HuTong Dumpling Bar

mainEach dumpling experience I’ve had ends up being a night of adventure and mystery, and this is no different. This is a night I like to refer to as “the Trophy night”

I look at my phone and I see that its 7:13 pm and panic sets in, we’ve been lost in conversation and beer for too long. My friends gingerly finish their drinks as they see me rush them, I quickly call the restaurant to let them know we’re running late, I couldn’t bare the disappointment if we missed out on a table. The staff are always friendly and accommodating in Prahran, a little different to their sister Dumplings Bar in the city which is always hard to get a table.
Like herding sheep with a potato gun I manage to get my friends across to Hu Tong’s, it had been a big week for everyone and the weekend wind up was well in action. My friends hand control of the menu to me, which suits me just fine because I already know what to order.Chilli Wontons

Words can not express the love I have for dumplings… tiny parcels of meat, herbs and veggies that come together in such an awe inspiring way that has me drooling over my keyboard as I type, I’m sure there is a work safe message in there some where…

Soon the table is filled with platters and steam baskets with a culinary array of flavours.
Wontons with Hot Chilli Sauce, Deep-fried Prawn in dry bean curd pastry, Pan fried dumplings, Pork dumplings, Peeking Duck dumpling, Spicy Chicken ribs and my personal favourite Shao-long Bao. It had been a heavy night of drinking to kick off the weekend already so we had a couple of gluttonous rounds of engorging ourselves with these delectable delights. These traditional styled dumpling which span from province to province across china makes the taste and flavours almost seem like a food journey in itself spanning from dumplings from the North, East and South China

Shaolongbao

The food was winding down but the drinks continued to flow like an ocean, the only thing left on the table was a bed of dried chillies that adorned the chicken ribs we had destroyed earlier. Boys being boys and slightly intoxicated ones at that, an eating challenge was set to eat a tablespoon of the atomic chilli that laid in front of us like a smouldering pit of lava. The deal was set, the first to eat the spoon of death would have the evening graciously sponsored by the rest, and was to be awarded a trophy proudly named “the Danny LaRusso Sweep the leg appreciation award”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Danny LaRusso he is the original Karate Kid…

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I also offered a side deal to another friend to pay for him to only have half a teaspoon of chilli knowing that his chilli tolerance of a zinger burger from KFC is too hot. He leaped at the deal and spent a good few minutes trying to get the paper like consistency down only to be hit with a burn that had him finish every drink on the table and leap across 6 guys to run next door to the convenient store and smash a 2L bottle of Chocolate Big M. But that wasn’t the original challenge so he didn’t win the already elusive trophy.
Perhaps it was several beers I had consumed, or maybe it was the knowledge that I already had to pay for 2 meals but I sure as hell wanted that trophy!
I took on the spirit of Danny LaRusso and with the soundtrack of “you’re the best around” playing in my head in what could only resemble an 80’s montage I took on the spoon… the dried chilli had a way of sucking up every last bit of moisture in your mouth, making watering it down a waste of time, and chewing was not an option so like a Seagull devouring a chip that is far to big I began to let it slide down my gullet. the heat and pain was well worth it to walk away with the factitious trophy but I like to imagine it looks something like this…

ImageBe sure to wax on, wax off your way to HuTong Dumpling Bar and you to could earn your very own “All Valley Karate Championship” trophy… Sweep the leg Johnny!

The Meatball & Wine Bar

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Now to share another favourite of mine… it all started on a summers night while a friend and I decided to go check out Chin Chin, the wait was over an hour for a table but I felt we had to persevere for this culinary delight. So we went in search of drinks to help pass the time and only a few doors down we came across this funky busy little bar which so happened to be their opening night, the decor is dark and grainy, with exposed bricks, built in archways around the bar to really shows the buildings history and character.

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Upon stumbling on the menu, nobody should be surprised to find a large array of meatballs and meatball options but what did throw me was they also have home made jerky in different variations from the Samboy (Salt & Vinegar) Ninja (Teriyaki) San Diego (Chilli)… Never having experienced jerky before and the only description that had come to mind was that of a taxi driver sitting on some meat for a month i wasn’t so eager to try it. But I’m so glad i did, I was surprised how tasty it was, not leathery, and quite easy to chew. It really was tasty dried meat!

But that’s not why we’re here, its the all mighty Meatball, and this restaurant really knows who they are. The menu is fun, you choose your balls, and what your balls want to sit on. they will do any combination you request. But because we already had dinner plans we settled for just a sampler. A board quickly arrived with 3 beef sliders with red sauce on a brioche bun… it was a total mouthgasm!

