178 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9041 7009
When Melbourne’s first Din Tai Fung restaurant opened a few months ago, the queues snaking up to the Emporium restaurant were insane. You’d think this was the first ever dumpling restaurant in Melbourne or something. 45 minutes just for the privilege of sitting down in the restaurant and eating probably the world’s most famous xiaolongbao? Yeah, nah.
Sure, I love my dumplings as much as the next human being but this was a line that I’m not willing to cross, especially given how pricey my DTF experience in Sydney was some years ago. Luckily, this is Melbourne which means that there’s plenty of other dumpling options in the city – and most of them are within walking distance of DTF. Like Juicy Bao, for example. I had never even heard of this place but during my last trip to Melbourne, my friend Sam alerted me to this place and suggested we have a late lunch there. They did dumplings, they did it cheap and chances are you didn’t have to wait ages.
We took the liberty of ordering several shared dishes.
The Shanghai noodles were excellent; I couldn’t stop slurping on the slippery fat wheat noodles, gorgeously coated with soy and oil, tinted with the slightest hint of sweetness. They were also generous with the mushrooms, greens and pork whereas many other places tend to be stingy on dishing those all important ingredients out.
Sam insisted I try their peanut butter pork and prawn wontons. They were a lot like the ones served at Shanghai Street; I can never get enough of the odd yet delicious combination of creamy peanut butter and unctuous chilli oil. I do prefer the ones at Shanghai Street though – the wontons there just seemed to have more texture and flavour.
Finally, we had to order a basket of their namesake xiao long bao. The skins may not have been as delicately silky as the ones that cover Hu Tong’s coveted XLBs but I loved the more robust flavours in the filling here. Those who prefer a sweeter XLB broth will also give these a thumbs up.
Juicy Bao may not have DTF’s accolades or the polished décor (and menu) that Hu Tong has. Hell, their name is borderline dirty. But if you’re after a no-nonsense dumpling feast that won’t break the bank and disappoint your tastebuds, then go here.