Image credit: Anita Wilhelm
David Chang’s steamed pork buns might have been knocked-off and echoed throughout the foodie world, but Old Town offers one of the best interpretations this side of New York. In this case you can order a pork or duck version ($8 for two), both of which are balanced with sweet hoisin and wrapped in some of the softest mantou (steamed Chinese bread) around.
Located down the glitzier end of Dixon Street (and by glitzier we mean less things in tanks and fewer small Asian ladies spruiking their fare), Sydney Chinese restaurant, Old Town is about as hipster as it gets in Haymarket. This is mostly evidenced by the kinds of people crowded around each table in the split-level dining room. Everyone is young, well-dressed and orders confidently from the image-heavy menu as though they’re well-versed in the difference between Cantonese-style bayou and Taiwanese oyster omelette.
The dining space, too, is decidedly modern, with a combination of exposed brick, wood and bright disco lights. Sure, there’s still roasted ducks hanging behind the glass in the open kitchen, but nostalgia goes out the window when we set eyes on the shiny steel elevator transporting guest to the level above.
Like the city itself, Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine is a melting pot of regional Chinese dishes and, like their take on the Momofuku classic, everything is rather tasty.
Aside from the buns, the pan fired pork dumplings in birds nest is a nice little gathering of juicy dumplings delicately arranged under a crispy egg net. The whole dish strikes a great textural balance between the chewy dumplings and crunchy net.
The Peking duck is also worth a look-in. Roasted on the premises, it comes in several incarnations—served in pieces with crispy skin that hides the juicy flesh within, inside the famous buns, as san choy bau, in a hot pot and even as a special congee.
There’s also a range of staple Chinese dishes that, despite a ten-page menu filled with interesting fare, you won’t be able to stay away from. The green beans with pork mince are a must-have, as is the sticky shredded beef with sliced orange. If you’re only going to try one ‘out there’ kinda dish, make it the wine poached trotter–a fragrant bowl rich in star anise, ginger, soy and five spice with meat that falls away as soon as it’s touched.
Although it often feels odd to consume wine with Chinese food, Old Town is BYO. Given that Riesling goes rather well with steamed pork buns and man cannot live by bread alone, it seems like good sense to grab a bottle and make it a party.