I heard about this place from my hairdresser. She knew something about dumplings but couldn’t remember the name. I would have known if Din Tai Fung was coming to Melbourne. So went up to emporium to check it out. Located in the “food court” of emporium ( I know they don’t like calling this). Rather than food court, they like to call it “cafe court”, basically clusters of restaurants, cafes congregating in one floor. E.g. EARL canteen, Jimmy Grants, Rice Workshop, I Love Pho, Chinta Ria etc. We were lucky there were no one at all lining up here. Theres a glass window where you can peer through and check out the chef’s rolling up the dough to make their Xiao Long Baos. This is our second time coming here, but brought some friends to sample some more dishes. Luckily we booked as there was a massive queue already.
Looking at the menu, found out its actually a chain restaurant based in Sydney. Seems like their speciality are dumplings but also typical Shanghai dishes. Prices are quite reasonable for their dumplings in particular. Xiao Long Bao – $7.50 for 8 pieces!
The interior has been done up nicely to mimic old shanghai. With comical posters on the wall and lots of wooden furnishings. Soy sauce and vinegar are a must for the Xiao Long Baos.
Had to have a Tsing Tao with my meal. Reminiscing my time when I visited shanghai ordering beer at a local restaurant.
As with Chinese dishes, theres not sequence to what comes out first. Basically whatever is cooked first comes first. first comes the Shanghai noodle with shredded pork. Didnt think there was enough pork and was a bit on the oily side. Hu Tong’s Shanghai noodle seems more fulfilling.
Stir-fried beans, another Chinese classic. Again bit oily and lacking some mince.
Their winning dishes are definitely their dumplings. Pan fried dumplings was crunchy on the bottom, and has nice hot sauce inside. Watch your mouth! What I like about these are that its not just sloppily rolled, but each one are uniform and cooked perfectly.
This is something we couldn’t order between the two of us. We kept looking what other people ordered and I really think you first eat with your eyes. If everyone is ordering it, you should order it too! This deep fried barramundi had plenty of meat. Again it was oily but had plenty of flavour packed in it. A westerner’s favourite as they love their sweet and sour sauce. Goes well with rice!
Calorie killer this next dish. Salted egg yolk with deep fried tofu. Salted egg goes well with prawns, chicken ribs as well. Never really tried it with Tofu. Very flavoursome but can be a it too fattening.
We do get extremely picky when it comes to Xiao Long Bao. To this date, apart from when Hu Tong first opened, none of the xiao long bao in Melbourne has got my approval. We used to fly up to Sydney to Din Tai Fung to get our Xiao Long Bao fix. This aint bad, still not comparable to Din Tai fung standard. The skin remains slightly thicker and a bit too much filling inside. However, definitely one of the best you can get in Melbourne.
Again, one of my other favourite dishes here. 2 Rules to a good pan fried pork bun. Crispy skin, and nice hot filling with soup inside. ITs hard to perfect it because you can overcook the skin and undercook the meat inside. These massive dumplings are so filling. You really need a couple of friends to join you.
Slightly disappointed with this dish. The duck was very salty, theres no need to dip it in the spice mix. The steamed buns were nice but thought it was over seasoned.
Very chinese decor inside. don’t know if you’re meant to climb up there or what.
Almost demolished our meal.
Can check out how they roll their dumplings out.
Overall, I would come here for their dumplings. They have a few good dishes worth trying out as well. If you can’t fly to Sydney for din Tai Fung, its probably the next best alternative.
Tip – Book in advance for a table. Beaware of the opening hours. Stupid really but emporium only opens till like 7or 9pm depending on which day. Also go with more people if you want to try their bigger dishes like the duck and fish. Also don’t over order gluten!
Rating – 14.5/20
Dish of the day – Their pan fried dumplings and xiao long bao.
What doesn’t change ? – the amount of oil we chinese use!
Where else for dumplings ?
Hutong dumpling bar – 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne. Used to have awesome Xiao Long Baos when they flew the chefs from Din Tai Fung over. Sadly, they couldn’t replicate their standards.
Mr Huang Jin – 525 Collins st, Melbourne. Perhaps the thinnest skin Xiao Long Baos you will get in Melbourne. Rivals to Hu Tong and New Shanghai. They also have the crab meat dumplings as well.