Lovers of good Chinese cuisine would know that a trip to any respectable venue specialising on the Eastern fare is as much about the abrupt service as it is about the delicious food. In fact, anyone who’s ever dined in two of Melbourne Chinatown’s much-lauded establishments, Camy Shanghai Dumpling in Tattersalls Lane and Supper Inn in Celestial Avenue, would be familiar with their trademark infamous customer treatment. And yet, both do roaring trade each night. And why? Because the food is worth the less-than-polite service.
It’s an absolute saving grace then that the same can be said with one of Chinatown’s latest addition that’s creating quite the buzz amongst those in the know. In fact, HuTong Dumpling Bar is good–nay, amazing! And just as well. Since the service at this three-level eatery is simply worse than an episode of Fawlty Towers. In fact, it’s absolutely shambolic.
Rudeness from wait staff can be overlooked if the service was at least fast and efficient (Hello Camy!) but sadly, at HuTong, this isn’t the case. Slow, plodding as well as being terribly clumsy, a recent visit had us waiting for our food for well over an hour. And when the much-anticipated dishes finally arrived, all were then promptly dropped to the floor by the clearly frazzled waiter before he even got anywhere near the table. It was comically tragic!
But all this was soon forgotten at the very first taste of HuTong’s version of xiao long bao (XLB), their most famous and divine creation. Soft, delicious morsel filled with meat and soup, they were simply orgasmic! Eaten with some art, lest the diner ends up with a shirt full of dumpling-encased soup, HuTong’s XLBs are best nipped at the tip to sup the excess liquid before popping the whole parcel for a melt-in-the-mouth goodness. Be warned, these dumplings come out steaming!
Other dishes had that night, and which all come highly recommended, are the grilled eggplant with chili (top) and the sultan dumplings with beef brisket (bottom). It’s food like these that you would come back time and again for, Fawlty Towers-inspired service or not.
Now, anyone know the Chinese name for Manuel?
HuTong Dumpling Bar is located on 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne Chinatown. Ph (03) 9650 8128. Bookings recommended.