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Food at Lanzhou Beef Noodle
Photograph: Graham Denholm

The best Chinese restaurants in Melbourne

Craving spicy Sichuan or all-you-can-eat dumplings? Chopsticks at the ready: here are some of Melbourne's finest Chinese joints

By Time Out editors
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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.

If all you want are dumplings, we've rounded-up the best places to eat dumplings. Feel like sushi? Here are the best Japanese restaurants in Melbourne. Or if you're dining solo why not check out these ace spots for hot-pot-for-one.

Best Chinese restaurants in Melbourne

1. Flower Drum

Restaurants Chinese Melbourne

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.

2. Lee Ho Fook

Restaurants Melbourne

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.

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3. Dainty Sichuan Food: South Yarra

Restaurants South Yarra

At this South Yarra treasure, the chilli is hot and the Sichuan pepper is tinglingly, numbingly fresh. And while none of the food is what you’d call dainty, it’s certainly way up there with the best Sichuan we’ve ever had the pleasure of burning our mouths on. It’s cheap, too. Head upstairs for a hotpot or stay in the sunny downstairs dining room for thin slices of pancetta-like Chinese-style cured pork belly.

4. Super Ling

Restaurants Chinese Carlton

This restaurant is emblematic of the strengths of Melbourne dining, circa 2018. The formula: take one lesser-known cuisine (here, the branch of Chinese food known as Hakka), add a dash of gastronomic wit and serve it in a room of pared-back simplicity. A tight 30-seater rocking the bling of Bruce Lee posters where the mapo tofu jaffle is a must order.

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5. New Shanghai

Restaurants Melbourne

Emporium’s lofty third-floor food court is the home of many fashionable food establishments, and New Shanghai is no exception. Hit the slippery, pork-filled ‘shepherd’s purse’ wontons with chilli oil and a dribble of peanut butter for a modern spin on classic flavours.

6. Din Tai Fung

Restaurants Melbourne

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.

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7. Lanzhou Beef Noodle

Restaurants Chinese Melbourne

Be sure to have your order ready when you make it to the counter or you’ll stuff up the well-oiled efficiency of the venue in 10 seconds flat. Menus are plastered to the front window so you can choose between braised beef noodles, spicy noodles, pickled cabbage noodles or dry noodles before you impulse-shop for snacks. 

8. Tina's Noodle Kitchen

Restaurants Melbourne

Part of the Dainty Sichuan group, this noodle kitchen does not shy away from the spice. So get your glass of cold milk ready, and prepare yourself for some delicious chilli heat. Famous for their fried chicken and Tina's specialty noodle soups, the lunch time queues indicate it’s well worth the wait.

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9. HuTong

Restaurants Melbourne

Pull on your loosest pair of pants and prepare yourself for a ridiculous amount of dumplings. Order up a round of soup dumplings, and if you still want more, follow them with some steamed, gelatinous pork belly.

10. ShanDong MaMa

Restaurants Melbourne

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.

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11. Hi Chong Qing

Restaurants Chinese Carlton

Chongqing is famous for two things – hotpot and noodles. And here on the short-but-sweet menu of five noodle dishes is where you'll find some of Melbourne's best – fresh and springy wheat flour noodles, a mouth-numbing broth due to the inclusion of Sichuan peppercorns, and toppings ranging from intestines to pork feet.

12. Shaanxi-Style Restaurant

Restaurants Box Hill

The extensive menu has been translated (in some parts, poorly) but if you approach the items with a lucky-dip mentality, you won’t be disappointed. There is no dud dish, but there is meat lurking around in dishes you expect to be vegetarian like the chive dumplings. Plump, shallow-fried, cheek-sized pastries stuffed full of chopped garlic chives, bean thread noodles and omelette also contain pops of ground pork.

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noodles at Nong Tang Noodle House
Photograph: Graham Denholm

13. Nong Tang Noodle House

Restaurants Chinese Melbourne

You can’t visit Nong Tang without trying the traditional dry noodles with spring onion and sesame oil, otherwise known as yang chun noodles (also available in a soup). The thin, delicate handmade noodles, crafted from three different kinds of flour, sit in a pool of soy sauce and sesame oil with deep-fried and fresh spring onion scattered on top. 

14. Tim Ho Wan

Restaurants Melbourne

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). 

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15. Supper Inn Chinese Restaurant

Restaurants Melbourne

It’s been a while. Maybe 35 years. Maybe 36. Maybe more. The exact figure is lost to the mists of time. When it comes to putting a date on Supper Inn, let’s just say it threw open its doors around the time when Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister, which means it’s reached the restaurant year equivalent of the Qing dynasty.

16. Camy Shanghai

Restaurants Melbourne

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.

This way for late night eats

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