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Published October 18th 2015
Tina Turner Got It Right- This Is Simply The Best
This is the fourth Hutong restaurant I have been invited to try (lucky me) and each time I think it just can't get any better. I was hoping to be proved wrong again. All of my other visits to Hutong restaurants have exceeded my expectations, so the stakes were high. Renowned for their impeccable food and service, we were greeted at the door and made feel warmly welcome, not once, but twice by two waiters.
Fresh fried scallops with dry garlic
Tucked in next to the prestigious Cullen hotel, you'll easily locate the dumpling bar when you see the green awnings on Commercial Road. Big, bold heavy gold doors mark the entrance signifying its importance. The number of clientele on a Tuesday night would make many restaurants envious.
My idea of a casual dumpling bar was obviously incorrect. This was more like what you would expect from the Hutong group. The decor and styling is modern, stylish and appealing. As is common amongst their restaurants, there are lots of different and intimate dining spaces. We were fortunate enough to dine in the private space. We were barely seated when the drinks were offered. All staff was professional, attentive, and friendly. They quickly and discreetly served the food and refilled the water and wine several times without request.
This November in Melbourne the HuTong Group are involved in 'World Dinners' where flavours of the globe are on show, with cuisine-themed dinners to take guests on a culinary trip to all corners of the world.
The Age Good Food Month presented by Citi is a month-long celebration of ultimate dining experiences.
The special menu offered by the Hutong Dumpling Bar includes: Crab meat soup, Hutong Xiao long Bao, Signature Peking duck with pancake, Fresh fried scallops with dry garlic, Pan fried cod fish with black Pepper sauce, Pan fried lamb cutlets and Two color jelly. A vegetarian alternative to the set menu is available.
The freshest tastiest stir fried vegetables
At only $68 per person this must be the best value meal available during food month.
The first course for me was the hot and sour soup. It is one of my favorites from the Crown's Man Tong Kitchen. This measured up well to their very tasty soup. Chock-full of the fresh finely grated vegetables and soft tofu, I could make a meal out of this soup. The others who had the crabmeat soup commented that it was not too fishy and the great start to the night.
Hot and sour soup
Obviously everyone was hanging out for the famous dumplings and again, these didn't disappoint. Each serve was much appreciated by the diners that night.
I wish I could make the Sanchoi boa like they do. There are obviously some secrets to making the delicious fine fillings. I did pick up one tip though which was to cut the outer section of lettuce leaf so that its crispy enough to support the filling. The chefs had meticulously cut theirs into a shell shape.
It's not the signature duck for nothing
The arrival of the Signature Peking duck caused some lip licking and discussion. Many people said that it was going to be their favorite dish of the night. According to the eaters, the duck was very tender, the pancake did not detract from the taste and the were vegetables crisp. It looked delicious.
It might sounds strange but the simple bok choy and the stir-fry vegetables were probably my favorite dishes. Is it possible to have five favorites? The Hutong guys really know how to prepare vegetables in light oil. They let the quality of the produce speak for itself.
Pan fried lamb cutlets
Next came the fresh fried scallops with dry garlic which were a photographer's delight. They were piled high on the platter and described as crispy on the outside but melt in your mouth soft on the inside. They were a favorite until the lamb arrived.
Pan fried cod fish with black Pepper sauce even satisfies the Poms
When the crispy deep-fried cod was eaten I could hear the crunching around the table. This was served with a thick black pepper sauce. An English gentleman had announced that he was over cod but this one took him by surprise (a very pleasant one).
By now most people were pretty full however they somehow managed to squeeze in the scrumptious pan-fried lamb cutlets, which was a favorite dish by some diners.
I must admit when I saw that dessert was going to be two-color jelly I was trying to guess the colors. I had no idea jelly could look and taste so good. To my surprise the jelly ended up being thinly layered coffee and tea jelly. It must have been arduous to make but it was an impressive way to end the meal replacing the need for tea or coffee.
Would you believe tea and coffee jelly?
If you have never tried Hutong food then this is your chance to get a great sample. If you have, you will know that you can never get enough. Enjoy this exclusive world dinner for good food month at the hutong dumpling bar.
Other Hutong Restaurants to try
Hu Tong City - 14-16 Market Ln., Melbourne
Man Tong Kitchen - Level 1 West End, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank
East - 25 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Lost Heaven - Level 2, 206 Bourke Street, Melbourne
China Red- 206 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Spicy Fish - 209 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Da Hu Peking Duck- 171 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Ten Miles - Crown Casino food court, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank