returning to XO

It had been just over a year since I had last been to XO in Narrabundah and I was about eleven months overdue for a revisit. With a promise of fabulous company and new dishes on the menu, I booked for the next free day everyone was available.

Starters~

Shantung bao twice cooked pork belly with cucumber, pickled daicon and ginger ($8.00 each). It might seem steep to pay 8 bucks for a bao but it is worth every cent. The pork belly is a thick cut but very tender; the meatiness is balanced by the vegetables and the bao is super soft.

The baos are teeny tiny but mighty tasty.XO FC wings marinated in butter milk with kewpie mayo ($10.00). I love chicken wings and if you fry it, I will come! These were really crunchy while remaining succulent and I love mixing the mayo with their modified sriracha sauce.Steamed dumplings minced prawn and pork with spicy soy vinaigrette ($16.00). These were so delicious, we ordered another serve just before we started on desserts. A delicate steamed parcel in a beautiful spicy soy which made it very hard to share with other people.Small plates~

Vanella stracciatella dressed with tomato nam jim, granny smith apple, crushed peanuts and crispy shrimp ($18.00). This my friends….Was the dish of the night for me and that is a massive call since I also ordered Asian bolognese. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to anything else on the menu once I confirmed that my old favourites were still there. TimmyC suggested we get this dish and I casually dismissed it aside allowing him this as his ‘one’ while I chose 5 other plates. It is difficult to describe this dish, it was a mix of stretchy cheese, different flavours and crunchy textures. You MUST order this!!! Asian bolognese stir fried udon in XO chicken ragout with a 60° egg ($18.00). This dish was the sole reason I came back to XO, I’ve been having dreams about this ever since I had it the first time. I think it is genius to use udon!Shallow fried tofu shallow fried tofu seasoned soy and candied ginger ($16.00). I can see how this was supposed to be a simple tasty dish with a ridiculously soft tofu but I found it underwhelming in comparison to the other dishes.Hiramasa Kingfish miso cured with pineapple relish, wasabi nori, spelt and freeze-dried raspberry. Kent was nice enough to treat us to one of their new dishes on the menu, this would have been $18.00. It was interesting to have the Kingfish served in cubes, the curing processing apparently makes the flesh ‘tighter’ and it gave the dish a very meaty feel. This is a dish where you have to eat all elements together; the wasabi nori had a kick but the pineapple made it very sweet and it seemed like we were eating a sushi without rice.Larger~

Prawn Kapitan spicy Nyonya style curry with wok fried king prawns ($34.00). The prawns were really fragrant and tasty but I was hoping for more of a sauce to mix into my rice.Crispy lamb ribs tossed in a sticky plum sauce ($28.00). A popular favourite amongst the table, it is a little messy to eat. Ditch the chopsticks and just use your hands.Sides~

Cauliflower nuggets fried with mixed spices and mint yoghurt ($12.00). I was hit with a strong taste of cumin which probably would have been offset by the yoghurt but the bowl got taken away before I could go back and smear some on.Desserts~

Chrysanthemum tea soft serve ($5.00). I knew when I made the restaurant booking that I wanted this for my dessert, I was just hoping that they still had it. Anyone that has had a chrysanthemum tea popper growing up, this is exactly that flavour in soft serve form. I encourage all those who have not tried chrysanthemum tea to order this, although I  don’t know if they still  have it on the menu because they have just released a watermelon szechuan and sumac soft serve yesterday.Black rice pudding coconut ice-cream, golden honeycomb  and lime meringue ($14.00). I love this dessert but I  was surprised to see that the desserts had not changed for a year. Chef AK explained for these popular desserts to be replaced, it would have to be just as good but he assures me that something is in the works.Pandan panna cotta gula melaka syrup and sesame tuile ($12.00). The panna cotta isn’t really sweet and all the sweetness comes from the intense syrup. The texture was super smooth which was a good contrast with the crunchy tuile.They might have turned down the volume dial on the music but they still play the music that I love. The staff was attentive and everything came out a timely manner.

One wonders why I’ve stayed away for so long but since the three days of not being there, they have already released a new soft serve flavour and there will be new dishes released in December. Looks like I’ll need to head back there ASAP.

XO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Polo – The Polish White Eagle Club

It has been a few years since I had last been to The Polish White Eagle Club in Turner. Back then, the restaurant was called Kopernik and it was run by an older European couple. Fast forward a few years and the restaurant inside The Polish club is now Polo, the menu is more extensive and the dining room is much busier.

Eating with foodie friends means ordering half the menu- tee hee!Pierogi – Polish dumplings in bacon and caramelised cabbage ($13.00). We chose ‘pork and chicken’ and ‘cheese and potato’ dumplings. I loved the added touch bacon and the caramelised cabbage but a dollop of sour cream would have been awesome. I preferred the pork and chicken between the two dumplings flavours.Crunchy kale new season kale crisps with slivered beetroot, crumbled goat cheese and plum dressing ($13.00). Technically it was described as ‘crispy kale’and crispy it was but it was cooked beyond being edible. As soon as I saw this, I knew the kale was over done and would be terrible and I suggested that my friend take it back but he just ate some of the goats cheese and avoided the kale leaves.Blintz and mushrooms mushroom ragout with re-fried potato blintz and sour cream ($13.00). I found the blintz a bit bland by itself and it definitely needed the sour cream and the delicious mushrooms. It was nice to share this with others but I wouldn’t order just this for my main.Veal schnitzel Polish style pan-fried, crumbed in sourdough rye, served with mashed potato and beetroot salad ($17.00). I didn’t mind the schnitzel but in comparison to other dishes, I probably wouldn’t order this again.Pork knuckle mash, baked apple, caramelised cabbage and salad ($24.00). Don’t be put off by its size, it is mainly bone; most people should be able to finish it easily. I liked the tender meat and the baked apple was a nice pairing. It is definitely a hearty meal during the colder months.Ricotta fritters cinnamon tossed ricotta dumplings with chocolate soil and mulberry sauce. yum ($10.00). We all decided that we had enough room to squeeze in one dumpling each (conveniently there were 5 doughnuts and there were 5 of us). I was really surprised how light and fluffy they were and probably could have had the whole plate to myself. It wasn’t until after we finished eating the dumplings did we notice that there wasn’t any chocolate soil but it didn’t need it. These were definitely worth ordering!Served hot and fresh, I think you could convince anyone to stay for dessert with you.The next time I come back, I would order the pierogi, pork knuckle and ricotta fritters.

Don’t forget that Polo does Pierogi and Polish pint deal on Wednesdays. Full menu available Thursday to SaturdayVenue: Polo Restaurant

Address: 38 David Street, Turner, ACT 2612

Phone: 0422 898 617

Opening times (from the website): The Polish White Eagle Club (Polo Restaurant and Polish Club bar) is now open Wednesday –  Saturday evenings from 18.00. We’re also open every second Saturday for lunch from 11.00 on Continental Deli days or by appointment.

 

Yat Bun Tong re-run

I recently met up with a few fellow food bloggers (check out some of their awesome blogs here and here) for dinner at Yat Bun Tong (see my first post here). It is so nice to meet up with such like minded people and laugh about the same things we go through like- forever questioning ourselves of who is actually really ever reading our blog other than our number one fan (thanks for your support YummyLummy).

Serina from MsFrugralEars with her awesome mandarin skills took charge with ordering and conversing with the staff. It was refreshing not having to look at the menu or having the responsibility on deciding the whole table’s meal, which is the default mode that my friends usually put me in.

Shanghai steamed bun (10 pieces $13.80). It is still no Din Tai Fung, but I guess it is unfair to compare. The dumpling wrapper is the Goldilocks of thickness, not too thin and not too thick, it was just right. I’m still not completely sold on the soup interior but am still happy to have it there. They don’t always remember to give you a spoon but please do request one for easier eating.   Shallot pancake ($7.80). The pancake was crispy and flaky which reminded me of roti with flecks of shallot. I really enjoyed the texture but I think I would have liked more shallots and more salt throughout the pancake.Hot and sour soup ($5.80 per serve). My eyes widened when they lowered this bowl on the table. It was enormous! I asked Serina ‘I thought you only ordered two serves?’, she responded with ‘I did’. The waitress explained that the chef wanted to give us more but would only charge for two serves. I loved that the soup was full of lots of ingredients and most of us easily had two bowls. If it was a tad (chilli) hotter and you added a few drops of chinese vinegar like you’re supposed to, it would have been perfect.I took a photo of the serving bowl next to my bowl so you could see how big it was.Shanghai pan fried pork buns (10 pieces $14.80). This was the one dish I was determined to order after seeing photos from Michelle’s instagram who in turn saw it from Wita (#contagiousfood). The buns were light and fluffy with a good meat filling and a little bit of soup inside. It reminded me very much of Sydney food, which says a lot. I would happily return just to eat these.The filling inside the buns.BBQ duck spring rolls (2 pieces $6.80). We were told that this was a popular menu item and I can see why. A crispy hot spring roll filled exclusively with delicious duck meat complimented by the hoisin dipping sauce. These would make a good starter, maybe I’ll order these next time before I sit down and even look at the menu.Fried handmade noodles with black pepper beef ($15.80). People were starting to get full but insearchofgoldenpudding and I wanted to try their handmade noodles. I really like black pepper beef but usually with rice, it felt odd eating them with noodles especially when I’m used to eating my noodles with pork and vegetables. Some people might not like the fact that it came with no vegetables.

I really liked their handmade noodles, it wasn’t overly oily although it was a tad softer than I would usually have it.  I really like black pepper but even I  thought it was borderline overwhelming, next time I might try their handmade noodle with seafood in X.O sauce.I had a much better experience at Yat Bun Tong this time around because of the selection of food. I will definitely be back to eat more pork buns and eat more noodles.
Yat Bun Tong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yat Bun Tong

We were driving home from Sydney when I realise there was nothing but carrots, eggs and butter in my fridge, so I made plans to meet my friends in Braddon to try out the new dumpling restaurant Yat Bun Tong for dinner.

On a Sunday night without a booking at 7pm, we were very lucky to get a table for four without a reservation. The menus are huge  (and heavy) because of the diverse range of dishes and the accompanying photos. I had to be careful not to over order and there were a few dietary restrictions within the group.I was torn between ordering the Shanghai pan fried pork bun (10 for $14.80) or the Shanghai steamed bun (10 for $13.80) but because I know the pan fried pork buns can be filling, I went with the steamed dumplings so I could order more dishes instead.

I expected them to come out in a particular order but instead they came as they were ready and the gap between waiting times wasn’t that long. It was a struggle to fit everything on the table though as the plates are rather big.

Garlic chicken fried rice ($12.80). I wanted a more garlic flavour but it was nice enough as an accompaniment to the other dishes.Fried beef onion dumplings (15 for $12.80). These weren’t fabulous but still rather tasty and I preferred these over the steamed ones.Pan fried chive cakes (2 for $8.80). Not very flavoursome and definitely not worth ordering again.Shanghai steamed bun (10 for $13.80). There is a little soup inside each dumpling which stayed inside as the dumpling wrapper wasn’t too delicate. I didn’t love the taste of the dumpling though.Deep fried soft shell crab with spicy peppery salt ($19.80). I was surprised to see that this was a rather large serve. The batter was a tad too thick but there was plenty of delicious fried garlic, chilli and shallots.Chinese broccoli with garlic ($14.80). A simple tasty dish to break up the oily and heaviness from the other dishes.Someone told me that Yat Bun Tong have the same owners as Chinese Kitchen Dumpling House in Woden. It’s no Din Tai Fung but it is better than other dumpling places I have tried around town. I would like to come back and try the other dumplings like the Shanghai pan fried pork bun and also try their noodles which I hear is quite nice.

Venue: Yat Bun Tong

Address: 61/10-12 Lonsdale street, Braddon, ACT 2612

Phone: (02) 61520880
Yat Bun Tong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Progressive dinner – Sydney edition 

When I’m in Sydney, I try to eat what I can’t get in Canberra, foods like ramen, fresh sushi, good Thai and of course dumplings. So when I had limited time in Sydney and had only eaten ramen and sushi so far, there was nothing else to do but drag my friends for a progressive dinner to tick more boxes from my ‘to eat’ list.


To go to somewhere new, where over half the menu really excites you but you know you can’t order that much was really hard. My friend was telling me about Petaling Street, an awesome hawker restaurant and I was keen to make it the first stop during our progressive dinner in Sydney.

A few key dishes (and drinks) were chosen and enjoyed by everyone but my favourite dish was the roti canai with curry chicken. The roti was nice and flaky while the curry had lots of flavour with tender chicken.

Progressive dinner stop: #1

Venue: Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food

Address: 760 George Street, Haymarket, Chinatown, Sydney,NSW

Amount per person: $10.00

Cheong fun, roti canai with chicken curry, char kway teow and Hainanese chicken rice.
Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


This was an unexpected stop as a fellow foodie pointed out that we were in close proximity to a Thai place, which did cheap small bowls of noodles. It sounded like a perfect addition to the progressive dinner and I was keen for some Thai food anyway.

Do Dee Paidang have tom yum soups, all with different meats, a choice of noodle and different levels of chilli. I along with the other non-chilli eaters stuck with the tom yum soup with tender pork rib and fresh noodles. We enjoyed the sour taste of the tom yum with the delicious meatiness of the pork ribs, while the hardcore chilli eaters went with the level 3 soup (out of 7). Watching one of the chilli eaters sweat and struggle with the heat of the soup made me curious about how hot their bowl was. I coated my spoon in a little bit of soup (I’m not crazy enough to actually drink any of the soup) and licked it, immediately I could feel the heat on my tongue which quickly spread to the back of my throat. Whoa, that was intense, I wonder who actually eats level 7!

Feeling bad that we were taking up a table even though we just wanted noodle soup, I order entrée of chicken satay skewers ($8.90), which were more expensive than our noodles ($6.00) but were really really delicious and I don’t usually eat satay.

Progressive dinner stop: #2

Venue: Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar & Cafe

Address: 9, 37 Ultimo Rd, Haymarket NSW 2000

Amount per person: $4.20Do Dee Paidang Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


We were told that they were no longer selling Papa roti for the day and my smile quickly turned into a frown. I was really looking forward to eating a coffee bun with a delicious buttery aroma.

Progressive dinner stop: #3

Venue: Papa Roti

Address: 663 George St, Haymarket NSW 2000

Amount per person: five sad faces 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦


Din Tai Fung was along the way of our progressive dinner and it would have been ridiculous not to stop. The hard part was not ordering any fried rice, although my friend couldn’t help but order a pork bun too.

We ordered 24 dumplings (and drinks) between the 5 of us and savoured each and every bite.

Progressive dinner stop: #3

Venue: Din Tai Fung

Address: 644 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $13.00Din Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


You are wondering how we were able to eat more after 3 stops already, but remember we were sharing one delicious original Hot Star chicken ($8.50) between the 5 of us. We tore it into 5 pieces while it was still really hot and it was a few bites of heaven.

