Yulongfu, Bourke Street, Melbourne

Eat, Melbourne / 13 July 2021

With family recipes perfected over a century, and a very Melbourne Black Truffle Xiaolongbao taking centre stage, Yulongfu is the must-visit dumpling spot to add to your list.

It’s no secret that black is the dress code in Melbourne. Head down to Collins Street in rush hour, or hit up Brunswick street on a Friday night, and you’ll find plenty of evidence that Melburnians love a monochrome aesthetic. And in a city with dining at its heart, it’s no surprise that our love of stylish darkness extends to the plate in Yulongfu’s Black Truffle Xiaolongbao.

The husband and wife team behind Yulongfu, Yong and Emily Liu, definitely know their audience with their crowd-pleasing black truffle xiaolongbao. Glossy, perfectly pleated, and a deep jet black, the black truffle xiaolongbao may be the stars of the show, but the rest of Yulongfu’s menu is just as delicious and artfully made.

Hailing from Shanghai, where they owned and managed restaurants before coming to Australia, the Lius bring not only their own extensive experience to the table but also over a century of shared knowledge through the recipes they’ve pulled from their family archives, dating back to 1904. Perfected over the last century, and unique to Yong and Emily’s families, the dishes on offer at Yulongfu are delicious, skillfully prepared, and pay respect to their Shanghainese roots. The precision and attention to detail is on display – literally – with Yong taking the helm in Yulongfu’s kitchen, preparing dumplings in front of eager diners on the restaurant’s display stage.
And precision it is. Yong expertly folds 16 pleats to pinch shut each of the delicate black truffle xiaolongbaos in the perfect fusion of form and function. This specificity of pleat allows the tip of the dumpling to be exactly the right consistency – not too thin, not too thick – to securely but delicately encase the rich and luscious soupy goodness and tender pork ball as it’s steamed to perfection and then shovelled into waiting mouths.

You’ll also find plenty of other favourites on the menu at Yulongfu such as pan-fried buns and wontons alongside inspired traditional Chinese dishes with an Aussie flair like Shanghai-style sweet and sour barramundi, and retro Chinese restaurant classics like drunken chicken marinated in Chinese wine, sweet and sour pork, and plenty more.

The atmosphere at Yulongfu is chilled, and this is definitely not your usual eat, pay, and leave diner-style dining. The Lius want Yulongfu to be the sort of place where you can eat great food and have a good conversation in a relaxed environment. With comfy padded seats, a muted colour palette, and an easy-going vibe, Yulongfu is the perfect place to settle in for a long dinner sampling Shanghainese cuisine with your nearest and dearest.

When we visited, we obviously had to get our hands on the black truffle xiaolongbao, and we were not disappointed. As black as ink, these little goth goodies were absolutely delicious. As soon as Emily lifted the lid of the bamboo steamer, the rich and complex aroma of the truffles wafted out, making our mouths water. The moreish mouthful of flavourful broth and perfectly tender pork was an absolute delight, and we demolished the dumplings in no time at all. These are a definite must-try.

Yulongfu’s Bourke Street restaurant is perfectly placed right in the heart of the CBD, and is definitely worth checking out next time you visit the city.

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