The Yum Cha experience can be tailored to the diner's preferences, much like the contents of the bamboo baskets carried by the trolleys. Nonetheless, Yum Cha options are not lacking in Melbourne. A quick, grab-and-go lunch during the week? A quiet, elegant dinner party with faultless service and gourmet fare? A stumbling around on a Sunday with a raging hangover that begs to be medicated with tea and Dim Sum? There's plenty of choice when the trollies come, so this list of the best Yum Cha in Melbourne will get you on the right track no matter what time of day it is.
Pancake-like pork pies. Tofu skin is fried and stuffed with pork. Roasted elk tendon. Steamed dumplings with prawns. Those are the staples at any decent yum cha. Find our recommended Melbourne trolley stops, invite some friends over, and pig out on steamed, fried, and roasted dishes while sipping your favourite tea (or wine).
Yum Cha Store In Melbourne
Yum cha is a unique dining experience consisting of a variety of small bites that are combined to make a full meal. While dumplings tend to take up a lot of real estate, everything from your standard order of fried rice to spicy barramundi is on the table if you look hard enough.
For all of your yum cha needs, you can find some excellent restaurants in Melbourne. So, we've compiled a list of the top yum cha spots in Melbourne.
Secret Kitchen Chinatown
Chinese cuisine, bonza location, and fluffy pork buns fashioned to look like little pigs are the cornerstones of Secret Kitchen’s appeal. This venue falls under the China Bar umbrella, and despite being on the tall end of Chinatown, it can pull a crowd.
It’s as bustling on weekdays as it is at weekends; stand too long beside your table, and you’ll run the risk of being sideswiped by a trolley. Sit swiftly and get down to business.
You’ve probably seen the fish tank – it’s pretty hard to miss. Secret Kitchen claims it’s the biggest live seafood aquarium in all of Australia, and we have no reason to doubt it, given it’s a $700,000 investment that’s as long as three dinner tables end-to-end.
Seafood is the most compelling of all the reasons to eat yum cha here. They pride themselves on their soft shrimp tarrow, Hakka style salt and pepper baked fish and steamed crab.
Instead of baskets of pale, plump packages, you get pink Zha Liang, black fungus wraps and gravy beef served with alarmingly big looking red chilis.
Of course, all your old favourites are there: sticky har gow, soupy vegetarian dumplings, and pan-fried dumplings with lacey fried crunchy bits that will start turf wars at your table.
Dessert-wise, their steamed red bean sweet buns (decorated to look like orange-nosed piggies) are a little cutesy, but it’s hard to pass up those ridiculously sweet, sticky bread buns, so why try. Order a round and avert your eyes when you bite into those little animated piggy faces.
Red Door Yum Cha
The Red Door Yum Cha menu is stacked with only high-grade dumplings ranging from lobster & scallop, prawn & crab, chicken & peanut, vegetarian, Shanghai pork and corn & prawn.
Other must-tries include the pulled pork with spiced honey, spinach and green tea noodles and slow-cooked chilli and lime leaf chicken. You can also pay $39 per person to let the Red Door team select eight of their yum cha dishes, paired with a black bean beef hotpot, mixed veggies and rice. Plus some ice cream for dessert, of course.
Gold Leaf Yum Cha
As part of the Gold Leaf group, Docklands' branch is a haven for dim sum chasers who want their dishes served hot and their service efficient.
You'll find all your typical dishes here like har gow, sui mai, chicken feet and tendon, but pay special attention when the barrel of fresh, silken tofu rolls past for some of the best tofu fa (fresh, warm tofu topped with a ginger soup) in Melbourne.
Oriental Teahouse's carefully curated and expertly portioned yum cha menu is a must-try for any dumpling connoisseur. The Xia Long Bao is the star attraction at this original dumpling house, but it's not the only reason it's considered among the best yum cha in Melbourne.
The Oriental Teahouse serves one of the best fried rice dishes in all of Melbourne; the Legit Special Fried Rice is a must-order for any yum cha patron. Try the salt and pepper tofu if you're vegetarian, and the shredded steak with sweet chilli sauce if you're not.
In 2020, after some refurbishment, Oriental Tea House will once again be serving its signature tea-fueled yum cha. The food here is a fusion of classic Chinese with a contemporary Melbourne flavour. Between Tuesday and Saturday, you can enjoy your favourite dim sum dishes alongside a variety of speciality teas, from gunpowder to oolong.
You could also make raspberry mojitos and pour them into your teapot. Be bold and try something new, like beetroot-dyed roast duck, wagyu beef with a spicy kick, or white chocolate in a dumpling. They're so incredible that you won't be able to stand it.
Small, tasty parcels of food served with a pot of freshly brewed Chinese tea are the essence of the Yum Cha experience at Oriental Teahouse.
In the years since its founding in 1993, Oriental Teahouse has expanded to two locations, each with its own unique vibe, but both of which share the same status as Melbourne's preeminent Yum Cha spot. You can expect to find all the traditional flavours you expect in a great dumpling, but these chefs aren't afraid to experiment with new combinations. Dumplings made of white chocolate? I want them sent over.
Golden Dragon Palace
You can always count on people looking for the best yum cha in town. One strategy is to travel around the eastern suburbs around lunchtime in search of Chinese eateries with more people in the parking lot than at Chadstone on Christmas Eve and a steady stream of families with children of all ages entering the establishment.
One such venue is the Golden Dragon Palace, located in Lower Templestowe. It's right next to a McDonald's, so it draws a lot of weekend business from people looking for yum cha. High-backed chairs, a random dragon statue, ornate wood carvings, and vases big enough to hide a child all contribute to the room's attempt at an opulent palace aesthetic.
This yum cha establishment charges a slightly higher price than average, but makes up for it with a more polished service team and a less hectic environment. You can count on seeing all your old favourites, like har gau (prawn dumplings) and Siu Mai (pork dumplings), on the trolleys, along with some more interesting options.
Thanks a lot to the wu gok (taro ball). Its crisp, lacy exterior is a nice contrast to the smooth mashed taro interior, and it comes in the shape of a hairy football. The crunchy sweetness of a variety of vegetables is encased in a delicate tofu skin and rolled up for a tasty appetiser in these tasty rolls. The steamed scallop dumpling and the chive and prawn dumpling are two examples of exquisite, delicate, and silky dim sum.
The vegetarian Cheong fun (rice noodle roll) that has split open at the seams and is slightly overcooked is less impressive. However, vegetarians can rest assured that they won't be limited to the same old Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce.
Mango pudding in the traditional heart shape, made with real mango chunks, is a sweet and satisfying dessert, while ice-cream balls covered in coconut are a refreshing and novel way to end the meal.
This busy Cantonese eatery on the ground floor is always packed for lunch and dinner due to the popularity of its seafood specialities. Crystal Jade is a popular spot for large groups to get together and chat over winter melon soup, lobster stir-fry over egg noodles, and other traditional Chinese dishes. Tanks of live seafood line one wall; you can buy mud crabs for market price alongside more common fish like coral trout and barramundi.
It is common to have wu gok (fried taro dumplings) stuffed with creamy chicken instead of the more common pork gravy at yum cha, which is served every day. Steamed buns with a sweet and savoury runny salted egg yolk custard are known as "golden lava buns," and they typically have an orange hue.
Crystal Jade is a family favourite in the heart of Chinatown because of its large tables and consistent service. All of the dishes feature the finest ingredients available, brought all the way to Melbourne.
Try visualising seasonal ingredients like Italian truffles and tank-fresh seafood. Carts won't be circling while you shop; instead, you'll use a list to mark off what you want. Indulge in some winter melon soup, which is traditionally served in a melon that has been hollowed out and placed on the table. You could also try some dumplings—perhaps some stuffed with pork and coriander, or perhaps some stuffed with ginger and prawns.
Din Tai Fung
The hype was palpable when Din Tai Fung opened in our city. Hailed as some of the best yum cha outside of Asia, and certainly some of the best in Australia, their dumplings are little bites of deliciousness.
Din Tai Fung’s standards are outrageously high, both taste and presentation. They also have a pretty loaded menu, so if you’re not sure where to start, try the spicy shrimp and pork wonton, Kung Pao chicken or shrimp and pork wonton noodles with a spicy sauce.
You might not expect to find first-class yum cha tucked away in a shopping centre.
But the Emporium is home to some of the world's tastiest dumplings. So drop those heavy shopping bags and refuel with a feast. Yum cha at Din Tai Fung is quite the show. You can watch the chefs working in the open kitchen, folding dumplings at a lightning-fast speed. Try the xiao long bao, and these soupy parcels are heavenly.
David Zhou’s formal Chinese restaurant has had a 2012 make-under. The plush banquettes and novelty lamps are gone, replaced with distressed school chairs, shared tables, and a fresh whitewash paint-job.
