February 22, 2010

Hu Tong Dumpling Bar

4-16 Market Lane,
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9650 8128
(Also at: 162 Commercial Road, Prahan, Melbourne VIC 3181)
Food: Chinese, Sichuan, Dumplings
Website: www.hutong.com.au
Date visited: 11th January 2010

Early this month called for a tantalizing of the taste buds at HuTong Dumpling Bar, notorious for its delectable Shao Long Bao. The Chinese eatery, with its dark wooden furnishings and abrupt service, serves a slew of Sichuan and Shanghai-style dishes, gleaming with vibrancy, flavour, and more often than not, spicy chilli and oil.

The experience begins from the moment you enter on the ground floor, where a chef can be viewed, making the Shao Long Dumplings. He wraps a pork filling with jellied meat stock (formed from refrigerating a rich broth) inside a dumpling skin, then with deft movements, pleats the skin into perfect little folds. Heat from steaming the dumplings in a bamboo basket melts the gelatin inside into a soup that characterises the Shao Long Bao.

 Shao Long Bao

So popular is the Shao Long Bao that every table is adorned with a placard, explaining the 'correct' way of devouring the morsel, so as to not scold your tongue from the hot soup by plonking the whole dumpling into your mouth at once:

1. Gently pick up a Shao Long Bao with chopsticks, making sure that you don't break the skin.
2. Dip the Shao Long Bao into the provided shredded ginger and black vinegar sauce.
3. Lift it up and place it on your spoon.
4. Nibble the side of the Shao Long Bao and suck out the soup, savouring the meaty, juicy and sweet flavours of the broth inside.
5. Add some ginger and vinegar to the Shao Long Bao and eat the rest.

 Scallops with Eggplant in Claypot in Szechuan Chilli Sauce - This dish is traditionally served silky and shiny with lots of oil. We were so thirsty after each mouthful

Deep-fried Soft Shell Prawn in Salt and Pepper - the prawn shells were extremely tasty and surprisingly easy to chew through

Sichuan Pickled Vegetables - once again, quite spicy, but was great for cutting through the richness of the other dishes

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