how many chinese restaurants in melbourne3

How Many Chinese Restaurants In Melbourne?

Australians have a tendency to oversimplify what is actually one of the world's oldest and most nuanced cuisines: Chinese. The Chinese cuisines most widely available in Melbourne are probably Cantonese and Sichuan. It's important to remember that these are only two of "the eight great cuisines" (the others are Jiangsu, Zhejian, Fujian, Hunan, Anhui and Shandong).

It's unusual to generalise about a country's cuisine from just a few places. While Chinese immigration to Australia dates back to the mid-19th century, it has only been in the last few years that we've seen dishes from some of China's lesser-known cuisines make an appearance in Melbourne.

Plus, they continue to live primarily in Chinese enclaves like Springvale and Box Hill.

The greatest xiao long bao, a fiery Sichuan hotpot, or a substantial stew with Middle Eastern influences (all of which are prevalent in China's far west) may all be found here.

FAQs About Melbourne

At the beginning of the 21st century, Chinese restaurants have been present in a significant majority of Australian cities and towns for over fifty years and in many places for over one hundred and fifty years. They emerged as commercial enterprises on the Victorian goldfields in 1854.

Your local Chinese restaurant isn't just a delicious place to eat. It's also a historical symbol of immigration and cultural diversity in Australia. ... “These cookhouses that the Chinese started provided gold miners with meals and catered for Chinese and European tastes,” O'Connell tells SBS.

Australians are increasingly open to eating food from around the world. The latest research into Australians’ preferred food cuisines shows a growing number of Australians saying they like to eat each of the country’s top ten favourite food cuisines.

Over 14.2 million Australians now like to eat Chinese cuisine (70%), up from 13.5 million four years ago. There have been particularly strong increases for Japanese cuisine to 8.5 million (up 1.6 million), Indian cuisine to 10.4 million (up 1.3 million), Middle Eastern cuisine to 5.7 million (up 1.2 million) and Mexican cuisine to over 9 million (up 1.2 million).

The Australian public started eating at Chinese restaurants from the 1930s or brought saucepans from home for takeaway meals. Chicken chow mein, chop suey and sweet and sour pork were the mainstays.

According to new data from the restaurant reviewing website Yelp, the share of Chinese restaurants in the top 20 metropolitan areas has been consistently falling. Five years ago, an average of 7.3 per cent of all restaurants in these areas were Chinese, compared with 6.5 per cent today.

 

Chinese restaurants to support in Melbourne this weekend

how many chinese restaurants in melbourne

Would you mind showing your support for our Chinese community by tucking into hot, steaming dumplings, slurping hand-pulled noodles and scoffing glazed BBQ duck? It’s tough work, but someone has to do it.  

David's

This bright, blonde wood eatery looks much younger than its 20 years. David Zhou has made a name for himself in Melbourne with the authentic rural Shanghainese cuisine served at his restaurant. Come on in for some unique dishes like Shanghai belt noodles doused in black vinegar and softshell river prawns. The unlimited yum cha is an unbelievable offer. Postal Address: Unit 4, Cecil Place, Prahran.

HuTong Dumpling Bar

Are wontons what I hear? The burns you could get on your chest from eating these pork-filled dumplings with their pale-yellow wrappers and scorching chilli oil are well worth it. Some of HuTong's competitors in Melbourne are also doing similar work. There are the northern-style spinach dumplings and the light crystal dumplings packed with prawn meat, all of which are deserving of your attention if you prefer something a little easier to transport from bowl to mouth. Melbourne, at Nos. 14-16 Market Lane.

Dainty Sichuan

A hub of fine Asian nosh, Dainty Sichuan, one of the oldest Chinese haunts in Melbourne. Unlike Chinese restaurants, Dainty has an immense and spacious interior—the entrance is dominated by a fountain. Chinese art is embedded in the walls, and you are dining with in-set hotplates on rounded tables. Dainty is known for chilli love, where the most popular pieces are generous hotpots and beef dishes, and they’re delicious. Get the best Chinese Melbourne at Dainty.

Some like it hot. The good folk of Sichuan in southwest China certainly do, inflaming their distinctive hotpots and stews with the smouldering burn of dried chillies, garlic, vinegar and peppercorns. Thankfully, the menu at Dainty Sichuan isn’t entirely incendiary. You’ll also find gentler fare from finely-pleated Chinese dumplings plump with pork to seasoned Sichuan duck with soft cold noodles. 176 Toorak Rd, South Yarra.

Flower Drum

With its perfectly unreconstructed décor and a cohort of staff as polished as the lustrous timber-work, the Drum could be mistaken for something frozen in time. But don’t be fooled. You can set your watch by the quality of its Cantonese classics – superb crisp-skinned chicken, Peking duck, served with care and outstanding crab. 17 Market Lane, Melbourne.

