The exquisite anticipation of plump, juicy dumplings takes hold of you quickly as you walk through the door of Hu Tong. In both venues - CBD and Prahran - there are vantage points where you can watch chefs make the small gems of flavour by hand to then be steamed, plated and taken to tables on which sit chilli sauce and black vinegar to dress them in.
This is Shanghainese food from eastern China where dishes are traditionally small and designed for sharing. Flavours can be bold through the use of chillis and vinegars but also more subdued if preferred. They do a great drunken chicken and the classic Shao-long bao, which are small dumplings filled with meat and soup are a textural time-bomb - watch how you bite into them or the soup may finish up in your lap!
Both venues are very busy which means the staff, while friendly most of the time, aren’t looking to stop and chat. This is a high-turnover restaurant whose aim is to deliver good quality Shanghaianese food to the table with little fuss and that’s what they’re very good at.