is all I can say. It was actually nice to taste some spice and this recipe was about as authentic as I have found. It was easily my favourite dish. Once these wantons were devoured, the xiao long bao was delivered. After adding some chilli which is conveniently available at your table, these dumplings were also very good. I could eat them all day, and substitute them for Doritos at home quite easily. The dry chicken in hot chilli was the last dish to come out. At $20, I thought it was great value for money and resembled a dish that I enjoyed at The Spice Temple recently. The chicken was a bit dry, however it was still very good and I would order it again. Unlike my trips to The Spice Temple, the food left a chilli flavour lingering in my mouth that the Asahi was not able to extinguish, but it was exactly what I expected and what I wanted.

Two people were able to eat and drink for $58, which I thought was good value for money. Although there are other places in China Town with cheaper prices, the quality and service at HuTong makes it a place worth trying again and returning to. I know I am looking forward to my next visit.

HuTong Dumpling Bar, Market Lane, Melbourne
HuTong Dumpling Bar
Link to review
14-16 Market Lane  Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9650 8128
My Rating: 13.5/20
Service: 3/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Comment: Great wantons with hot chilli sauce

Twitter: @epicurean3006
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At the time of this blog post, 82% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like Hutong Dumpling Bar.

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon