I work in Flinders Street between King & William Street. One of the very few things that I dislike about my place of work is that fact there are not heaps of food places nearby. There are a few but when you only have a one hour lunch break it is difficult to venture further into the city.
About a year ago, a few girls from my work went to HuTong Dumpling Bar. I loved it. This was before I started blogging about food so no photos! The sad thing is, because it is so far, I never got a chance to get back there. In December, 2012, the owners of HuTong opened up a sister restaurant in Crown Casino called Man Tong Kitchen. Honestly, it felt like my prayers had been answered. A dumpling place from a brand which I loved and only five minutes from my work! The girls & I went during the first week of opening and we have since returned in the New Year, so this blog post is a combination of my two visits.
Salt & Pepper Squid - $13.00
I am a bit of a sucker for deep fried seafood and especially if it is salt & pepper flavoured, so there was no way that I was not going to order this! The squid was perfectly cooked. The outside was crunchy and the inside soft & juicy. The squid did not feel oily at all. Very tasty!
Peking Duck - $12.00 for 2 pieces
The last time I had Peking Duck (at Flower Drum for almost double the price), I spent a small fortune. Whilst the Peking Duck was amazing, I felt that the one at Man Tong was at a similar level. The duck was juicy and melt in your month. Two (minor) changes that I would make would be to either have some more sauce in the pancake or sauce to dip into. I would also like to see the duck skin to be crispier. I felt it was reasonably crispy but I just wanted that extra crunch. Having said that, I was quite satisfied with this dish and would order it again.
Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (Shanghai) - $13.80 for six pieces
I love how the dumplings are served as they have come out of the pan, with the crispy pan-fried edge around them. The skins of these dumplings are the perfect thickness and the pork mince inside is good well. These are a basic dumpling but Man Tong does it really well. I know I could quite easily eat a few of these.
Signature's Xiao Long Bao (East China) - $8.80 for 4 pieces
This is one of the dishes that HuTong is very well known for, so of course I had to try it here. These are known to Westerners, like me, as the 'Soup Dumplings.' They are a pork dumpling but there is some soup in the dumpling as well, like a pork broth. I don't know if there is a correct way to eat these (I am curious to know, please leave a comment!) but I ten to take a little bite from the edge of the dumpling and then suck out all the soup before consuming the dumpling. I have not tried a lot of Xiao Long Bao's before but these are pretty good and I would struggle to find ones that beat these. The skin is a nice thickness so it is able to hold the soup in there. The pork broth is really nice and hot and it really enjoyable to suck out of the dumpling. This is one of my highlights of Man Tong and I know I will be back, even if it is just for these little babies!
Wontons with Hot Chilli Sauce (Szechuan) - 8 pieces for $13.80
Another pork dumpling dish, this time with a hot chilli sauce. There is a bit of oil mixed in with this sauce and it is nice to dip the dumpling in whilst you are eating it or pour some sauce on top. Whenever I think of Szechuan flavours, I think of spice! I would love the sauce to be a bit hotter. Don't get me wrong, the dumplings and the sauce are good but I would love that extra kick, given it is a Szechuan dish.
Cooked Beef in Chilli Oil with Spices - (off the menu) - price unknown
One of the dishes that I adored at HuTong was the beef in chilli oil dish. This was something that you would eat with steamed rice, so this if could soak up the sauce. The spoon you are given to eat the beef is a slotted spoon so you are able to drain out most of the oil. This is the definition of a Szechuan dish because it is super hot. As well as being loaded with heaps of dried & fresh chillies there is a spice in there which I don't know the English name of. This spice is something that shouldn't be eaten directly in large quantities. My Chinese friend told me it actually numbs your tongue. I tried a couple of them (they are small round grayish/brownish seed like things) and I did find that I had a mild sensation on my tongue for a few minutes.
This is something that was not on the menu at Man Tong but as we had tried it at HuTong, we described the dish to the waiter and they were able to make it up for us. It is a massive bowl. We three of us eating, we did not make much of a dent in it. It is a nice dish but is very spicy. I see it as more of a winter dish. It is not something that I would eat during summer. I didn't eat all of the chillies in the dish as that would have just been an overload and you can taste the chilli on the beef.
Overall, I have been very satisfied with both of my experiences at Man Tong Kitchen. The service is good, the food is very good and although it is slightly expensive compared with similar restaurants, I think the quality of the food makes up for it. Highly recommended
Crown Entertainment Complex,
Corner of Clarendon Street & Crown Riverwalk,