Din Tai Fung

Dumpling superstar Din Tai Fung can be found on the penthouse level of Emporium, which also features two of the greatest posts in the world. In 1974, Taiwanese black master Din Tai Fung opened his first restaurant, which would eventually become the inspiration for a chain that would eventually expand to a trillion locations across Asia, the United States, and Sydney. You could be forgiven for assuming he knows what he's doing. We also recommend the fried rice and pork buns.

While Din Tai Fung restaurants may be found in shopping centres worldwide, they offer so much more than just watered-down chain food. The precise dumplings are made like works of art – pleated 18 times, steamed for three minutes and delivered to your table piping hot. Order the spicy pork and prawn dumplings with a hit of ginger, and you’ll find yourself ordering another round in less than three minutes: level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne.

Wonderbao

What’s not to love about white, pillowy bao? Nothing, especially when the vegetarian options are as good as those for meat-eaters. Grab one filled with fried silken tofu, coriander and crushed peanuts, and your day will be complete. Did we mention they’re also a bargain at less than three bucks a bun? Shop 4 19-37 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne.

Spice Temple

Neil Perry’s dark and seductive den of Cantonese cooking still has plenty of fire in the belly, five years after it first opened. Spice is the M-O here, with chilli spiking seafood and meat in dishes from China’s many and varied regions. Fiery plates are helpfully marked on the menu in red, but there’s still much on offer for more delicate tastes. 

Ask for half serves to sample a greater spread of dishes and leave room for dessert, which may be as functional as it is flavoursome in the form of a soothing parfait ‘wagon wheel’ bursting with chilli-numbing caramel, chocolate and peanut. Crown Complex, Southbank.

Lee Ho Fook

Follow the red neon sign that shines like a beacon beckoning the hungry down this very Melbourne laneway landscape. The signature Xinjiang-style lamb shoulder is a feature dish for a good reason – chilli-spiked fatty meat that’s eaten with sumac-spiced fried Gugur bread is outrageously good. This is no cheap and cheerful canteen (especially once you factor in booze). Still, chef Victor Liong’s unapologetic cooking prods the boundaries of tradition for memorable Chinese food not as you know it. 11-15 Duckboard Place, Melbourne.

Tim Ho Wan

tim ho wan

It’s been called the “world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant”, and true to name, you can get away with paying just $20 for a decent feast of Hong Kong-style dim sum. The pork buns are the standout dish here, but beyond that, order the spring rolls filled with prawn and egg white mousse – crisp, light and utterly worthy of that Michelin star. 206 Bourke Street, Melbourne. 

Shandong MaMa

At first glance, not much about this hole-in-the-wall dumpling hut screams ‘smash hit’, whether it’s the unremarkable arcade setting or the simple presentation of the dishes. Chalk it up to the power of mackerel dumplings. There are other good things on the menu, but the mackerel is where it’s at, whipped to a mousse, shot through with coriander, ginger and chives, and offered boiled or potsticker-style crisped up on the bottom. Mid City, 7/200 Bourke St, Melbourne.

Simon’s Peking Duck 

Box Hill

Simon's Peking Duck is welcome at any of Melbourne's reputable Beijing Duck restaurants. Simon Lay, known as the "godfather of Chinese food in Melbourne," passed away at the beginning of 2017. His descendants continue to operate the company, however, so the duck is as secure as ever.

Here are two options for banquets, each featuring a whole tender duck served with handcrafted soft pancakes, crispy duck skin, new spring ointment, turmeric, and special sauce. Duck soup with curd bean and other food or noodles is served at no cost during banquets. It has some of Melbourne's finest Chinese cuisine.

Lau’s Family Kitchen

St Kilda

Lau’s Family Kitchen is a family-run Chinese restaurant in the heart of Saint Kilda, a favourite of many. Located in Bang on Port Phillip Bay (which we believe is an unusual occurrence for Chinese restaurants). 

The indoors are just as relishable, with lovely wood panelling and high decks that offer a lot of serious design porn. All this fantasy comes at a price — reservations are strongly recommended to savour the best Chinese Melbourne. When it comes to food, the Lau’s Family Kitchen offers the best Chinese in Melbourne.

One Noodle Friendship | Best Chinese Restaurant Melbourne

Preston

While the calling card is a handmade noodle in big springs, all the ancient Chinese classics will be shown. Ears are on the menu with fried rice, dumplings, and even hot pigs, but it is the homey feeling that will get you back every week. 

