Gathering a group at Hutong Dumpling House in Market Lane in Melbourne feels like an eternity ago, but it isn't that long ago between one lockdown and another. It's always great fun, made even more so by the chap looking after us who had that rock star kind of service going on. Two parts efficient, one part cheeky and the other part hilarious.
Hutong has long been part of Melbourne's heart and soul - not at the top end of the food chain but solid, uncomplicated and serving great food, for what seems like forever, more like 15 years. If you've not been to Beijing, this is what an alleyway dumpling house is like, except Hutong is 3 floors of goodness and probably 3 times the size of an alleyway dumpling house in Beijing. But the food... it's good
We found a solid enough bottle of Chardy to start while we waited for the rest of the party. The wine list is not amazing but perfectly fine for a midweek evening of dumplings. Cant have been too bad given we discovered three of them on the bill. Oops.
Dining in a party of five like this is interesting, especially when there are a couple of vegans, and one of us with an allergy. But it was seamless, with said service star making it easy for our friends to make choices while we chose to go full gluttons on dumplings and all sorts.
You simply cannot visit Hutong without eating the specialities - xiao long bao, spicy wonton and pan fried dumplings of some sort. We added silky beancurd spring rolls, boiled spinach dumplings, and more. There is something about this kind of service, where efficiency is obvious but it doesn't feel stiff or forced. Our man kept us entertained, glasses well topped up, which is probably why we found three bottles on the bill. Opps again.
Mains veered towards some usual suspects - I'm always up for a good special fried rice, and anything Szechuan. Dry Chicken in hot chili, pan fried shredded beef Szechuan style, and some veggie dishes had the carnivores under control, while a number of modified dishes of eggplant, mushrooms and chinese broccoli sorted our vegan guests, with steamed rice of course.
Dessert was a bridge too far but I was very tempted with sweet salty egg yolk spring rolls with ice cream. I think I settled for another glass of wine over anything else.
Hutong Dumpling House is a great place to gather friends, share some terrific food and have a jolly good time.
14-16 Market Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Open 7 days for lunch 11.30-3.00pm Open for dinner 5.30pm 7 days. Bookings essential