I had an RDO today but instead of having an “I-Don’t-Have-To-Run-day” by sitting around at home and doing nothing, I had to get my arse into the city to do my very first assignment for a degree that’s going to take me donkey years to complete. Now, school may not start until next week but I guess the folks at Monash are sadists because they dumped our first assignment on pre-enrolment day, a task that involved visiting court(s), sitting in on at least two hearings and writing crap about it. Which is why Adam and I ended up walking into Melbourne Magistrates at 9am this morning and spending pretty much all morning observing hoons getting told off before our tummies started rumbling.
We ended up going to lunch with the promise of going back to the courts again afterwards (we didn’t). I was keen on going to Stalactites (believe or not, I’ve never been) but Adam wanted to try one of those illustrious xiaolongbaos at Hu Tong so we ended up going there instead. Normally, I don’t write about any subsequent restaurant visits after my initial visit (or if I do, they are very brief write-ups at best) but I was so dissatisfied with my second visit that I feel like I must share.
The xiaolongbaos were good – enough to make Adam go “mmmm” but I felt that there was something “off” about them and did not enjoy them as much as I did the first time I went. They seemed flatter. Less tasty. Tired. While still much better than the limp biscuits that other Melbourne restaurants serve, I was still left yearning…
In my previous visit, the two other dishes we ordered were so disappointing. I figured that we just so happened to order the wrong things that day and were just unlucky. With this in mind, I was determined to find two new dishes to (hopefully) enjoy. This was something that we randomly chose from the menu: noodle soup with pickled vegetables and pork ($8.50). Not something that I would usually order but I felt like noodles and Adam got a little irked when I suggested Shanghainese rice cakes (“again?!”) so the noodle soup prevailed. When it was presented to the table, I immediately regretted my decision. It looked so boring. Okay fine, it’s only $8.50, what did you expect Libby?! But still, so frighteningly dull. And it tasted as boring as it looked. A very plain broth, which tasted more like water than even “water and MSG”, failed to bring out the flavours of the pork mince and pickled vegies. Never again.
The final dish we ordered was a plate of pan-fried pork dumplings (12 for $8.50). A few bloggers have said that these dumplings were pretty pretty good which was what prompted me to order a plate. So imagine my frustration when the dish arrived a good 20 minutes later than the last dish… and COLD. Clearly they had been sitting in the kitchen for quite some time which is not a very good thing but oh wells, we went on with the show. The plate was covered in some thin, dry crepe-like substance (um, why?) which tasted slightly sweet and sitting on top of the thin layer were the dumplings which seemed more “steamed” than “pan-fried.” The word “rubbery” came to mind too. I’m sure that if the dumplings had been hot, they would have been rather decent. There was even a little bit of broth inside each dumpling which would’ve been a pleasant surprise… HAD THEY BEEN HOT. And while we did manage to finish off everything, we both left the place thinking that our $25.50 would’ve gone a bit better elsewhere… such as the nearby Shanghai Village which do pan-fried dumplings HOT, crunchy and full of flavour.
Hu Tong, unless you sort out whatever issues you have in the kitchen we won’t be coming back again. Not even if we have a xiaolongbao craving. You get a FAIL this time around. Grrrr.