Your placemat is the menu, and it’s spruiking regional-style shared dishes. Tick, tick, tick. Our waiter even has an asymmetrical flop of hair.
There are some great dishes: braised eggplant, spicy, soft and tangy with garlic, chilli and black vinegar; a bowl of chilled, hard-boiled quail eggs, steeped in oolong tea with fragrant wolfberries giving them a slight aniseed kick, and little school prawns, flash-fried for crunching down whole. But what’s with the rush? There’s no angry mob waiting for our seats, and yet everything hits the table instantly, out of order and with no explanation.
Mains arrive immediately, while run-of-the-mill dumplings and (better) stuff-’em-yourself pork buns (sweet steamed bread with a spoonable cube of gelatinous pork belly) bring up the rear. A worrying indication that they’re the only dishes cooked to order.
Speed doesn’t favour chewy pork ribs or for the sections of sake-poached chicken, which are strangely clammy, ice-cold from the fridge. But then, it’s a great room, the wine starts at $35, and the menu steers creative over classic. Suppose you’re in the hood and in a hurry. David’s is a mainstay of the yum cha scene in Melbourne and has been for some time now. With over 20 years of heritage in every dish, highlights include the San Choi Bao and authentic Chinese pork belly. They’ve also got an all you can eat yum cha menu with a version for vegans too.
HuTong Dumpling Bar
You know you’re in the right place for classic Chinese yum cha when there’s a menu that’s at least five pages long. Hu Tong dumpling bar first started up in 2008, and there are a few things the hub has become renowned for. For starters, get on those handmade chilli wontons, then pair it with one of the lighter dishes on the menu like the Peking duck pancake, and you have some of the best yum cha Melbourne can serve up.
Tim Ho Wan
There’s a Michelin-star chef behind this international yum cha sensation, so you know they’re doing something right. The whole menu will satisfy your deepest yum cha cravings, but Tim Ho Wan is famous for pork buns, so order at least a few.
Pull up a seat at the world's most affordable Michelin starred restaurant. So what makes this dumpling spot so good its Hong Kong branch earned a coveted star? Tim Ho Wan makes all its dim sum to order from fresh, quality ingredients.
Try the signature BBQ pork bun and the artfully pleated prawn dumplings. Finish with steamed egg cake. They don't take bookings, so get in early 10 am wearing your stretchiest pants.
Take your search to Southbank and get dim sum with a side of stellar views. Dine al fresco on the terrace overlooking the Yarra River. This is yum cha served the traditional way, straight off the trolley. Be sure to capture a basket of fluffy BBQ honey pork buns.
If you opt for all-you-can-eat, you’ll want to save room for a gorgeous egg tart for dessert. Red Emperor also has a selection of coeliac friendly options that don't skimp on flavour.
Shark Fin Inn
The "original" Shark Fin has been serving authentic Cantonese cuisine to city dwellers of Melbourne since the 1980s. Although reservations are not required for the daily yum cha service, on the weekends, lines can extend out onto Little Bourke Street as customers wait to be ushered to their reserved tables.
While the har gow are exquisitely sugary and snappy, the ngau yuk Cheung fun (steamed beef rice noodles) are so silky that you can't help but slurp the sweet soy-soaked sheets.
The very definition of a Melbourne landmark! Since the 1980s, dumpling-craving Melburnians have been able to satisfy their yum cha cravings at Shark Fin Inn. Come on by for some authentic Cantonese food at a reasonable price for lunch. No matter what, you can always count on delicious har gao prawn dumplings. Do you wish to experiment with something novel? Get a load of this basket of chicken ft. The delicate layers of taro dumplings, which are fried until crisp, are a must-try.
The authentic travel from the edges of the empire to gather under this ambient sanctuary is dedicated to the worship of flavour. From the mind of an iconic restaurateur, Spice Temple draws culinary inspiration from the lesser-known regional provinces of China and serves them to you one delicate morsel at a time. Proposing a more distinguished take on the Yum Cha experience, you’ll find no trolleys here – dishes are ordered a la carte and service is world-class.
Spice Temple is a dumpling haven; the Southbank Yum cha spot has got to be one of the best in Melbourne’s CBD. They have two banquet options with a collection of the restaurant's greatest hit—or you can order A la carte. If you order A la carte, we recommend the Bang Bang Chicken and the lamb dumplings with chilli.
Flower Drum Restaurant Melbourne
The Flower Drum is an ancient and elegant dance from China, and its Melbourne interpretation will set your taste buds ablaze just like the Chinese New Year celebrations.
