Compiled by Freya Ensbey.
The influence of Chinese food in Australia began in the gold rushes of the 1850’s and 1860’s, when the first groups of Chinese people came to Australia in search of gold. For more than 150 years, Chinese cooks and Chefs have made Australia a vastly more interesting place to eat, and today, Chinese cuisine contributes to our country’s food identity, just as much as Italian or French. As we celebrate all things Chinese spice, we bring you a collation of some of Australia’s best Chinese restaurants.
Flower Drum | VIC
Opened in 1975 by Gilbert Lau, Flower Drum has a well-established history amongst foodies and Melbournians alike. Flower Drum’s vision has always been to create a Cantonese cuisine to penetrate the tough Australian food market, ultimately establishing a Chinese restaurant that would rival the dominant European cuisines of the city. Residing in an unlikely building set along Market Lane in the heart of Melbourne your taste journey may begin with a starter of marinated jellyfish with sesame dressing or before moving onto authentic mains like the Peking duck wrapped in a pancake with plum sauce or Sichuan diced pork with fried tofu, radish and pine nuts.
Taste Gallery | QLD
When Sunnybank locals crave Chinese, they visit the friendly staff at Taste Gallery, based in the Market Square Centre on the corner of McCullough Street and Mains Road. Nab a menu and a round table by a fish tank for easy plate sharing with family and friends or slide into a comfy booth to ensure a steady flow of conversation in this warm and lively restaurant. Rich and flavoursome Asian fusion dishes are presented in tasting plates and large mains, all made from fresh, local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients.
Photo: Spice Temple Sydney's snake beans stir fried with pork and XO sauce.
When thinking contemporary Chinese cuisine, we couldn’t go past Spice Temple nestled along Bligh Street in Sydney, created by the Rockpool Group, adding to their acclaimed sister establishment residing at Crown Melbourne. Spice Temple entices guests into an elegant and sultry atmosphere styled with red velvet carpet, deep wood furniture and ambient pendent lighting. Order dishes designed to be shared from the a la carte menu or opt for The Golden Banquet and indulge in an array of visually stunning, refined dishes.
Ricery Hurstville | NSW
Set along the busy street of Forest Road in Hurstville, is a little store front packing big flavour, Ricery Hurstville in Times Plaza. Ricery is an ode to all things rice, with a menu encapsulating several Asian cuisines and influences, serving rice options of Taiwan white and germinated brown or black as an accompaniment to any dish. Delve into plates plated with flair, like the must try dim sums and select from tasty options of pork and chive dumplings or the dragon warrior dumplings served in an aromatic, white broth.
Photo: Lee Ho Fook's Hiramasa kingfish with leek, cloud fungi, radish, burnt garlic, ginger and white soy cream.
Lee Ho Fook | VIC
Perched in Duckboard Place, just off the famous Flinders Lane in Melbourne’s CBD, you’ll find a little taste of China at Lee Ho Fook. A contemporary interior is styled with exposed brick walls, whilst whimsical landscape artworks adorn the walls illuminated by pendant lighting hanging from the high ceilings, creating an inviting space to stay for hours among the buzz of cheery locals sharing in conversation and authentic Chinese fare. Sample inventive creations like the Typhoon Shelter – two textures of tofu or perhaps the blue swimmer crab with chrysanthemum leaves, red vinegar and Avruga caviar.
Dumplings & Beer | NSW
A hidden gem in Sydney’s Potts Point, Dumplings & Beer has fast gained a loyal following for their bite-sized eatery on Ward Avenue. An elegant interior design and tightly winding staircase is matched by vibrant splashes of colour, adorned with elaborate tasseled candelabras and large Asian style artwork for a cosy, exclusive ambiance. This hole-in-the-wall eatery more than makes up for what it lacks in seating space by packing a short but sweet menu full of big flavours.
Billy Kwong | NSW
Combining the warmth and charm of a neighbourhood Chinese eating house with the dynamism of an open kitchen, Billy Kwong in Potts Point is a place for the community to meet, talk, eat and drink in a comfortable, nurturing atmosphere. Billy Kwong’s menu showcases an authentic Australian-Chinese food that Kylie Kwong has made her very own. The sweet, sour, salty, oceanic, peppery, tart, citrusy, bitter, floral and woody notes of Australian native ingredients deliver a natural affinity with the flavour profiles of Chinese food. Integrating indigenous produce into the recipes has allowed them to create a cuisine that is authentic in taste, yet giving nod to this land and its people.
Waves Restaurant | QLD
When looking to feast like royalty in the heart of Surfers Paradise, head to Waves Buffet Restaurant, tucked into the Watermark Hotel and Spa on Surfers Paradise Boulevard. Spaciously arranged, diners can unwind among a timelessly furnished setting, surrounded by earthy tones and a whirl of tantalising aromas. Exciting tastes are on offer, inspired by the much-loved flavours of Asia, India and the Mediterranean, perhaps start with prawns and rock oysters before moving through spicy curries, tangy stir-fries, marinated meats and a selection of vibrant side salads.
Photo: Me Wah Hobart's crayfish.
Me Wah Hobart | TAS
Spoil yourself and loved ones with a feast of creative Cantonese cuisine in sophisticated surrounds at Me Wah Hobart in Sandy Bay. Dark and moody tones, an ambient glow of light and intricately detailed furnishings set the scene for decadent dining with an air of elegance descending upon diners as they give in to tempting aromas. Unravel the culinary mysteries of Me Wah’s menu, perusing through many delectable banquet options that lay down a path for discovery, or embark on an unchartered flavour journey through a tantalising selection of a la carte dishes.
Sun Wah | VIC
For Asian fusion cuisine by the bayside, be sure dine at Sun Wah, situated at the foot of Mordialloc Bay. Recently renovated to showcase the original brickwork, adornments like white lanterns, American oak table tops and quirky artwork create a chic vibe, attracting a loyal crowd of trendy visitors looking to dine in an intimate ambiance. The menu focus is given to Modern Asian fusion, incorporating European influences for an innovative take on classic Chinese fare. Mouth-watering combinations of citrus and sweet tastes satiate those seeking a burst of flavour, while those who like it hot can enjoy chilli and other tantalising spices.
Offering a doorway to the delights of the orient is Gawler Palace Chinese Restaurant, situated close to the major wine district of the Barossa Valley. A local haunt for many folk about town, this third generation family friendly restaurant provides a warm and welcoming setting to feast on banquets of delicious Chinese cuisine complemented by country hospitality. With a vast selection of meat and vegetable based dishes to choose from, Gawler Palace’s menu may feature the likes of short soup filled with wontons for starters followed by mains such as sizzling lemongrass steak and sizzling fillet steak in Mongolian inspired flavours.
Featuring three restaurants across Sydney and the addition of a Bourke street establishment in Melbourne has been the achievement following several decades of experience in making dim sum by both Chef Mak and Chef Leung, the visionaries behind building the Michelin starred brand Tim Ho Wan. Producing affordable, high quality dim sum, utilising only the best ingredients, Tim Ho Wan’s dim sums are freshly made-to-order, having locals return daily to sample the little morsels of flavour explosions. Also sample decadent bites like the braised chicken feet with abalone sauce, spinach dumplings with garlic and Enoki mushrooms or perhaps the glutinous rice wrapped in a lotus leaf.