Progressive dinner stop: #4

Venue: Hot Star

Address: 96 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $1.70Hot Star Large Fried Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


TimmyC and I were all Aqua S-ed out as we had been there for the past two nights and had already eaten all the flavour combinations but it didn’t stop everyone else from enjoying it. I was surprised TimmyC preferred the pandan ice cream over the lychee (dairy free) but I think it was because of the creamy ice cream texture.

Aqua S change their flavours every Thursday.

Progressive dinner stop: #5

Venue: Aqua S

Address: 27/501 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $5.00Aqua S Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


A friend of ours popped into Black Star Pastry’s pop up store in the Kinokuniya earlier in the day and got some goodies to share. He got their famous strawberry water melon cake ($7.50/slice) and a caramel panna cotta ($9.00).

Progressive dinner stop: #6

Venue: Black Star Pastry (pop up)

Address: The Galleries, 2/500 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $4.80Black Star Pastry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


I had promised to take TimmyC to Messina and a promise is a promise. Everyone else had returned to their hotels and while TimmyC and I light railed our way straight to The Star.

We had chosen ‘Gay ol’ time’ which didn’t taste anything like a gaytime but TimmyC still really enjoyed it.

Progressive dinner stop: #7

Venue: Messina

AddressCafe Court, Level G, 80 Pyrmont StreetPyrmont NSW 2009

Amount per TimmyC: $4.80Gelato Messina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


I was really impressed with the amount of stops we were able to make without being ridiculously full. We got to eat a lot of variety and the best of what every venue had to offer. Tell me dear reader, have you had a progressive dinner?

 

Orient Kitchen 

The lovely Canberra foodie and I caught up at her local shops to explore the new eatery that was Orient Kitchen. Weston Creek is already a hive of different eateries but it was handy to have a ‘Chinese roast meats’ place closer to home.Homemade pan fried dumplings chicken and garlic chive dumplings (12 pieces $13.80). These were pretty tasty although I prefer my dumplings a little more cooked to have that crunchy exterior. I like how they served this with Chinese vinegar and ginger.Mixed BBQ platter (2 choices) roast pork and roast duck ($18.80). I thought the pork had an extremely crunchy crackling and slightly over salted but I did preferred it over the roast duck. I found the roast duck pieces to be too thick (breast pieces) and the meat felt a little gritty and dry; the bony pieces that had a good meat to skin ratio were fabulous though.Shantang chicken boneless crispy chicken in spicy tangy vinegar sauce ($16.80). I really enjoyed this dish as there was plenty of chicken with crispy skin, lots of sauce and it wasn’t too salty. I think if there was more cucumber it would be more refreshing on the palette.They were a bit busy but food and service were very prompt. It felt like more of a take-away or quick meal atmosphere as Canberra foodie and I quickly found ourselves to be the only people left in the restaurant and we felt obliged to leave when they were packing up around us.

There are many menu items that sound tasty at a reasonable price, I’d be keen to go again.

Venue: Orient Kitchen

Address: 19 Brierly Street, Weston, ACT

Phone: (02) 6288 3330
Orient Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wonder meals re-run 

There are three types of Chinese restaurants: 1) the Westernised Chinese restaurant that can be found in most suburbia shops 2) the more traditional Chinese restaurants with Asian delicacies and then there is Wonder Meals.

I have always found Wonder Meals very bizarre; everything from the name, the strange decor down to the menu, which had changed since I had last been. I can’t fully describe it. Menu items include poached tripe with duck blood curd, cold dressed pigs ears and pungent and chilli chicken gizzards just to name a few. I was trying to warn my food companion that things on the menu are a bit strange but we will stick to the ‘safe’ side of things which may or may not be to our detriment.

