Saturday, January 29, 2011

Eat. @ Hu Tong Dumpling Bar

14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne - (03) 9650 8128

A Hu Tong is the laneway (or neighborhood)  that is formed by a row (or rows) of very geometrically laid out courtyard residences commonly found in Beijing.  Likewise Hu Tong Dumpling Bar is found in a little laneway off Chinatown.  Sitting opposite Flower Drum, Hu Tong has obviously become a firm favourite of locals and visitors alike, judging by the busy opening and closing of its front door!

After spending a pleasant afternoon in the city, we decided last minute to eat out and not bother cooking, and rang Hu Tong when we were just around the corner.  I explained how many of us there were and that we had a pram, and was pleasantly surprised to be given a table by the manager, with the condition that we finished our meal by 8pm (it was 6pm).  No problems I said, and off we went.  Unfortunately the manager had missed the bit about my pram and our table was on the 3rd floor, with 2 flights of steep stairs.  It was a bit of a nusiance but we managed to make it up to our table, and the waiters were polite and offered us help.  Fortunately all the effort was worthwhile as our meal had some of the best Shanghai Cuisine we had ever experienced!

Their Shao Long Bao (or XLB as they're popularly known!) are famous for a good reason.  The outside skins were perfectly steamed, safely delivering the delicious soup inside the dumpling, yet were not too thick. 


The Pan Fried Dumplings however were not so great.  The skins were too thick which made the whole thing rather ordinary - you can get this done just as badly at any yum cha restaurant.

Pan Fried Dumplings - you can SEE how thick the skin is!

The Noodles with Shredded Pork and Pickled Vegetables in Soup turned out to be very pleasant and "easy going" - very flavoursome, with lovely noodles, in a very smooth and delicious soup. 

The Shanghai Fried Noodles were some of the best I've had.  Good amount of vegies (made me feel better about how "shiny" the noodles were) and not too salty.   

Shanghai Fried Noodles, shining with "goodness!"

The waitresses were some of the friendliest and most helpful we've met.  Extra bowls and cutlery were brought to us with a smile.  Again as we left the waiter offered us help with the pram.  The service was extremely efficient and we were done in about an hour.  Although most of the tables around us were filled with hip young things having a meal before partying the night away, there were a few families with older kids.  The price of the food was also quite reasonable, notably cheaper than most of our lunches at cafes and other kid friendly restaurants!

Thank you Hu Tong for a wonderful dinner, and ensuring that I will never want to eat Shanghai Cuisine anywhere else in Melbourne again!!  

Edit - Okay, Hubby reminded me that I actually like Bamboo House better.  Sigh.... has been so long since I've been there, now I want to go again soon...!!!!
Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends :  The Shao Long Bao (not surprisingly) 
Give it a Miss : The Pan Fried Dumplings, also if you want to bring a pram, ring ahead and see if you can sit on the ground floor, although there is pretty limited sitting there and the front door will be opening and closing the whole time you're there.  We would not want to bring a pram to the 3rd floor ever again!

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Regretably we did not stay for long enough to "experience" their toilet facilities or look for a change table.

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