Taking to Melbourne with a spoon - The Food Report

Three and a bit days in Melbourne gives quite some scope for eating out. My first stop was Hu Tong Dumpling Bar.  I had never heard of this place but coming along Market Lane, one look into the window at No 14  at the steamer baskets was enough to convince me we should go in. We get a tiny corner table under the glass window looking into the kitchen, the rythmical theatre of the dumpling makers ensues.  With their hands on auto-pilot two of the kitchen staff dumple on the double. The Shao-long biu dumplings which are the house specialty, get made, again, and again and again. There is a gracious economy to the dough rolling, the thin rolling pin stretching out tiny circles, packing the mixture, which must be part stock, and stretching , pleating and twisting the dumpling top. Once steamed these dumplings exude a rich soup, so the trick is to take a little bite to drink up the soup first, or ease it back into your bowl, so you can spoon up the soup later, before you properly waylay your dumpling.  There are shreds of ginger, not quite raw and not quite pickled to go withe the soup dumpling. These excellent dumplings I only order on my second visit.  The first visit had me fall for the wonton dumplings with chilli sauce. These are the kind of food that you eat, and soon find yourself plotting to eat again.  Perfectly silky dumplings in an aromotic sauce, lively with schezwhan and chili, spring onion, a little oily so the flavour holds on to everything in just the right way. That we went back the next day speaks volumes. Might I recommend a  slight hangover to go with the palliative Tiger Beer, a plate of chilli wontons, the shao-long biu ( my spelling no doubt is dodgy) a pot of tea, pork dumplings and turnip dumplings? Yes!

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