The best yum cha in Melbourne

Our favourite places to do battle with the trolley masters in charge of the almighty chilli, tea and dumplings combination
Photograph: Supplied
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Fluffy pork buns. Silky, thin tofu skin. Beef tendon. The sweetest prawn dumplings. Here is our definitive list of the best trolley spots in Melbourne, so bring your strongest hangovers, your friends with kids and your extended crew for a morning dumpling feast and gallons of tea.

Want more dim sum? Check out the best dumpling restaurants in Melbourne. Need to keep things cheap and cheerful? Try one of Melbourne's best eats under $20. After brunch? Check out the best breakfasts in Melbourne.

Best yum cha in Melbourne

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Restaurants

David's

icon-location-pin Prahran

David's does all-you-can-eat yum cha on weekends and you'll want to make sure that you can indeed eat as much of the generous yum cha as you can. Much of the dishes at David's are inspired by Shanghainese cuisine. The Peking duck pancakes are a dream and the scallop dumplings wonderfully silky. Don't hesitate to ask the trolley wielding ladies what they're hiding in the steam baskets.

Trolleys: Yes

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Secret Kitchen dumplings
Photograph: Supplied
Restaurants, Chinese

Secret Kitchen Chinatown

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Authentic Chinese cuisine, bonza CBD location, and fluffy pork buns fashioned to look like little pigs? Secret Kitchen is all that and then some. Falling under the China Bar umbrella, this modern eatery is the place to go when you’re in the mood for a big feed. They’ve hand-picked the best dishes from Beijing, Sichuan, Canton, Hong Kong and Mongolia and sprinkled some secret ancient recipes throughout to create delicacies you can really sink your teeth into. 

Trolleys: Yes

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Shark Fin Inn
Restaurants

Shark Fin Inn

icon-location-pin Melbourne

The "original" Shark Fin restaurant has been offering up authentic Chinese food to Melbourne's city-goers since the '80s. They do daily yum cha service in case you ever feel like a mid-week dumpling banquet. The har gao prawn dumplings are beautifully sweet and salty, but the real winner in our books is the Hong Kong-style ngao yuk cheong fun (steamed beef rice noodles) that are so thick and silky you can't resist slurping the soy sauce-soaked sheets.

Trolleys: Yes

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East Imperial Carlton
Restaurants

East Imperial Carlton

icon-location-pin Carlton

You might not expect to find great dumplings on upper Rathdowne Street, but you will. Come early to this elegant den if you want one of the downstairs tables and the trolley experience. They do a great version of the Peking duck, replete with glassy shards of crisp skin, and stout little prawn-stuffed eggplant rolls in blackbean sauce. You’re looking at a relaxed, refined experience where the waiters wear suits, so maybe save this one for when you know you’re not going to pour your chrysanthemum tea and chilli all over the linen tables, okay?

Trolleys: Yes

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Gold Leaf Yum Cha
Restaurants

Gold Leaf Yum Cha

icon-location-pin Docklands

Hauling a whole contingent of pals to Box Hill can defeat the purpose of an easy Saturday session. Do like Monkey Magic and journey but slightly into the west (the Docklands) for this huge, glittering palace of chandeliers, murals and fish tanks, where the trolleys pass at a cracking pace dispensing a big range of everything you want – including some angry attitude from the long-suffering guy stuck pushing the dessert trolley. The pork buns are fluffy, the chilli sauce is forthcoming and they couldn’t give a damn if you spill stuff or order a Coke. It’s our pick for fast furious hung cha.

Trolleys: Yes

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Golden Dragon Palace
Restaurants

Golden Dragon Palace

icon-location-pin Templestowe Lower

We’d go anywhere for a good mango pancake, includinh Templestowe. Carved dragons, a piano and man sized urns surround pristine linen covered tables, and the 100-odd dishes on the carts all have a little somethin’ somethin’ extra. Siu mai dumplings come with a spicy XO sauce, sweet suckling pig is all crisp skin and melting meat, while little mushrooms stuffed with scallop meat provide dumpling reprieve.

Trolleys: Yes

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Restaurants

HuTong

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Sure, HuTong is not strictly a yum cha restaurant, but that’s irrelevant. Start with the xiao long bao – the Shanghainese soup dumplings with their pork and soup filling deserve their reputation. Saddle up your spoon with threads of ginger and a slosh of black vinegar, nibble a hole and slurp away while trying to keep any spillage from ruining your own threads. Don't skip the wontons with chilli sauce with the trademark Szechuan sizzle and a nutty scattering of sesame seeds picking up on the rich slick of sesame oil. They’re the bomb, in every sense of the word.

Trolleys: No

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Restaurants

Spice Temple

icon-location-pin Southbank

Tea-smoked duck with mandarin pancakes; delicate noodles made sticky with fine smoky bacon and chilli – this is next-level yum cha, but chef Neil Perry doesn’t do things by halves. It’s table service only down in Spice Temple’s inky den, and a little more expensive, but his ginger-flecked prawn dumplings are the most delicate iteration of things in rice skins you’ll find and the wine list is everything you expect of the Rockpool empire. Try the housemade ginger soda if you’re abstaining, and don’t miss the little Guangxi pork buns – two bites of porky deliciousness.

Trolleys:
 No

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The Potsticker
Restaurants

The Potsticker

icon-location-pin Caulfield North

Malaysian and Chinese fare is their bread and butter, plus they do Yum Cha daily with a staggering 60 different dim sim. The menu won't break the bank and it's vegetarian and gluten free friendly so bring all your dietary restricted friends. They have a substantial wine list on offer, but if you want something from your own cellars BYO corkage is $8 per bottle.

Trolleys: No

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Plates of dumplings
Photograph: supplied
Restaurants, Chinese

Silks

icon-location-pin Southbank

Crown Melbourne’s upmarket Chinese restaurant has launched a weekday yum cha special. For a cool $50, you get three dimsum dishes (offerings include king crab crystal dumplings and scallop siu mai) plus a noodle or congee dish and a drink. It’s hardly cheap but the dim sum are finely made and plump with seafood - these aren’t the kind of dumplings you drown in vinegar and scoff down before the lunch hour’s up.

Trolleys: No

More Melbourne meals on the cheap

A close up shot of 8 dumplings in a bamboo steamer at Din Tai Fu
Photograph: Vince Caligiuri
Restaurants, Chinese

The best dumplings in Melbourne

Whoever coined the phrase "the best things come in small packages" had definitely just eaten a bowl of dumplings. Get yourself a tiny pocket of happiness at these great dumpling dens.

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