Tag Archives: Melbourne CBD

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
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TIM HO WAN
206 BOURKE STREET
MELBOURNE, VIC 3000
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SAKE RESTAURANT AND BAR
HAMER HALL, ARTS CENTRE MELBOURNE
100 ST KILDA ROAD, MELBOURNE, VIC 3000
TEL: (03) 8687 8128
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DIN TAI FUNG
EMPORIUM MELBOURNE
LEVEL 4, 287 LONSDALE STREET
MELBOURNE, VIC 3000
PH: (03) 9654 1876
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SHANGHAI STREET DUMPLING AND JUICY BUN
342 LITTLE BOURNE STREET,
MELBOURNE, VIC 3000
TEL 0402 627 832
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Lee Ho Fook

Over-indulge me

It starts with ‘is that a lot for two people?’
By the end, the answer was all too obvious.

 

Walking through the downstairs bar, you can tell you are in for a uber-cool ride. Heading up-stairs to the large, mess hall style dining area, its difficult to tell just what you are in for. I never visited the original, more street style Lee Ho Fook, but comes with good reputation. It is often a gamble, these establishments that make their reputation on the streets, serving honest and authentic cuisine. The danger being when they move to the cbd, they forget their roots – what made them so special to begin with.

It’s the culinary version of liking their old stuff better than their new stuff. But Lee Ho Fook jazz up the classic dishes to beautifully artistic plates, but load up on the flavour and complexity. It’s another level.

Its an undeniable fact that all good meals start with oysters, and these pacific oysters came with an added kick of wasabi, piquing my taste buds for what was to follow.

Chongqing style chicken crackling was hot, with extra chilli and loaded with spice. Completely antithetical to the oysters, the ying to the oysters yang.

Crispy eggplant was rich.   Sweet and rich. Coated in sticky red vinegar, the eggplant was lost in the candied coating, and the serving was too large, but still too difficult to resist.

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The raw hiramasa kingfish with leeks was mistimed, arriving after the eggplant, indicative of the very friendly, but somewhat casual service. Delicate and fresh, it would have been better had it come immediately after the oysters. Unfortunately our taste buds had been beaten up by the egg plant and the sashimi didn’t stand a chance.

The wagyu beef sang choi bau was the best looking dish of the night. Served with beef strips and crispy carrots, a brilliant re-imagining of the classic street dish.

Finally, and most significantly, the seafood rice, which was not a side as we expected but a bowl of soupy, congee style stew. Sweet, and salty, but ultimately too rich heavy and large for the distance we had travelled. It would have been a perfect dish for a group of ten. Unfortunately the two of us barely made a dent in it. Flattered they thought our appetite was up to the challenge.

Lee Ho Fook, has their eyes on the future but their feet are firmly planted in their heritage. This is one example where a move of streets has been a move for the better. Just take some friends.
11-15 Duckboard Place Melbourne 3000
03 9077 6261
info@leehofook.com.au

 

Lucy Liu

Lucy Liu

Say my name.

Betel Leaf

Betel Leaf

She is good at many things my beautiful girlfriend, least of all date nights. And this time, she surely nailed it.

Following the excellent David Bowie Is exhibition at the ACMI centre (go … just go!) we crossed the street to hit up Lucy Liu for some contemporary Asian.

Contemporary Asian has achieved a level of ubiquity in Melbourne, from the Saigon Sally’s and Tokyo Tina’s to the outstanding Supernormal and Chin Chin’s. The test is will Lucy Liu offer anything different.  Or does it just sound like the others?

For starters, Lucy Liu is more fun than its contemporaries. There is a separate bar area where one can wait for their table, which is handy because a wait at Lucy Liu appears mandatory. She gets busy Lucy does, and she gets busy quickly. Even on this Wednesday night we were still looking at a forty minute wait, or two Sauvignon blancs.

Yellow Fin Tuna Tatami

Yellow Fin Tuna Tatami

The bar, and restaurant, is filled with the young and the fun crowd. Loud and brash, well dressed and well heeled.  One suspects they are not necessarily there for the food, but there to be seen. Either way, they’ve come to the right place.

The menu consists of fairly standard classics but wonderfully executed and presented in contemporary manners, like the tuna tataki served with pickled vegetables and rice crackers, or the fabulously fresh betel leaf, served with tuna tartar and fish roe. The ultimate kick starter to the evening.

The curries pack serious punch too, as did our prawn and mussel curry, even if a little light on in prawns, and a little heavy on mussels, it knocked my Mrs out for six, and she is a long-time chilli devotee.

Ginger Creme Brûlée

Ginger Creme Brûlée

Desserts generally don’t fly for me at Asian restaurants, but the ginger crème brulee, although not Asian in heritage, was rich and velvety, with a perfect palm sugar crust. Again, a classic but perfectly executed with just enough ginger and palm sugar to give it an asian twist, albeit a finely subtle one.

If you must be seen, go to Lucy Liu, but while you’re there, try the food. You wont be disappointed.

23 OLIVER LANE

Melbourne

Vic 3000

OPEN 7 DAYS

Lunch + Dinner

11am – late

03 9639 5777

 

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