Set up with chair covers, linen napkins that you will never get to use and surrounded by fake flowers, just another day at Wonder Meals.Steamed and fried bread ($10.80). This was the first thing to arrive within minutes of ordering and I was pleasantly surprised to see it served with condensed milk but it meant that we were eating sweet first. Obviously the fried version tasted better than the steamed but the steamed buns make for good sauce moppers, so we left them for when the main dishes arrived.Fried beef fillets with abalone mushrooms ($20.80). This was very garlic-ky and salty which was balanced out by the boiled rice. It was a fairly big serve because it felt like we kept eating the same thing over and over again; I got a bit bored of it towards the end.Fried garlic shoots with shredded pork ($15.80). I had ordered this previously and it wasn’t as nice this time around. I thought the garlic shoots weren’t at their best which made the whole dish very mediocre.Pan fried dumplings (guotie) ($12.80). After getting fairly full from the previous dishes and being over an hour after we had initially ordered, I just assumed that they had forgotten about these but apparently they didn’t. I tasted the first one and it was very (temperature) hot but left a bitter vegetable taste in my mouth, I then asked for soy sauce and it made it much more tolerable.I was surprised that the restaurant was so busy on Friday night but I did sense the feeling that a lot of tables started to get frustrated with the service after being ignored several times and having to wait a long time between dishes. You really have to come here yourself and order some ‘out of the box’ items to decide if you like it or not. Maybe I’ll be more adventurous next time.

See my first post about Wonder meals here.

Shanghai Dumpling King

I was excited when Shanghai Dumpling King was setting up shop because that meant there was another place south side to eat dumplings until I learnt that they are a sister restaurant of Shanghai Dumpling Cafe in Civic, but an opportunity arose where I was there more for the company rather than the food so fellow foodie Food Porn Journal and I went together.

It was lucky that we had similar tastes so ordering wasn’t an issue; we wanted to try the xiao long bao, pan fried dumplings and some noodles, and that is exactly what we got! Oh and we also squeezed in a dessert (or two).

Steamed mini pork buns also known as Xiao Long Bao, a specialty from Shanghai. Buns are filled with broth so be careful when eating it (8 pieces $11.50). I was pleasantly surprised that the wrapper didn’t break as I picked it up gently and placed it on my spoon. Each dumpling did have a ‘soup’ inside as promised and although it wasn’t terrible; the wrapper was too thick and threw out all the proportions. Not the worst that I’ve had (the bad ones bubble out a thick brown liquid, have not much of a soup inside and the wrappers break easily) but it wasn’t particularly good either.IMG_0948[1]I could see that the wrapper was too thick when they put down the bamboo steamer but I was still willing to give them a go.IMG_0949[1]Seafood pan fried dumplings (15 pieces $13.00). The filling reminded me of a fish paste which I didn’t mind so much (Asian taste buds!) and each of them had a crispy side.IMG_0954[1]Shanghai fried noodles traditional Shanghai style fried noodles stir fried with pak choy and sliced chicken in a soya sauce flavour ($12.50). I love a good noodle and this was by far the best dish of the night. The chicken was moist, the pak choy was fresh and everything was coated in a soy sauce without being overly salty.IMG_0952[1]Dessert~

Pancake filled with red bean paste ($9.50). I was really surprised to see this on the menu as it is not very common (you can also get them at Dumpling Inn). I thought the crispy outer layer in addition with the red bean filling made the pancake overall very dry. I’m used to a more deep fried and oily pancake.IMG_0955[1]A cross section of the red bean pancake. It might appear to be a thin filling but you don’t need that much red bean for the taste.IMG_0956[1]We were deep in conversation so I don’t remember what the wait time was like but it wasn’t particularly long. We didn’t have any waitressing issues or long waiting times like a lot of people seem to be experiencing, but we did go on a Monday night which meant it wasn’t too busy. I wouldn’t go out of my way to say that this place is a ‘dumpling king’ but I would come back and order noodles and maybe try their other main dishes.

See other blogger reviews from Mouthless Mutters and Food Porn Journal.