Everything about it is quite standard Chinese, yet it just serves to elevate the iconic status of one particular pair of noodles. That the furnishings can't magically morph into a Vogue Living suite is the point. A noodle party is easy, BYO, and hilarious. The Defs are trying to eat pigs' ears, and the results will astound you. It has some of Melbourne's finest Chinese cuisine.

Gold Leaf

Preston, Sunshine, Springvale, Docklands

Gold Leaf is one of Melbourne's oldest Asian restaurants, and it serves some of the city's finest Chinese cuisine. The featured banquets are great for parties of 4 to 10, and they come with bottles of Penfolds Bin 8 Shiraz and a noodle dish made with sautéed lobster or mud crab, ginger, shallots, and noodles. They understand who they're talking to. Aside from the szechuan pepper calamari, the deep-fried scallops are stuffed with fluffy raspberry pudding and ice cream.

Bamboo House

CBD

The Bamboo House, located on Bourke Street, has been a local favourite for authentic Cantonese cuisine since 1984. The Melbourne Chinese restaurant that you're about to enter is tastefully decorated in red and gold and bordered with bamboo, but the white, cheap tablecloths will quickly bring that fact home to you.

The Peking Duck is a must in Bamboo Kitchen, but its spicy calamari and Sichuan beef are other favourites. Book a service or go to the front door for a table, and at any time of the week, Bamboo House is the first-rate.

Wonderbao

CBD

Wonderbao is the best Chinese Melbourne. This little street kitchen seamlessly churns sensational fodder behind RMIT’s city campus. For those with a fear of meat, think of barbecue pork bao, chicken bao, and even a shiitake and tofu bao. Wonderbao is great for a lunch hit or a quick cure to your three-thirty-itis cup of homemade soy milk.

A Brief History of Chinese Restaurants in Australia

We previously discussed how the proliferation of Thai eateries in Australia was part of a strategy on the part of the Thai government to increase tourism and business.

However, Chinese restaurants can be found practically anywhere in Australia.

Many Chinese male indentured workers in Australia's rural areas started their careers as cooks at remote stations and country pubs. When the Chinese population in Australia skyrocketed during the 1850s gold rush, it was met with a proliferation of little shops called "cookhouses" that catered to the needs of the Chinese miners.

Originally catering mostly to Cantonese clientele, cookhouses eventually expanded their menus to include more Western favourites.

There was a Chinese restaurant in Ballarat, Victoria, called the Eureka Lead, that served roasts and puddings to Westerners.

A third of Australia's cooks were Chinese by the year 1890. But on the goldfields, anti-Chinese animosity erupted, prompting stricter regulations on the entry of Chinese miners.

Due to the White Australia policy being implemented in 1901, Chinese immigration to Australia came to a standstill.

Despite this, "bohemian" Australians and employees with late supper needs quickly came to appreciate Chinese cuisine.

Midway through the 1930s, chefs and restaurant owners were able to seek for White Australia Policy waivers to bring in Chinese labour.

No immediate family members could join them, however, so any ties to the outside world had to be concealed. They called themselves "cooks," but many of them had never even cooked before.

The menu and clientele were also considered while deciding whether or not to bring in additional help. They look favourably on "Chinese" restaurants that cater to Westerners and on Westerners who eat at those restaurants. ' The Cantonese emphasis on pork and seafood was replaced by a more "Australian" focus on beef and sweet and sour meals.

Restaurant applications were typically denied if the food they served was deemed too "ordinary" or if they catered to the "lower end of the market" (working-class Chinese and Westerners).

The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) also saw another inflow of Chinese and refugees to Australia, leading to a surge in the restaurant trade.

In contrast to eating in the barracks, many Allied soldiers prefered eating out during World War II, and they often credited the presence of the enemy nation with shifting local sentiments regarding Chinese cuisine.

Amendments to the White Australia Act in 1958 and 1966 paved the way for Asian immigration to Australia.

Despite the challenges posed by two wars, racist legislation, and a lack of immigration policy over the previous century, Chinese food in Australia has continued to thrive. Now, Chinese ingredients — unheard of 20 years ago — make regular appearances in Australian kitchens.

Legit Chinese Food Places in Melbourne That’ll Show You What’s Good

Chow Mein and brilliant orange chicken nuggets, heaped high and hanging over enormous cafeteria-style stainless steel bench steamers, are typical examples of Chinese food that come to mind when travelling abroad. But enough is enough; it's time to quit making excuses and start eating some genuine Chinese cuisine.

It's like looking for buried treasure to get decent Chinese food in Melbourne. It may take some effort to identify the best places to eat, but once you do, the rewards will well outweigh those of a simple treasure trove.

Supper Inn

Now, at first glance, the retro illuminated sign at the end of a narrow laneway, followed by an old staircase leading up to the establishment, may not seem promising, and your first instinct may be to think that we lied to you. However, the old-fashioned aesthetic gives off a traditional old-school vibe that translates into the food, so whatever is lacking in the exterior is made up in terms of flavour. 

