MELBOURNE, Australia
One night when it was raining, I craved something comforting and warm. And for me that’s usually soup noodles or dumplings.

So I made my way to Hutong Dumpling Bar, which is nestled in a little alley (technically Market Lane) in the Chinatown district of Melbourne. I got there soon after it opened its doors at 5:30 p.m., which turned out to be a smart move because a constant flow of people came after me, most of them brandishing reservations and heading up to the second-floor dining room.

I ate downstairs in the small front dining area, where I got a view of the dumpling makers in the kitchen busy wrapping the various dumplings offered on the menu.

Decent Dumplings
Of course, I had to order the xiao lung bao (spelled Shao-long Bao on their menu), which is the Shanghai soup dumplings. The order of eight pieces (AUS$11.80 or $11.05) was quite filling, and while the skin was nice and thin and the soup inside was decent, I thought the pork filling was a bit off. Maybe because there was too much filling-to-soup ratio?

I also heard they had Peking duck dumplings, but all I saw on the menu were simply duck meat dumplings (4 pieces for AUS$8.80 or $8.25). I’d never had dumplings like these, which were more like Hong Kong-style dim sum with a thin, translucent shell wrapped around the filling of minced duck meat and vegetables.

The dinner menu includes several large dishes to share, but since I was dining alone, I just went with another comfort dish, the Szechuan Bean Curd with Minced Pork (AUS$15.80 or $14.80), or mapo tofu. The minced pork and diced tofu were fresh and nicely cooked, but it lacked punch and the cornstarch giving the dish its shine was almost too much (luckily it was just almost, and didn’t go over the line).

I barely finished the tofu because I was so full from the dumplings. The xiao lung baos are decent though not like Din Tai Fung (which actually has a new location in Sydney), but it hit the spot for a wet night.

The Last Bite
Hutong Dumpling Bar has a nice environment and friendly staff, but it does seem to do more of a non-Asian clientele. Still, the food is good (although not great) but there are probably comparable (and cheaper) dumplings elsewhere.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
2.5snaps

 

 

Hutong Dumpling Bar, 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne, Australia. PH: +61(03)9650-8128. Open for lunch, Monday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner daily from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. (till 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.hutong.com.au

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Xiao lung bao, or soup dumplings, were perfectly formed

Xiao lung bao, or soup dumplings, were perfectly formed

Duck meat dumplings were translucent thin skin wrappers with minced duck meat filling

Duck meat dumplings were translucent thin skin wrappers with minced duck meat filling

Busy wrapping up dumplings

Busy wrapping up dumplings

Szechuan bean cured with minced pork, aka mapo tofu

Szechuan bean cured with minced pork, aka mapo tofu

 

4 Responses to A Review of Hutong Dumpling Bar in Melbourne

  1. foodhoe says:

    that does sound comforting, the duck dumplings sound yummy although the taste experience doesn’t sound much like peking duck, they look lovely and delicious! I follow a lot of Aussie instagrammers, and the food scene over there looks adventurous and rich!

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    The duck dumplings sound very intriguing. Glad you got your dumpling fix. Sometimes you really do need a familiar taste of home when traveling.

  3. Row says:

    I’m intrigued by the wrappers of the duck dumplings. Were they gummy, or pleasantly chewy? Yes, I’m a wrapper weirdo. 😛

    • Ben Ben says:

      Definitely not gummy. The wrapper is very similar to what they use to make har gow in dim sum places, but these were nice… thin and slightly chewy but not awfully so. I generally don’t like the texture of har gow (it’s like raw flour for me) but this was cooked well enough that it didn’t bother me.