Venue: Shanghai Dumpling King

Address: 1/33 Gartside Street, Wanniassa, ACT

Phone: (02) 62313456
Shanghai Dumpling King on Urbanspoon

 

Disappointment and lies

I had heard whispers that there was going to be another dumpling restaurant opening in the south side area and they were confirmed when Mouthless Mutters went to Schnitzel Haus next door.

I went there two Saturdays ago to check the area out myself but all I could see was a big red sign which said that Shanghai Dumpling King were going to be open by mid January even though there was no sign of opening yet.

The other thing that I noticed was that their name was very similar to Shanghai Dumpling Cafe, which is one of the few establishments that have made it onto my ‘will not return’ list. I hope they are not associated with each other and I’ll be keen to see if their dumplings and food are any good.IMG_9382

Melbourne long weekend – HuTong Dumpling Bar

To complete the Melbourne experience, of course we had to eat some dumplings in China Town. I was sad that we couldn’t get in to HuTong Dumpling Bar on Saturday night because they were fully booked out but that didn’t stop me from trying again for the Sunday.

It was a little hard to find the restaurant between all the different little laneways between Bourke and little Bourke street, but when we got there we headed straight up to the third level. Despite having the bigger tables it was away from all the hustle and bustle of the other floors and dimly lit which was great for ambience, but not so great for food photos.

image

Fresh homemade dim sum~

Clockwise… Shao-long bao (8 pieces – East China $11.80) *signature dish*  It wasn’t as good as Din Tai Fung but nonetheless better than anything that we have in Canberra. Served hot with the delicious soup enclosed in each dumpling, try not to burn your tongue or loose the soup while picking one up. Be sure to try it with the Chinese vinegar and a few strands of freshly sliced ginger.

Spring onion pancake (2 pieces $6.50) *signature dish* I might have eaten one or two (or 50) shallot cakes in my time and when I saw this on the menu as their ‘signature dish’, I had high expectations. When I had half, I thought it was too oily and not salty enough.

Boiled dumplings stuffed with spinach (12 pieces – North China ($13.20). This seemed to be everyone’s favourite but I prefer my spinach dumplings with a bit more garlic or a bit of prawn.

Pan-fried dumplings (8 pieces – Shanghai $13.20) *signature dish* Crunchy, delicious and with a little bit of soup. The perfect dumpling.

Mains~ apologies for the pictures

Clockwise…  Stir fried string beans with minced pork in chilli sauce ($15.80 – Szechuan) *signature dish*. We all don’t eat that much chilli but we couldn’t come here and not eat a ‘signature dish’ as a main. This was not hot at all as long as you stayed away from the dried chilli, the beans were plump and juicy. I really enjoyed this dish.

Honey chicken ($20.80). Don’t judge me, this was ordered at other people’s request. I did like the fact that it was more chicken than fried batter unlike most places.

Crispy fragrant duck ($25.80 – Shanghai). The skin was lovely and crispy, there wasn’t that much special for the actual duck meat. Duck is a very boney animal, just a heads up for people who haven’t ordered a whole duck before.

Sautéed snow pea shoot in garlic ($16.80). A very Asian dish and not for those who are going on a make out spree later. I really enjoyed it, it had a good dose of garlic and a delicious way to get my greens uptake.

Sautéed beef fillet in a black pepper sauce ($32.80). This had a soft tender beef but the sauce was loaded with black pepper. I order this dish a lot and this is the most peppery version I’ve eaten and I also thought the price was a little steep even for beef fillet.

We were too full to eat dessert but we were all thoroughly satisfied with the food and the portions. The service was somewhat attentive and even though we were supposed to be out before 8, we weren’t rushed out the door.

I didn’t realise that there was a minimum charge of $25.00 per person for bookings of 6+ people, luckily that wasn’t a problem for us with the amount of food we ordered.

Venue: HuTong Dumpling Bar

AddressCBD, 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne, VIC« be sure to book the right one as there are two locations!

Phone: (03) 9650 8128

Websitehttp://hutong.com.au/

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon