Hectic Hutong Dumpling Bar is probably the hottest joint in Chinatown right now, with strong word of mouth and a glowing review in The Age. Plus, no one can afford to eat at its neighbour Flower Drum anymore (as evidenced by rumours of financial problems at the esteemed establishment).

We tried to get in at 6:30pm on a Thursday night, only to be told there would be a long wait. Second attempt on a Friday night was more successful, because the secret is that they actually take bookings – so no need to line up in the frozen laneway.

The wait was worth it. My tip for deciphering the menu is to follow the advice of the waiter who told me in Chinese to “just order from the first page”, which is basically all dumplings. They’re justifiable famous for their xiao long bao – little pouches of delicate dumpling skin housing meat and hot broth. I also recommend their chilli dumplings for a contrast in flavour. As you slurp down your food, you can watch the controlled chaos of dumpling-making activity through the steaming glass window and be assured that everything is made fresh.

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