The fairest dumplings of them all?

HuTong Dumpling Bar

14 – 16 Market Lane, CBD

High end designer loft-esque with asian twist

She says:
HuTong gets a lot of praise and is often credited with serving the best dumplings in Melbourne. Despite the hype and my (completely unhealthy and obsessive) love of dumplings I’ve only been to HuTong once before, not long after it opened back in 2009. I wasn’t super impressed so I haven’t been back.

For the last few weeks Gerard and I have been having dinner together in the city on Monday night in the 45-ish minutes between him finishing work and leaving for the airport to go to Sydney. Having under an hour for dinner doesn’t give you a lot of options so we’ve ended up camping out on the same edge of a 6 person table at North East China Family about 3 weeks in a row. It was time to branch out. We thought we’d stick to dumplings (wouldn’t want to go too crazy) so I suggested HuTong where Gerard had never been and which most other people seem to be big fans of. I thought maybe my impression last time had been tainted by me dropping my phone into a big bowl of chilli oil. Magically the phone still worked but was dripping the oil on things for literally months, every time I smelt chilli I got just a little more bitter.

The restaurant itself is really nice, especially for a cheap asian restaurant. The fit out of the mammoth 3-level dining area is clean, pretty and gives off (upstairs at least) a bit of a high-end-designer-loft-with-an-asian-twist feel. Unlike the Canadian ‘high end designer loft’ featured in a show we watched a while ago called Junk Raiders where everything in the loft was freecycled, I am pretty sure none of the furniture in HuTong was fished out of a river or found in a dumpster.

The food… not so great. I shouldn’t say that, it’s not bad. The food is good, it’s just not great and not worth the premium you pay over other dumpling restaurants. Definitely overrated. Also they charge $3 a head for tea which is squarely against my religion.


He says:
I like my routine and as a result Monday night, for the last couple of weeks, has been dumpling night. There is nothing like eating a dirt cheap tiny little ball of unidentifiable food to help you forget about the shock of losing the weekend for another 4 days. As I like to say, if you’re eating dumplings, it must be Monday. Actually, I’ve never said that… besides now.

Margaret insisted that we try somewhere which wasn’t North East China Family, so we went to HuTong. We waited about 5 minutes for a table after which we were whisked upstairs to a table situated precariously close to another couple. I’m hoping they don’t have a food blog, because they were looking rather annoyed by having to repeatedly ask the staff for their fried chicken dish over the course of at least half an hour. At one point the guy even got up and went over and asked about it. The staff briskly took our order, which also coincidentally was the exact moment where the service plummeted down to earth like a wayward chopstick. With a plane to catch, you’re after quick meal, which is unfortunately not the specialty of this place.

I’m not going to repeat Marg’s tongue lashing above, but I was really disappointed with the cold boiled dumplings. It almost felt as if they’d waited disappointingly in the kitchen as long as we had waited for them to be brought to the table (40 minutes for the record). The others were all very quite good, if a bit liquidy, with the pan fried dumplings being the standout; there was something eerily elegant about the almost floral arrangement of the dumplings.

HuTong is a good dumpling restauruant, even if it’s not consitently solid. It’s certainly not a date venue, but’s definitely suitable for a large group.

We ate:
We started with a small serve of the boiled pork dumplings (6 for $6.80). They were fine, but they were delivered almost completely cold which was a shame.

Boiled pork dumplings

We followed up with a serve of the duck meat dumplings (4 for $8.80). These were pretty good.


We also shared a plate of the pan fried dumplings (8 for $12.80). I like the way that the dumplings are fried in a pan together and served in a full piece, it’s cute. What isn’t cute is the massive amount of liquid that was squirting out of these suckers.

Pan fried dumplings

We finished up with the famous shao long bao (8 for $11.80). The skins weren’t too thick, the soup was tasty. But to be honest, they didn’t blow me away. Personally I much, much prefer the filling in the equivalent parcels of deliciousness at Gourmet Dumpling Restaurant.


The short and sweet:
The dumplings are good, but not as good as some other places. The prices aren’t outrageous, but are more expensive than other places. The service is slow. I’m sure you could do worse than dumplings at HuTong, but you could absolutely do better. When it comes to dumplings, I don’t believe in settling.

Price range:
Around $25 a head for dumplings only, more if you branch out into the other sections of the menu (or want tea).

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

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