Supper Inn serves up good, hearty Chinese comfort food such as warm bowls of congee that comes paired with fresh you tiao (Chinese doughnuts) and favourites like whole steamed fish and roast duck, perfect for sharing and brings back memories of sitting around the table with family. 

Going along with the ‘old school’ theme, most of their menu is written on paper and stuck on the walls…and is mostly in traditional writing. So, try speaking to the waiters and ask for their specials or recommendations before deciding on anything. 

From experience, must-haves would be a bowl of their congee, which comes in 10 different varieties, the simplest being the steamed chicken to the most decadent, and recommended – Salted Duck Egg Congee. Another winner is the XO Pi-Pi’s (clams), wok-fried with shells glistening from the spicy sauce. A serve of that paired with a steamy bowl of rice is always satisfying. 

  • Opening Hours: Daily 5.30 pm to 2.30 am
  • Address: 15 Celestial Avenue, CBD, Melbourne, VIC 

how many chinese restaurants in melbourne2Rose Garden  

Almost as if you’re walking down the streets of Hong Kong, rows of roast chicken, sticky char siew (BBQ pork) and crispy roast duck hang from metal rungs right next to the window, the fragrant smells wafting out the door, calling out to you to come in for the ‘OG’ of Chinese meals. 

Aside from serving classic Chinese BBQ, the establishment serves up all kinds of proteins cooked to your preference – Sichuan, curry or stir-fried. However, many come with one idea in mind, and at the top of the first page of the menu, it’s the selection of roasts, all served up on a bed of steaming hot rice drowned in a sweet, dark umami soy gravy. 

If you’re going for the roasts, definitely opt for a mix of three and have the classic combination of Siew Yoke (Crispy Pork Belly), Char Siew (Sticky BBQ Pork) and the Roast Duck! ($11.50) or you could also choose to have a larger portion of just one option ($9.50). 

Hanging alongside the classic roasts are the proteins that have been prepared ‘Hainanese’ style. So, if you’re looking for a less decadent option (but still full of punchy traditional flavour), go for the juicy steamed Soy Sauce Chicken ($9.00).

  • Opening Hours: Daily 11 am to 9 pm | Closed on Sun
  • Address: 435 Elizabeth Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC

Flower Drum

If you’re looking for a casual meal or while saving up some cash, we wouldn’t recommend Flower Drum. But in saying that, the steep prices make Flower Drum the perfect option for a special gathering, and you can rest assured that the dishes served are of your money’s worth. 

Indulge in dishes such as the Mud Crab Xiao Long Bao, Scallop Siew Mai, a rich Hor Fun (stir-fried rice noodles) with slices of Black Angus beef or treat yourself to a large selection of fresh seafood, from brought straight to your table for your inspection before being prepared to your liking (sautéed in Foie Gras, anyone?). 

  • Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 12pm to 3pm & 6pm to 11pm | Sun 6pm to 11pm
  • Address: 17 Market Lane, CBD, Melbourne, VIC

Shark Fin Inn

Chow Mein and brilliant orange chicken nuggets, heaped high and hanging over enormous cafeteria-style stainless steel bench steamers, are typical examples of Chinese food that come to mind when travelling abroad. But enough is enough; it's time to quit making excuses and start eating some genuine Chinese cuisine.

It's like looking for buried treasure to get decent Chinese food in Melbourne. It may take some effort to identify the best places to eat, but once you do, the rewards will well outweigh those of a simple treasure trove.

  • Opening Hours: Mon to Sat 11.30am to 3.00pm & 5.30pm to 1.30am | Sun 11.00am to 3.00pm & 5.30pm to 1.30am
  • Address: 50 Little Bourke Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC 

Nam Loong 

Nam Loong serves up all the classics and is another great spot for Chinese food. So, what makes it stand out on this list, you ask? Well, it’s none other than their drool-worthy Lobster Ee Fu Noodles.

The seafood is superbly fresh and is also brought to you at the table for that added emphasis. Because of the different weights of each specimen, you might have to be prepared to fork out a little bit of dosh, but we promise that it will be worth every single penny. 

The dish comes served with none other than your convenience in mind, with the lobster portioned out into manageable pieces atop of springy braised noodles in this killer starchy, garlicky, dark gravy. 

If you’re not too much into seafood, however, as aforementioned, there are plenty of other lovely dishes to choose from, so Lobster Noodles aside, Nam Loong remains a great member of our Chinese food must-try list. 

  • Opening Hours: Sun to Thur 11 am to 11 pm | Fri & Sat 11 am to 12 am
  • Address: 171 Russell Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC 

 

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