The best Chinese dumpling restaurants
Go on. Count them. Din Tai Fung promises that every xiao long bao soup dumpling is enclosed with a least 18 folds. The military precision extends to digital scales in the open kitchen with a mandate that each dumpling pastry must weigh between 4.8 grams and 5.2 grams. After adding the filling, each dumpling must weigh between 20.8 grams and 21.2 grams. This dependable consistency has attracted a legion of dumpling fans. Little wonder this Taiwanese chain has expanded all over Sydney. Expect gossamer thin dumpling skins and gently sweetened pork and seafood fillings. For maximum fun, order the dumpling gems, a steamer of rainbow-coloured dumplings with fillings that include Bolognese, corn and cheese.
Be dazzled by a dumpling menu that offers 32 different fillings at this suburban eatery. They’ve got every imaginable dumpling filling covered, including pork with fennel fronds, chicken with chive, beef with carrot, lamb with leek, and fish with coriander. The pork with eggplant is a house specialty. Vegetarians can revel in five choices, including Chinese green vegetables with mushroom and tofu and a very tasty tomato and egg combo that’s just like an omelette. Get them boiled or pan-fried and happily you can choose up to two dumpling flavours per serve – it's the half anf half pizza of the dumpling world. If indecision paralysis strikes, just point to the first option and get 20 assorted dumplings on a plate. Sorted.
When this Hong Kong Michelin-starred dumpling house first opened in Chatswood the queues were insane. Thankfully wait times are less hectic these days, with four outlets now open in Sydney. All day (and night) yum cha includes classic har gow prawn dumplings, steamed scallop and prawn dumplings, and siu mai pork dumplings with prawn. Don't forget the spinach and prawn dumplings in semi-translucent tapioca skins either. The signature baked bbq pork buns don’t qualify as dumplings but you’ll want to order them anyway. The saucy and sweet pork inside a soft bun topped with a buttery sugar crust is a magical combination. A pictorial menu that doubles as a placemat makes ordering for the uninitiated super easy.
New Shanghai has branches across Sydney but Lemon Grove is our favourite, tucked away in the bowels of a dowdy shopping centre. Shorter queues are also a bonus. Xiao long bao soup dumplings are an essential order here. The thin pleated skins are filled with pork or a pork and crab meat combo, plus a mouth-burning puddle of sweet soup in each one. For something different, try the shepherd’s purse and pork wontons that come drenched in peanut sesame sauce and chilli oil with the cool crunch of cucumber strips. A view into the glassed-in dumpling kitchen and its nimble fingered dumpling folders makes mesmerising dinner theatre.
Load up on dumplings for the price of a song at this bustling noodle and dumpling joint. BYO is a bonus. Get ‘em steamed or fried in serves of 12. If you really want to maximise your value, ordering them boiled will score you 16 dumplings for the same price. They do half serves too if you’re only after a snack or hate to choose. These are Northern Chinese dumplings so they have a slightly thicker skin, ideal for encasing meaty fillings of pork, chicken or lamb. Vegetarians have the choice of egg and chives or a braised eggplant filling. Join the crowd inside the tiny dining room, or dine al fresco under the shade of outdoor umbrellas.
We guarantee you’ll be fighting over the lacy crunchy bits of the pan-fried dumplings here. These guys serve them old school, fried in a cluster with extra starch so they emerge from the pan joined in one giant, glorious skirt. Chicken and sweet corn dumplings are our pick of the bunch but they also offer pork and cabbage, pork and chives, beef, lamb, seafood, vegetarian, and egg and chives. Living clean? They can also be steamed or boiled, and gluten-free dumplings are also available. Expect squishy seating at this hole-in-the-wall dumpling house - it’s so tiny the kitchen is hidden down a steep set of stairs. Arrive early to nab a stool at one of the relatively spacious tables on the footpath.
By night it’s Cantonese a la carte but by day it’s yum cha carts ahoy at this Chinese restaurant hidden at the top of Piccadilly Tower. Palace churns out all the classics, bustled about by enthusiastic cart pushers who’ll happily lift every bamboo steamer for you to inspect its contents. Make room for har gow prawn dumplings, siu mai pork dumplings and gao choy gow garlic chive and prawn dumplings as well as the ham soi gok combination dumplings – deep-fried footballs filled with minced pork and mushroom. Keep an eye out for roving specials like the mini pumpkin dessert dumplings, which involve glutinous rice dough stuffed with custard and deep-fried until sticky, crisp and chewy.
The Liverpool Road stretch of Ashfield is littered with dumpling houses these days, but Shanghai Night was arguably the first. Back then, staff would make dumplings at one of the back tables in the dining room; now they’re stationed within a modern glassed-in kitchen with fancy laminated menus to boot. They’re still serving up some of Sydney’s cheapest xiao long bao soup dumplings at $7.80 for eight. But wait. There’s more. Steamed and fried dumplings arrive in hearty portions of 12 for the small serve, 18 for a large. Aside from the usual pork chicken, beef and lamb variations, fish and shallot dumplings are particularly tasty. Vegetarians score a steamed dumpling filling of mushroom, carrot, tomato and vermicelli.
Dry your tears. Vegan yum cha does exist. This Chinese vegetarian restaurant churns out all your yum cha favourites, substituting meat and seafood with variations of mushroom, tofu and fried gluten. Tick your requirements on the order sheet and the kitchen will whisk out freshly steamed bamboo baskets of har gow "prawn" dumplings, siu mai "pork" dumplings and vegetable dumplings with carrot and mushroom. Even bbq "pork" buns get a run. Relax. Any mention of meat on the menu refers to mock meat, many of which look and feel just like the real thing. Be prepared to have your mind blown.
Despite a chaotic and understaffed dining floor, punters still queue out the door for north east Chinese fare at this cheap-as-chips restaurant. Dumplings make up only a small section of the massive menu here but they’re a winner. You’ll net 16 petite bundles priced the same whether you choose them boiled or pan-fried. Be warned: It’s pork only territory here. Go subtle with pork and cabbage or relish the sweetness of prawn in the pork and seafood dumplings. Pork and celery pan-fried dumplings have a subtle crunch. Do order a serve of hot spicy sauce boiled dumplings – we reckon the pork and pickled Chinese cabbage works brilliantly with the red lake of chilli oil.