Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hutong Dumpling Bar - (Melbourne)

  There are a few things that are very good in Melbourne indeed,  but unfortunately there are equally a few things which never fails to disappoint.   Try finding great Japanese food, proper Japanese Ramen,  Cantonese Char Siu or  Won Ton noodles or a great Xiao Loong Bao over here -  they’re rare,  but usually non existent.   Hutong Dumpling Bar on paper has the potential to over-turn this negative trend and is the latest darling supported by so many people who just love dumplings!   Here I was seriously excited bringing along the clan and secretly hoping that the tide has finally turned for the goodness of Aust.   But the food here was to put it politely,  frankly disgusting (yes, more severe than using the word disappointing, and I’ve thought about using a less harsher word already!).    For a shop which is serving mostly Shanghainese/Pekinese dumplings and cuisine with some weird Cantonese and Sichuan dishes thrown into the mix,   I have got to say that as much as I arrived here with an open mind  -  this is easily the most disgusting Chinese food I’ve ever devoured in my life.   Even counting in the worst of the worst of the same style of food I’ve tried in Taipei, Shanghai and Hong Kong, Beijing, etc,  this still managed to slot itself in right at the bottom of the chart.   If someone comes to HK and can’t find a Dumpling or Xiao Loong Bao which is at least multiple times better than the one here,  I’ll pay for your meal…  let me know : S


P1190896-1Opposite the Famous Flower Drums -
Well Flower Drums is more about fine dining,
but at least they do it pretty right..


Shredded Ginger -
The ginger easily looked just so wrong. 
Way too powdery dry,  the skin wasn’t even peeled,  and its not even finely julienned properly into thin strips.  It was also obvious that these were ginger past its use-by date.   If one finds this ginger quality in Shanghai or Hong Kong,  someone is going to be swearing at the Manager.  Not a good sign to see before the meal…



Boiled Pork Dumplings (鮮肉水餃) -  AUD $12.80
Congratulations Hutong, these are the no.1 worst pork dumplings I’ve ever eaten in my life.   The Runner Up spot goes to Camy Shanghai dumplings in Box Hill, and this is even worst!
Look at that thick floury skin on the right?  Although traditional Beijing style dumplings can have a thickish skin overall,  they will never have such a lop sided unevenness like here, nor be so floury in texture.  The last time I remember I had to spit out a dumpling skin was -  never,  except during my trip here.    The pork meat didn’t have enough veggies either and was a bit dense than fluffy,  and it was full of MSG flavouring.   Utterly disgraceful dumplings and I will make a bold claim, that  this is probably the worst Pekinese style dumplings in the world.   It’s fairly embarrassing and left unfinished.  ~   0/10

Xiao Loong Bao  (小籠包) -  AUD 11.80
I am a little surprised that the resulting photo made these look alright in the end,  but in real life the skin was doughy and the pleats were irregularly formed,  which means parts of the top became under steamed and undercooked hard – the only saving grace is that the skin wasn’t overly thick, but even the dough tasted weird.    Upon my 1st bite,  I ended up spitting out the meat and the soup because it was simply disgustingly bad.    The so-called infused soup was murky and filled with too much collagen/gelatin from the re-melted pork skins and chicken feet stock, which is what gives it the soupy internal upon steaming, and it definitely had loads of MSG in it.   Instead of enjoying some clear sweet pork soup,  this was a lardy mess which stuck your lips together when it cooled.   I simply can’t believe how wrong and oily this tasted,  I spitted out a 2nd XLB on my last attempt.  No one in the family even dared to touch the last piece.    This was a horrible XLB experience compared to any shops in Taipei, Shanghai or Hong Kong.  In fact Sung’s Kitchen or Box Hill’s Dumpling King in Melbourne makes a relatively better version,  and of course Din Tai Fung in Sydney and even Yauatcha in LondonBut none of these will be upto Taiwan or Hong Kong standards by a long margin  ~   1/10


Stir Fried Pea Shoots (清炒豆苗) – AUD $16.80
You’ve thought they could at least do a stir fried pea shoots dish properly,  but out come pea shoots which weren’t even shoots anymore,  but came with big hollow centres and too old to be eaten as a dish of young pea shoots.   This was chewier and older than a Water Spinach and I wouldn’t feed it to a turtle,  if I had one.  Coz Turtles love eating water spinach, but this was way older    ~    3/10


Stir-Fried Tea Tree Mushroom with Shredded Pork (茶樹菇肉絲) –  AUD $19.80
I was not only close to,  but was bloody seething and swearing by this stage.   This sounded like a promising ‘detox’ dish,  but the pork was tasteless, has loads of MSG,  lacked wok-chi frying,  and the tea tree mushrooms were completely bland.   Had absolutely no idea how they could stuff this one so badly.  It was like eating exactly nothing,  even cardboard might have more taste.  ~  4/10


White Rice – AUD $2.60
You’d have thought a restaurant can’t stuff up a white rice,  but think again.  Part of the rice was clumped together and too wet,  whereas other parts were dry and undercooked,  and the whole thing was tepid in serving temperature at most.  Even the portion was on the small side.       ~   2/10


Visiting this Shop -
Reminds me that I should treasure what I thought previously were mediocre shops,  but which in hindsight trumps here like it’s utter trash to be experienced on the planet but no one seems to care about.    This shop reminds me of going to Momotaro Rahmen in Melbourne, which must be the worst ramen/rahmen I’ve ever tried in my life over many years of giving them hope to improve, but somehow people buy the concept so much.   Ajisen Ramen is said to be one of the best ramens in Melbourne (together with Kenzan GPO and Menya).    Seriously,  go figure!  Sydney has better ramen,  and HK has better still,  and Japan is in a league of its own by a thousand miles.    Ajisen Ramen, even by HK standards is awful let alone its original shops in Kumamoto in Japan which can’t compare to most Hakata/Fukuoka and Tokyo shops.  And Momotaro Rahmen in Melbourne is the worst of all of these, but go check out their highish online rating anyway.  And Hutong Dumpling Bar on the same measurement is just equally an embarrassment.  Confused smile  Utterly disgusting experience,  I wished I didn’t come try it out.  Just the thought of visiting here makes me puke and appreciate what I can get on a regular basis in HK and China.


Price: AUD $25 per person
Food: ♕

Opening Hours -
Daily  -           11.30am  - 3pm
Sun – Thu  -   5.30pm-10.30pm
Fri-Sat       -   5.30pm-11.30pm

Address:  14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne
Phone:  (03) 9650 8128


  1. Ugh, that's why I don't get why everyone thinks that this is a superb dumpling bar!

    Hey, can you recommend a good Japanese restaurant in HK? I don't really mind the budget. Just want something really special. :)

  2. Dear Michelle,

    Sorry about the late reply as my net connection is so patchy using the mobile 3 network :S

    Let me think of some options and let you know on Facebook soon - since I get disconnected all the time on this platform! : )



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