We were speeding through Raffles City mall, on our way to another restaurant for lunch, when we passed by Mr. Dong Sea Urchin Dumplings and stopped in our tracks. Sea urchin dumplings? How interesting! The poster in front promised dumplings with a golden, liquid filling. My colleague and I looked at each other and instantly decided to ditch our previous plans and have lunch here instead.
We quickly went in and ordered the Sea Urchin Dumplings (58RMB), Black Truffle Pork Dumplings (58RMB), Preserved Vegetable Pork Dumplings (36RMB) and a couple of side dishes. We went out front to watch the cooks prepare our order through the big window, making little pleats and pinches to form dainty parcels.
Back at our table, the Sea Urchin Dumplings soon arrived and we got to eating. Well, yes you can taste the sea urchin mixed in the pork filling, but the texture was dry and crumbly, not at all like the luscious filling in the poster.
The Black Truffle Dumplings (58RMB) were also dry and grainy. We only ate one dumpling each and that was enough. The one time I had black truffles in a dumpling form, it was made with Spanish Iberico ham and very thin wonton wrappers. That wonton worked because the Iberico ham was so fragrant, rich and sweet. The pork that Mr. Dong uses is far from that level. The dumpling skin also didn’t help, being thick and gummy. When you have luxury ingredients like sea urchin and black truffles, you need a thin, delicate wrapper too. We paid 372RMB in the end for what we had, you may as well go to Din Tai Fung to eat their consistently superb xiaolongbaos.
The one redeeming dish was the Preserved Vegetable Pork Dumplings. The preserved vegetables had a crunchy texture and the meat filling was actually juicy. But you wouldn’t come to a place like this and pay 36RMB for merely passable dumplings would you?
There are 5 locations of Mr. Dong around Hangzhou, including 2 at Hangzhou Tower, which we were told often has line-ups running out the door. Go figure. In any case, if you ever come upon a Mr. Dong and are tempted to go in, don’t. We visited this restaurant and consumed the calories so that you don’t have to.