Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hutong Dumpling Bar, Melbourne CBD by Obelix

We here at Eat and Be Merry have extensively covered Hutong Dumpling Bar over the years.  See Bureaucrat's review hereBig Fil's here and Snooze's here.  They loved it.  It's the Melbourne Institute for dumplings, right?  So I feel like a proper Negative Nancy when I admit I did not like it.

Where to start?  The dumplings weren't that stellar.  I have had better at suburban yum cha restaurants.  I'm not sure whether I set my bar too high but Hutong is touted as the dumpling place.  The prices are higher than typical yum cha dumplings so I was expecting a place that specialised and excelled in the art of dumpling making and I was prepared to pay the up market prices.

The spinach dumplings in particular were bland and the dough wrapping the filling was chewy and dense.  I was expecting silken slippery wrappers, a sign of craftsmanship.  My pick of the bunch were their spicy dumplings which were silken and flavourful and the pan friend dumplings due to their crispy bottoms.

Spicy dumplings - worth raving about.  The sauce was piquant without being overly spicy.

Vegetarian noodles.  Lots of soy sauce, can't taste much else which is a shame as it had delicate mushrooms throughout completely over powered.

Shao Long Baos.  I normally love these but the Hutong ones were quite gross if you didn't eat them immediately.  When it was slightly less than piping hot, the interior congealed into a fatty glob.  Very off putting.  A real shame because these are supposed to the moreish morsels of soupy goodness delicately wrapped up.

Fried rice.  Not much to say about this.  It was standard issue stuff.

The aforementioned dense as rocks spinach dumplings.  Don't bother ordering.  A shame as there were not many vegetarian options for vegetarian folks.

Pork dumplings.  Bit average.  I have definitely had better in less touted establishments.

Pot stickers / pan fried dumplings.  These were delicious.  The bottoms were nice and crispy.

Shark fin dumplings.  Ok.  Standard yum cha level.

Crispy skin chicken.  This was also ok.  Not much different from any suburban Chinese restaurant.

We were ravenous when the eight of us ordered so we did not note the prices of things.  But to give you context, the above cost $30 split between the eight of us.

Verdict: we wouldn't return.

Having heard raving reviews about Hutong Dumpling Bar for many years, I am not sure whether this made me set the bar too high for this place. I didn't really enjoy the food (apart from two of the many dishes) and I found the customer service surly but I guess that can be commonplace in some Chinese restaurants.  So I guess all in all, I didn't enjoy my dining experience and I wouldn't be returning.

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

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