The Flower Drum's many banquet offerings have rightfully staked their claim as some of the best Yum Cha in Melbourne thanks to the restaurant's flexible menu, which changes with the seasons, and philosophical commitment to using only the freshest ingredients and striking a delicate balance of flavours. The Chef's five-course signature banquet with paired wines is the pinnacle of the dining experience; it's not cheap, but it's an evening you won't soon forget.
It's likely that if you live in Melbourne, you're familiar with Flower Drum. Yum Cha at this Chinese restaurant ranks among Melbourne's best. The restaurant has a long history as a Chinese culinary landmark thanks to its refined decor, impeccable service, and extensive menu of exceptional Cantonese dishes.
Lunch and dinner banquet menus take the guesswork out of planning a meal and leave you with a plethora of dishes from which to create culinary recollections. You must begin with either the pork and spring onion-filled Har Gao or the pork, prawn, and chive-stuffed Har Gao that is marinated in sesame.
The Crown’s resident luxe Chinese restaurant Silks offers some of the best Yum Cha in Melbourne every lunchtime on weekdays.
This isn’t your standard eat as much as you can handle feeding frenzy type affairs; silks offers a dignified take on the Yum Cha experience. $50 will get you a choice of three premium dishes – the delicate lobster, ginger & green onion dumpling is a crowd-pleaser – plus noodles or congee and a drink. Not the cheapest offering in town, but you’ll certainly head back to work satiated.
China Red's logo means double happiness, so good times and great food are guaranteed here. You order from a touch screen tablet, and dishes come faster than you can say 'xiao long bao'. That's their signature dish, by the way.
Without ordering a basket or five of these steamed Shanghai-style dumplings, don't go home. China Red blends modern and traditional, and you'll find all your yum cha favourites. Take time out from downing dim sum to watch the dumpling artists at work behind the window.
Gold Leaf Docklands
When you're heading to Docklands, dining at Gold Leaf is a must. Gold Leaf adds a creative flair to authentic Cantonese yum cha with more than 100 dim sum dishes to choose from.
They don’t just keep the fun limited to the daytime, and you can get their delicious yum cha at night, too. The menu heroes fresh seafood, but there are vegetarian-friendly options. Plant-based folks will adore the deep-fried spicy salt and pepper bean curd.
The carts roll hard and fast at the Golf Leaf, dispensing everything from the crowd-pleasing dumpling staples to adventurous experiments dripping in XO sauce that’ll keep you on your toes.
A stalwart example of the classic speedy and the noisy hustle and bustle Yum Cha experience, the Gold Leaf is the ideal midweek lunch; crack a few baskets, knock back some tea and go back to work.
Lucky Chan Restaurant
The Crown's Lucky Chan is another opulent establishment here. In addition to an extensive menu of à la carte Cantonese dishes, with a focus on fresh seafood, they have some of the best Yum Cha in Melbourne.
At both lunch and dinner, trolleys laden with Dim Sum treats make their way among the tables. These can be ordered as a side to one of Lucky Chan's signature mains, or as a complete meal.
Even though neither Melbourne HuTong is technically Yum Cha, your worries will disappear as soon as a basket of Xiao-Long-Bao is placed in front of you.
Whatever your prefered method of consumption, please remember that these translucent parcels of heaven (along with other HuTong signatures; pan-fried pork dumplings, chilli wonton) deserve a sizeable portion of the credit for sparking dumpling fever in Melbourne. Sure, a lot of other Yum Cha restaurants in Melbourne serve up the same dishes, and they do so competently, but HuTong sure raises the bar.
FAQs About Yum Cha In Melbourne
Melbourne's Yum Cha scene has matured quite quickly in recent years, from humble beginnings to a bold new frontier.
No longer are we confined to a single style of Chinese cuisine like Cantonese, as restaurants are now offering insights into many other regional cuisines and influences, like Sichuan, Yunnan, Hunan, and Xinjiang.
Hailed as some of the best yum cha outside of Asia, and certainly some of the best yum in Australia, you can now get their goods sent directly to the door.
Din Tai Fung’s standards are outrageously high, both in taste and presentation—place an order through the website or via Deliveroo and Easy to see for yourself.
Yum cha, it's the cuisine that's made up of at least several different snacks to form a meal in its entirety. As a result, it's often dumpling heavy, but you can find everything from your go-to special fried rice to spicy barramundi, depending on which menu you're looking at.