Remember the bad old days when Chinese food meant lemon chicken doused in an iridescent yellow sauce? My goodness we’ve come a long way since then. Many of us know our har gaos from our siu mais and dried egg noodles have become a pantry staple. Here’s a list of places to go to (both casual and fancy) if you don’t fancy wokking something up at home.
Genuine home-style Shandong cuisine doesn't get better than at this little shopping centre dumpling den. The family restaurant is producing food with crazy freshness and flavour. Try the fish dumplings; a loose mince of oily mackerel, fragrant with ginger, coriander root and chives.
Chinatown's old faithful sees a steady stream of customers lining Tattersall’s Lane every night, and for good reason. Offering the cheapest, fastest meals you’re likely to find in Melbourne, the famed $12 'Eat all you can eat' menu is incredibly popular. In fact, 'Eat all you can eat' is more or less an order.
Unwavering attention to detail has ensured this high-end Cantonese restaurant has stood the test of time. Traditional Cantonese food is meticulously prepared and wheeled to the table on trolleys. Peking duck is prepared at the table with a few quick manoeuvres by expert waiters. It’s practically performance art as you dine.
The dumplings at Din Tai Fung are made in the lab-like, glass-walled space, cunningly designed to turn the entire restaurant’s worth of diners into Pavlov’s dogs. The signature xiao long bao, the steamed soup dumplings pleated to a perfect 18-fold pucker are the Platonic ideal of the XLB, all soupy explosion, non-gristly pork filling, and the non-negotiable ginger slivers and slosh of black vinegar. They’re so good the truffle versions with a sliver of the good stuff are almost redundant.
Head to the city where head chef Victor Liong is creating some truly modern cuisine that is sure to impress. Unbridled enthusiasm from the kitchen sees traditional dishes updated, like the Lee Ho Fook spring onion 'Chinizza': a fried pizza done shallot pancake-style, with buffalo mozzerella.
The Supper Inn has been providing Melbourne revellers with cheap and delicious Chinese food at all hours for the past 20 years. Not much has changed over the years, and for that, we’ll always remain loyal and head straight to the Supper Inn when we’ve got the late night munchies.
Sure, this Tim Ho Wan isn' the one with the Michelin star (that honour belongs to the Hong Kong original), but do go for the justifiably renowned barbecue pork buns – they’re really very good. They’re baked rather than steamed, and the featherweight pastry makes good sense with the dusting of sweetness. More traditional dumplings come in the form of the arrestingly translucent casings containing a wealth of garlicky spinach and some shyly hiding shrimp meat (we say nix the prawn and give it to the vegetarians).
Andrew McConnell's Ricky and Pinky It’s a gaudy take on the Box Hill Canto barns of the 1970s. The winning thing about Ricky and Pinky is that despite its slightly tongue-in-cheek approach it really feels like a Chinese restaurant, complete with kids and family groups twirling the soy sauce to each other over the lazy Susan.