Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mr Huang Jin

This blog has been the topic of several conversations over the past few weeks, including a not-so-subtle hint from my manager suggesting I take leave to write! I guess it's a timely reminder that I should get my act together and start doing something productive with the backlog of photos on my phone.

So let's talk food.

Mr Huang Jin is a modern take on Chinese/Taiwanese/Cantonese street food, with the occasional twist of South East Asia (for example, the laksa themed xiao long bao). Located on the ground floor of the Rialto building, the restaurant is clean, elegant and a complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of the night markets that traditionally sport a number of these dishes. 

Taiwanese fried chicken (TFC) w/ sweet chilli mayonnaise
One of the things I miss most about Taiwan is the street food, so seeing a list of 'Taiwanese tapas' on the menu is automatically a hit for me. Just like the Taiwanese fried chicken, which has a crispy, perfectly seasoned coating. The chicken itself is still juicy and tender. Paired with a tangy sweet chilli mayo, this chicken trumps popcorn chicken any day!

steamed pork xiao long bao
Up until I tried this place, Hutong was the only restaurant in Melbourne that really nailed the xiao long bao for me. These delicately wrapped Shanghainese dumplings match, if not surpass, the good old XLB of Hutong. The wrappy is thin but robust enough to hold in the soupy deliciousness that is required in any good XLB. Just one word of warning - handle with care, because you don't want it to explode and free the soup before you put it in your mouth.

prawn & pork wontons w/ chilli sauce
Now for a hit of spicy Sichuan goodness. Traditional wontons plump with chopped prawns and pork mince sit atop a numbing soy chilli oil concoction. Some crisp lettuce and sprigs of coriander scattered around the wontons provides a contrasting 'cooling' element in typical Chinese yin and yang style cooking. 

fried tofu balls
Another fried dish - this time, soft balls of silken tofu are crumbed and then deep fried. Crispy on the outside, melt in the mouth tofu on the inside. On their own, the tofu seems to lack flavour, but when eaten with the sweet and sour sauce on the side, or even just a squeeze of lemon, the dish comes together nicely. And, the balls are served with miniature skewers to prevent any potential for embarrassing chopstick mishaps. 

It's a bit of a walk from Docklands, but it's well worth the trek (so worth it, I've had two work lunches out there in the past month). 

The service is polite and not your typical Chinese dumpling joint. Have a big crowd? No worries, you can pre-order so that the dishes start coming out on your arrival, making it ideal for a quick work lunch.

Also worth a mention is the existence of gluten free versions of their dishes. Both the Taiwanese fried chicken and the tofu balls were ordered as gluten free and tasted no different to the non-gluten free versions on my second visit. It's rare to find an Asian restaurant that is so accommodating and yet still so reasonably priced. 

Overall Impression: 9/10

Mr Huang Jin on Urbanspoon

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