Through the large window of Yulongfu’s shopfront on Bourke Street, passers-by can watch co-owner Yong Liu artfully rolling out fresh dumpling wrappers, filling them with juicy pork mince and carefully pleating them with 16 even folds to create a dainty xiao long bao, or soup dumpling.

Yulongfu calls itself a “steamed bun restaurant” – the xiao long bao recipe has been passed down through the family of Emily Liu (Yong’s wife) from her great-grandfather, who first wrote it down in 1904. Sixteen folds is the magic number for creating a tiny hole that’s large enough to allow steam to enter and cook the meat, but not too big that the soup gets waterlogged.

The restaurant serves classic pork xiao long bao, another sort made with crab, and a signature black truffle and pork number, where truffle paste is mixed through the meat mixture as well as the dumpling skin, itself dyed black with activated charcoal.

The rest of menu also leans Shanghainese, with soft pan-fried pork buns; drunken chicken (boozed up on Chinese wine); sweet and sour pork; roast duck; and chicken wontons in house-made chilli oil, drizzled with a moreish peanut-sesame sauce; among others.

To drink there’s a short wine list and a number of beers, including Tsing Tao from China. Yulongfu is not a cocktail bar by any means, but the team can make most of your classic mixes. There are also fruit smoothies, plum juice, herbal teas and grass jelly.

The large, 130-seat space is split over two levels, with a fit-out of blond timber, vertical slats, birdcage light fixtures (complete with ornamental birds), and cushy lime-green banquettes. It’s popular with the office crowd, which comes and goes during lunch breaks, but in the evenings the restaurant is filled with larger groups who want to settle in and stay a while.

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Updated: May 14th, 2021

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