Hutong Dumpling Bar and MoVida Next Door

HuTong Dumpling Bar
14-16 Market Ln
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Another end of a semester, another basket of dumplings at HuTong Dumpling Bar. And because I’ve already reviewed everything else about the place here, let’s just hop, skip and jump straight to the food.

Xiao Long Bao (8 for $11.8)
Last time we visited, we found that their signature Xiao Long Bao (8 for $11.8) had gone drastically downhill. We put it to a bad day and decided to give them one last chance. Bad move. Inside the no-longer-translucent skin was a congealed fatty mess of what I can only hope to be subpar mince. It was a long, long way from the good old days, where the dumplings were firm little balls of mince and a squirt of piping hot broth, all pleated up neatly in tissue-thin skin. Never again.
Wontons with Hot Chilli Sauce (8 for $9.8)

Thankfully the Wontons with Hot Chilli Sauce (8 for $9.8) were just as fabulous as ever; tight little fists in a sweet and spicy sauce that’s scattered with toasted chilli and sesame seeds, though it is a little less meaty than it used to be.

Squid in Salt and Pepper ($8.8)
Indulging Chris’ new-found fascination with Squid in Salt and Pepper ($8.8), we ordered a plate to share. It arrived worryingly quickly, and its temperature confirmed that it had probably been sitting out for a while. Luckily the batter was still flaky and crisp, and the squid tender and chewy. But the whole dish lacked the complexity of a good spice mix, and if I were to describe it in one word, it would be salty. It was decent tasting, but I wouldn’t order it again.
We’ve been here enough times to know that this poor performance isn’t just a once (or twice) off. HuTong used to be amazing, serving the best xiao long bao in Melbourne, but the last few visits proved that the standards have dropped like Dumbledore from the tallest tower of Hogwarts. I really wanted to keep loving HuTong, I really did. But my heart (and tastebuds) have been broken once too many. I won’t be back.
Rating: 11.5/20 – even though you broke my heart and killed me.
HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

MoVida Next Door
164 Flinders St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
And now that limp excuse of a celebratory dinner has rolled off my unsatisfied body, we moved onto dessert at one of my favourite places in Melbourne – MoVida Next Door. Dessert AND a few nibbles of course; how can you say no to that seductive tapas menu?

A twenty minute wait later, we found ourselves seated along a little bar overlooking Flinders Street, munching on some fantastic sourdough. It’s a wonderfully romantic corner that’s perfect for sneaking a few cheeky kisses, but it was also the darkest spot in the entire restaurant, absolutely awful for photos – You have been warned.

Boquerone ($3.5ea)

Not having tried the Boquerone($3.5ea) before, I ordered a single one to satisfy my curiosity. Shame, because I could have eaten a dozen. On top of a brittle disk of crouton sat a ruby orb of cherry tomato, draped with a criss-cross of white anchovy. Put the whole thing in your mouth and savour the sweetly acidic burst of tomato mingling with the dainty brininess of the anchovy slivers. It’s heaven I tell you.

Croqueta ($4ea)

And for Chris, a snack of Croqueta ($4ea). Neither of us could really fault this dish – mashed potato infused with sharp mahon cheese and hints of leek encased in a golden shell, it’s comfort food at its classiest.

Ventresca De Bonito ($13)
Ventresca De Bonito ($13)

Branching out into the conservas menu, we ordered some Ventresca De Bonito ($13), which were white tuna belly fillets in olive oil, served with some pickled garlic and toasted bread. We peeled the tuna slices off the neat layers inside the tin and draped them over some outrageously crunchy sourdough, topping it all off with white garlic petals. The olive oil oozes out from the tuna, and all down your fingers, the moment you sink your teeth into the flaky but firm flesh. The sweet and sour notes of the pickled garlic provide a counterpoint for the richness of the fish. Sometimes John West simple really is best.

Crema Catalana ($13.5)

And of course, the Crema Catalana ($13.5). I’ve already raved and raved about it here, so I won’t say anything more than that this is a must order!

After that atrocity of a first dinner, MoVida Next Door managed to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and put it back together, even shinier than before. I think I’ve found my new post-exam celebratory spot.
And then we went and rode on the glowing seesaw at Federation Square. Good times. 
Rating: 17/20 – marry me movida?

MoVida Next Door on Urbanspoon

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  • Reply tronixstuff 02/07/2012 at 2:16 am

    Wow – that’s creepy. I tried the same first two dishes as you at HuTong last week and came to the same conclusion. Thick skinned xlb with oily goop inside. And $3 for tea is a bit too much. Thanks for the interesting reviews, keep them up.

    • Reply ming 03/07/2012 at 8:12 am

      Thanks very much for dropping by, and HAH! Oily Goop! Wish I had thought of that perfect description :p

  • Reply sophler 02/07/2012 at 3:17 pm

    Your photos are amazing, Ming. The first time I had HuTong was last year, and I can’t remember my experience there – but I remember it being good. My friends have told me that HuTong has dropped their quality of their XLB’s which is disappointing. Do you have any recommendations of where I could grab good quality XLB’s – I’m really craving them! Blogs are always great, keep it up, love!

    • Reply ming 03/07/2012 at 8:15 am

      Thannk you so much for being such a loyal reader, it really means a lot to me :) as for the XLB bit, I’ve heard the ones at Shanghai Street Dumpling (just off elizabeth street) are really good, though I can’t vouch for them personally as I haven’t tried them. But the other dumplings they make there are top notch, so that’s definitely a good sign!

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