Hutong – CBD

14-16 Market Ln
Melbourne, 3000
03 9650 8128

Birthdays are always such a good excuse to indulge / splurge on food. Don’t you agree? It was Mr JL’s birthday, and we were invited to dine with him at HuTong. It was just after the sun had fallen on a Saturday evening, and not surprisingly this three level dumpling bar was at capacity.

The interior resonates similarities with its Prahran counterpart, with a chic oriental décor, albeit not as sleek. A totally neurotic side note: the floor was clean – something you will never see at the likes of Camy’s!

Given the number of blog reviews scattered across the web, and given I’ve previously reviewed many of the same dishes at HuTong in Prahran, this post will have many direct references and comparisons with the former.

Pan fried pork dumplings – similarly “well prepared dumpling, juicy & well seasoned” on the palate with similar issues with slight “under-brown[ing]” of the base-skin. It was a little haphazardly presented on the plate though =P.

Chilli wontons – “tasty and slippery morsels of meat”. Though generally Northern Chinese cuisine does tend to be heavier on flavours whether it be salt, spice or oil, I still found it a toned down version.

XLB (Xiao Long Bao’s) – standing “tall in the centre and droop[ing] around the sides”, these piping hot morsels are full of a tasty concentrated broth, exploding with the meaty umami of pork. Comparatively these were a little blander and less gelatiny (cf Prahran). I still prefer the meticulously paper thin version of Ding Tai Fung though.

Claypot fish-head soup – I wonder if my benchmark for all food has risen, given I was not nearly as impressed with this fish head soup. Though still emanating a good level of homely warmth from the bone-white-broth, I found it lacked a certain sea-freshness and depth of flavour. I was seriously ladling around the base for non-existent bamboo shoots. But, at least I had plenty of gelatinous fish head to gnaw on, given it wasn’t highly popular around the table =P.

Scallop & eggplant in claypot in Szechuan chilli sauce – “Plump scallops and juicy eggplant”, with a glossy, slightly sweet sauce base. Mmm mm, tasty! Perfect with a bowl of rice or two!

Sliced pork belly – incredibly tender slices of pork covered in a sauce that is both sweet and savoury. After reading Penny’s review, seems like we’ve made similar judgements on this dish – the pork was lacking in a little intensity, though the bok choy did have a “nice crunch”.

Braised beef brisket – beef slices were tender though a tad lean. The broth had that typical Northern Chinese beef broth aroma to it, with a hint of curry to it.

Dry chicken in Hot Chilli – crispy balls of deep-fried-chicken-goodness with a good salty kick. Not so much on the numbing / spice-heat side though – more spice please! This was quite the hit around the table.

Rating: Yummy – I am somewhat ambivalent over the city HuTong at the moment. Though they make fantastic XLB’s, other items are a little hit and miss. I would’ve been so easily won over (and given a +1), if they had also given me that same fish head soup I had at Prahran. Service was efficient, décor is lovely, and still quite value for money.

You may also like: HuTong (Prahran), David’s, Red Bean Kitchen, Spice Temple, Shanghai Noodle house.

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

6 Responses to “Hutong – CBD”
  1. I’m pretty ambivalent about Hutong too. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t inspire me to rush back!

  2. Birthdays are an excuse to splurge. 🙂

  3. msihua says:

    Having just dined there today, I have to admit.. the XLB’s weren’t as good as I remembered… a bit sad that the quality of the skin has dropped… it used to be on par with Din Tai Fung! Sigh…

  4. Thanh says:

    Isn’t it weird how divided opinions are on Hutong. Whatever we think, people are still going there in droves, so they’re doing something right.

  5. leaf, msihua, thanh – the problem with eating out so much, you find your benchmark rises so high, its quite hard to impress your palate =P. what a downside ey… LOL

    michelle – i totally agree. actually any reason to splurge is a good excuse!

  6. man… i really need to go there… in fact I need to get out of the house more often 😛

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  • Food RATING scale

    Unpleasant: damn upset my desire to eat

    Average: palatable but many shortcomings

    Yummy: a pleasant experience

    Yummy +1: mouth-watering like rain

    Yummy +2: exquisite flavours that hit all the right notes

    Divine: sheer culinary perfection!

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