I’ve now been so many times that its now just become a regular thing. Now i had read that they were opening a second restaurant in Richmond and didn’t think anything much of it until i was stumbling around Richmond after a few drinks, and knew exactly what i had to do.Reluctantly we all to soon left for chin chins, only to be haunted by these amazing sliders, so much that i had to return the very next night.

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Their new venture is lighter inside, very clean and chic, staff were amazing and accommodating even when they were pushed to capacity. A quick look at the specials board and not even taking in what it was i had to have it. Game of Thrones inspired Meatballs “Winter is coming”… it totally beat all expectations

Surely this would have been the final meal for Robb Stark at the red wedding, Wild Boar & Feasting Duck with Red Ox Sauce on Smash of potatoes and peas, with Long Rib and Red Wine. The only let down was that the wine was served in a glass and not a horn tankard.

But savoury dishes isn’t the only thing they do well here, One does not just go to Meatball, with out experiencing the Woopie-Mac. Simply its ice cream sandwiched between 2 cookies and with 5 ice creams, and 5 cookies to choose from you are only limited by your imagination.

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This is definitely not a share option, if you can resist only a bite of these then your will power is far greater than mine, and i look forward to serving you while you sit on the iron throne… These will bring even the cheese platter people to their knees.
And what’s just as amazing is that they also do breakfast balls, and a full take away menu for when you want your balls on the run!

Check out The Meatball & Wine Bar on Flinders Lane and now on Swan St

Michael’s Sensually Sexy Chocolate Brownies

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The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy for me, burning the candles at both ends so have been unable to find much time for myself… In dire need of a massage and a holiday!

With all that said, what perks you up better than an unhealthy dose of sugar, chocolate and butter!

I remember the days when the Cookie Monster was a crack addicted cookie eater heating up cookie dough on a spoon to get his next fix, but today he’s on the straight and narrow and explains that cookies are now only a sometimes food. So I shouldn’t have to explain that this is not an everyday treat, a 1cm cube will need a week of gym work, or a weekend of vigorous bedroom antics… This chocolate brownie will break hearts! Both when you realise it’s all gone, and when the chocolaty goodness is clogging up those so valuable arteries.

This will make a HUGE slab, but what’s great about that is, if you have left overs… WHAT THE HELL IS LEFT OVER BROWNIE?!?!?!… you can freeze it down and with a few seconds in the microwave relive those moments of freshly baked brownies…

You will need;

MIXING BOWLS, preferably stainless steel for double boiler and to hold all the stuff
SAUCEPAN half filled with boiling water, big enough to sit a mixing bowl on without touching the water, if the water touches the bowl you risk over cooking the chocolate and it will go dry
WHISK to beat the crap out of your mixture
SPATULA to make sure you get every last drop into the tray, unless you want to relive your childhood and lick the bowl clean yourself
SCALE to weigh yourself post brownie or ingredients
BAKING TRAYS to hold your brownie and keep it warm
OVEN to cook stuff
A LONELY APPLE to laugh at while you wait for your brownie to cook!

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Other Stuff:

500g Butter
400g Chocolate
150g Cocoa Powder
150g Plain Flour
2tsp. Baking Powder
700g Caster Sugar
8 Eggs

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MELT Butter and chocolate over a double boiler
SHAKE Flour, cocoa, and baking powder through a sift
THROW All the dry ingredients into the melted chocolate mix and stir until smooth
BEAT Eggs into chocolate mixture
CARESS The baking tray with a spray of canola and line with baking paper
DRIZZLE Mixture into the tray
BANG IT in the oven

Now this is where baking gets hard, not all ovens are the same so cooking times will vary. Roughly between 10-25 mins @ 180°C, you want to be able to stick a skewer in and it NOT come out clean, but set enough that it won’t wobble if you shake it, also should spring back if you touch it… If you can perfect these 3 qualities in your brownies, I guarantee you will have a very fulfilling sexual love life!!!

Chef tip: Use a second baking tray upside down with baking paper and turn out the fresh from the oven brownies, then place the hot baking tray on top of the brownie right way up. This will ensure you get an even levelled brownie as it will compress it flat as it cools…

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If you haven’t already gone face first into molten tray of brownie in front of you, serve it up with fresh raspberries, and vanilla bean ice cream.