Food Fight – Dumpling Edition

Food Fight – Dumpling Edition.

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Tim Ho Wan

As queues for Tim Ho Wan’s Michellin starred dumplings and baked pork buns extended around the newly opened Melbourne venue, the gauntle has been thrown and Melbourne’s dumpling wars have gone up another notch. Let’s get into it …

Hu Tong. A local favourite with their Shao-Long Bao dumplings, delicately made but hiding a powerball of pork mince in steaming soup. Despite being the crowd pleaser, it’s the underrated Steamed Prawn and Crab dumplings that should be the hero, but the Bao is where the crowd’s are heading.
Verdict: a Melbourne favourite and reliable yum cha option when the crowds become too much.

Speaking of crowds, Hong Kong’s Tim Ho Wan achieved deserved recognition as the world’s cheapest Michellin starred restaurant in 2010, and since then has ventured towards world domination. The award in 2010 would signify the move away from fine dining and spur on the momentum of street food, the baked pork buns were hailed as revolutionary. Fluffy dough, with a sweet crust and even sweeter contents, they were made by the bakery load, but the stained glass crystal dumplings, never achieved the same recognition. A shame, as for this judge, the dumplings are the true heroes of this international superstar.
Verdict: must try, if you don’t mind the queue, and with so many other contenders, life’s too short.

The dark horse of the contenders may upset traditionalists, but the steamed wagyu dumplings, and the prawn shumai at Sake are worthy of a podium finish in this battle and I will fight anyone who disagrees. Soft, silky, and pillow-like, choosing between these, and arguably the best sushi in town (stay tuned for sushi battle) on the same menu, you are faced with the world’s most delicious dilemma. As taco girl says, why not have both?

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Sake

Verdict: probably the best looking dumplings in town, with the wagyu being a personal favourite. Definitely good for a couple rounds.

 

The old timer, the legend, the one that started the shanghai pork dumpling trend, Din Tai Fung. Is there even anything else on the menu? We all know it, we all love it, and we will all go back again. It may only have one weapon in its arsenal, but it’s a deadly punch. The most perfectly contructed Xios-Long Bao, with surgical expertise by the surgically attired, they deserve more time to savour, but if you’re not burning your mouth on the soupy explosion, you’re doing it wrong.
Verdict: precision, expertise, beauty … what more can you say? Its not just a dumpling, it’s art.

 

Finally, we have the street fighter. The underdog. The Rocky Balboa of Melbourne dumplings. It’s not fancy, it’s definitely not pretty, but its queues are relative to the size of its tiny tuck shop interior, and the dumplings of Shanghai Street Dumpling and Juicy Bun are the best in the Melbourne. What they lack in beauty, they doubly make up with flavour. These powder kegs of pork should be too big to eat in one go, but being so hot and so soupy the only option is to bite the bullet and go all in. Burnt mouths and soupy chins will soon be forgotten, because when they taste this good, nothing else matters.

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Shanghai Street Dumpling and Juicy Bun

Verdict: the best in Melbourne, and a worthy winner, where the focus is on flavour and looks be damned. Order up, and take the left-overs home. And make sure there is room for the soupy pork buns, the early favourite for pork bun battle…

 

 

HUTONG DUMPLING BAR
14-16 MARKET LANE
MELBOURNE, VIC 3000
TEL: (03) 9650 8128
visit website

TIM HO WAN
206 BOURKE STREET
MELBOURNE, VIC 3000
visit website

SAKE RESTAURANT AND BAR
HAMER HALL, ARTS CENTRE MELBOURNE
100 ST KILDA ROAD, MELBOURNE, VIC 3000
TEL: (03) 8687 8128
visit website

DIN TAI FUNG
EMPORIUM MELBOURNE
LEVEL 4, 287 LONSDALE STREET
MELBOURNE, VIC 3000
PH: (03) 9654 1876
visit website

SHANGHAI STREET DUMPLING AND JUICY BUN
342 LITTLE BOURNE STREET,
MELBOURNE, VIC 3000
TEL 0402 627 832
visit website

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