Luckily it was not my New Year’s resolution to eat healthy as this would not necessarily be a great start. Not that dumplings are necessarily unhealthy. It is just, as a rule, difficult to stop yourself from eating several dozen!
Market Lane has long been known as the home of Flower Drum, Australia’s most famous and long lived Chinese restaurant. It has also now, for several years, been the home of one of the best dumpling houses in Australia in HuTong.
The head chef here has over thirty years of experience and is considered a “dumpling master”. I wouldn’t disagree as on every single occasion I’ve been to HuTong the dumplings have been immaculate from a flavour and consistency perspective. This leads to quite high expectations which I hope are met again this evening.
The soup dumplings, known as shao-long bao, are the king of dumplings in this house and today they are exceptional as usual. The wrapper is delicate in taste, but strong enough to hold the soup and pork filling, which are both huge in flavour. It is an explosion in more ways than one.
That’s followed up with wantons with hot chilli sauce which have a stickier wrapper drizzled with the reasonably hot sauce. The prawn dumplings are quite generously packed and have a firmer texture, good for dipping in soy and chilli if you please.
With the stars of the show quickly annihilated, we enjoy the deep fried squid in salt and pepper (and chilli) which are tasty, but some are a little chewy. The crispy fragrant duck on the other hand is all beautifully cooked with glorious crispy skin for a flavour punch giving away to juicy duck meat.
The question of dessert versus some more dumplings was answered swiftly by the majority of the table and to finish we tried the pan fried dumplings which come in an interesting presentation. It is difficult to top the shao-long bao, and indeed, while the pan fried dumplings are good, they are not the champions.
HuTong’s dumplings have again lived up to my high expectation, especially when washed down with a couple of Tsingtao beers on this beautiful New Year’s Day. I expect it won’t be long until the next visit to enjoy the fruits of the dumpling master’s great and enduring work.