Assorted yum cha dishes and pots of tea at Silks.
Photograph: Supplied / Silks

The best yum cha in Melbourne

Is there anything better than yum cha? Gather your mates, we've got your weekend feasting plans sorted

Jade SolomonLauren Dinse
Contributor: Lauren Dinse
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Barbecue pork buns, xiao long bao, spring rolls, chicken feet, har gow, siu mai, salt and pepper squid, custard egg tarts and sesame balls. These are just a few of the signature dishes you can find at any good yum cha restaurant. We've rounded up our favourite trolley spots in Melbourne, so you can feast on endless steamed, fried and roasted plates, all while washing it down with plenty of tea (or wine – we don't discriminate). 

Want more dumplings? Check out the best dumpling restaurants in Melbourne. After more brunch? Check out the best cafès in Melbourne. We've also rounded up our favourite spots for bubble tea that hits the spot.

The best yum cha in Melbourne

  • Chinese
  • Melbourne

Secret Kitchen is recognisable by its curved fish tank on the corner of Little Bourke and Exhibition Streets, signifying that it specialises in seafood. But don't worry, it doesn't slouch in the yum cha department either. Secret Kitchen falls under the China Bar umbrella, and this two-storey Cantonese restaurant is the place to go when you’re in the mood for a big feed. Be sure to book in advance for a weekend sesh or risk being turned away as this is the go-to spot for many yum cha devotees.

 

  • Burwood East

As part of the Gold Leaf restaurant group, this Burwood branch is a safe haven for dim sum chasers who want efficient service and quality food in a spacious, family-friendly setting. You'll find all the classic dishes here – har gow, sui mai, chicken feet – and you can't go wrong with a mango pudding drizzled with condensed milk for dessert.

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  • Chinese
  • Prahran

David Zhou’s aesthetically pleasing Chinese restaurant offers Shanghainese yum cha. Expect platefuls of dumplings, spring rolls, pork and prawn siu mai, veggie fried rice and pork buns. Sweet treats come in the form of banana fritters or white chocolate dumplings, and there is an extensive selection of tea and wine. And did we mention it was unlimited? It's a good idea to wear your stretchy pants. With a vegan yum cha menu also on offer, this is a great spot for anyone with dietary needs.

Out in Huntingdale, small family-run restaurant Chef Wong is serving up one of the finest yum cha feasts you can enjoy in the state. With over 40 years of experience in preparing authentic Cantonese food, Chef Wong makes everything from scratch and you can even get a bag of his tasty creations for takeaway or order them online. You'll spot all your favourites on the menu, from pork siu mai to har gow and the crowd favourite, a fried beancurd prawn roll. The egg custard tarts are a must-order. 

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  • Chinese
  • Melbourne

This bustling first-floor Cantonese restaurant is normally packed for both lunch and dinner services due to demand for its seafood-forward dishes. Yum cha occurs daily, and alongside more traditional dishes there is wu gok (fried taro dumplings) stuffed with a creamy chicken filling rather than the usual pork gravy, and golden lava buns (steamed buns filled with a sweet-savoury runny salted egg yolk custard). Book on weekends or prepare to be herded like cattle among all the parked prams at the top of the stairs to wait for your window of opportunity.

  • Melbourne
Shark Fin Inn
Shark Fin Inn

The OG Shark Fin Inn has been serving up traditional Cantonese food to Melburnians since the '80s. It does a daily yum cha service that doesn't require a booking, but weekends will see lines of people snaking out onto Little Bourke Street, ready to be ushered to a table. The har gow is beautifully sweet and bitey, but the real winner has to be the ngau yuk cheung fun (steamed beef rice noodles) that are so silky you won't be able to resist slurping them up.

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Red Door is hidden down a side street in Windsor and offers a stellar yum cha with a particularly extensive selection of dumplings. Those who enjoy a seafood dumpling can expect the usual suspects such as har gow and siu mai, with some interesting additions such as lobster, prawn and scallop dumplings, plus mixed seafood with spinach. There are also many chicken dumplings on offer, ranging from the large chicken jiao zi to the minced chicken and peanut. And the options don't end there – sample duck, beef, pork and veggie dumplings, too. 

  • Templestowe Lower

You're going to have to make your way to Templestowe to get to Golden Dragon Palace, but the journey is worth it. Carved dragons, human-sized urns and a piano surround the pristine linen-covered tables here, making Golden Dragon Palace one of the more ornate Cantonese restaurants going around. Siu mai comes with an XO sauce, while the sweet suckling pig is all crispy skin and melting meat. This is the spot to try something different, as the seemingly endless amount of dishes available during the service provide an opportunity to sample more than just har gow and cheung fun. 

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  • Chinese
  • Melbourne
Oriental Tea House - Little Collins
Oriental Tea House - Little Collins

Owner by Melbourne hospo legend David Zhou, Oriental Tea House offers a modern take on the traditional yum cha experience pairing sophisticated teas with elevated share plates. There's no trolleys rolling around the sleek fit-out, but you'll discover plenty of authentic and great-tasting Chinese snacks and larger dishes on the menu, plus a sweeping range of more than 60 types of teas to choose from. Opt for black, white, green, oolong, fruit and herbal, and you can also take a box of your favourite to take home with you.

  • Chinese
  • Southbank
  • price 1 of 4
Red Emperor – Southbank
Red Emperor – Southbank

Red Emperor has been serving yum cha for several decades now, with all menu items made in-house to ensure freshness. You'll find all the yum cha favourites here, such as san choy bow, prawn spring rolls, Peking duck and pork belly. And make sure you save a little room for the housemade almond cookies.

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  • Chinese
  • Southbank
  • price 2 of 4

Searching for a yum cha restaurant with a bit more pizzazz? Crown Melbourne’s upmarket Chinese restaurant has launched a weekday yum cha special. For $78, you get an all-you-can-eat dim sum feast full of classic dishes like prawn and chive dumplings, black truffle bean curd skin rolls, char siu pork puffs, chicken and century egg congee, and traditional red bean pudding. The full menu features 25 dishes, and you can enjoy as much as you like over the sitting. 

  • Global
  • St Kilda
  • price 2 of 4
Mya Tiger
Mya Tiger

The revamped Espy isn't short on new surprises for those who've left it a while since their last visit, but Mya Tiger happens to be our favourite. The first-floor restaurant boasts glorious vistas of the pier and bay, plus a funky range of cocktail tea pots and creatively plated Cantonese dishes to share with friends. Every Sunday, there's a fun yum cha set menu experience, where you can get a selection of starters and your choice of 6 menu items at just $60 a head. This may not be your traditional yum cha experience but it's boozy, bold and beautifully located on summer days when Saint Kilda's the place to be.

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  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

Tim Ho Wan's barbecue pork buns are worth the wait, no matter how long. These sweet-savoury, lard- and sugar-crusted buns are baked rather than steamed, and the featherweight pastry filled with a jammy barbecue pork interior makes good sense with the dusting of sweetness. More traditional dumplings come in the form of impressively translucent casings that contain a wealth of garlicky spinach and shrimp meat. The pan-fried turnip cake is a crowd-pleaser, as are the various variations of vermicelli rolls.

Check out more of what Melbourne has to offer

Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Melbourne's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, that is. So behold, our eat-and-destroy list – a guide to Melbourne's 50 best restaurants.

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