Review: a progressive dinner from East to Man Tong Kitchen (Melbourne)

Melbourne is a multicultural hub brimming with an array of delightfully diverse cuisines from all over the globe. In particular our range of Asian eateries that are sprinkled throughout the CBD brings so much variety to that one condensed area, meaning it really does take a lot to stand out from the crowd. The Hutong Group are big players on the scene, a crew behind some of the city’s most popular contemporary Asian bars and restaurants, and hopping between their several venues only goes to show the invaluable contribution they’ve had to the F&B landscape.

The following is a recap of a progressive dinner we were recently invited on, showcasing hotspots East, Hu Tong Dumpling Bar, and Man Tong Kitchen.

We begin our evening at East, a lovely albeit unusual Chinese Tapas and Cocktail bar. Upon arrival we are immediately knocked off our feet by the ‘The Great East’, a cocktail with a definite kick! With vodka, gin, ginger, cucumber, chilli, and lemon juice this is sure to spark you up for a night out, or at the very least cure the common cold. The interior is inviting and spacious with a relaxed yet refined atmosphere, and the tapas are an interesting addition to an asian restaurant. The Crispy Cheesy Potato Balls with creamy sauce were my favourite, along with the fresh and crunchy edamame beans.

Next we arrive at Hu Tong Dumpling Bar, notorious for, you guessed it, their incredible array of dumplings. Also esteemed for their signature Xiao Long Bao, the venue itself is somewhat of a labyrinth with people hidden away on multiple levels enjoying the feast placed in front of them. The boiled spinach dumplings are an absolute must. Light and refreshing in comparison, and a definite case of something tasting a lot better than it sounds. The atmosphere is lively, with big groups sitting around on tables equipped with lazy Susan’s, and dish after never ending dish appearing magically from the kitchen.

Lastly we stop by the esteemed Man Tong Kitchen at Melbourne’s Crown Casino for an absolutely exquisite buffet style meal. The food looked divine, and seconds later silence graced the room as everyone embraced the wonderful flavour sensations that they were now experiencing. Szechuan chilli duck in clay pots, deep fried prawns with salted egg yolk, and braised pork belly in special soy sauce were the definite favourites. The vegetarians were not left disappointed with salted fried tofu, and stir fried mushrooms bursting with flavour. Desert was supplied by Crux & Co, and I could literally write 20 paragraphs on the Caramel Tart alone with its layers of soft gooey heaven. The straight caramel layer on the bottom was a literal eyes closed melt in your mouth moment.

East

Address: 25 Little Collins St

Hu Tong Dumpling Bar

Address: 14-16 Market Ln, Melbourne

Man Tong Kitchen

Address: 8 Whiteman St, Southbank