The Yum Cha experience is as varied as the contents of those trolley-borne bamboo baskets and conforms to whichever scenario the diner deems most appropriate. When it comes to Yum Cha, Melbourne has got you covered.
Fluffy pork buns. Pork wrapped in fried tofu skin. Beef tendon. Prawn dumplings. These are traditional dishes of any good yum cha. Stalk out our favourite trolley spots in Melbourne, gather your friends and feast on endless steamed, fried and roasted plates while washing it down with your favourite tea (or wine).
A midweek in and out, point-and-grab lunchtime feast? A subdued, refined affair with seamless service and premier ingredients? A Sunday shuffle with a killer hangover begging to be drowned in tea and Dim Sum? There’s enough variety to keep everyone satisfied when the trollies roll, so no matter what your schedule, this list featuring the best Yum Cha in Melbourne will set you straight.
Yum cha, it's the special culinary experience that's made up of at least several different snacks to form a meal in its entirety. 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.
Melbourne has got some pretty good spots for all your yum cha needs. So we’ve curated a list of the best yum cha in Melbourne for 2021:
The Best Yum Cha Restaurants In Melbourne
Steamed buns and dumplings and egg tarts, oh my! Gather your hungriest friends and check out our top spots for Yum Cha in Melbourne.
Oriental Teahouse began as a single restaurant many years ago in Chapel Street, South Yarra, and now boasts a second establishment, which goes to show how popular this particular yum cha restaurant is to Melburnians.
Oriental Teahouse is all about bringing together modern eating and traditional food – and kids will feel right at home in their contemporary restaurants and love the extensive dumpling menu.
A great option at Oriental Teahouse is to take advantage of their group menus. A family of four can dine for a total of $120, which includes nine different dishes. Yum Cha is served all day with the lunch service coming around on trolleys.
After undergoing renovations in 2020, Oriental Tea House is back with its tea-powered yum cha. This place infuses traditional Chinese cuisine with a modern Melbourne twist. Between Tuesday and Saturday, find all your dim sum favourites alongside speciality teas, from gunpowder to oolong.
Or, if you'd prefer, fill your teapot with raspberry mojitos. Don't be afraid of the out-there dumpling flavours like beetroot-dyed roast duck, chilli wagyu beef and white chocolate. They'll knock your socks off.
Oriental Teahouse takes the Yum Cha experience and boils it down, if you will, to its essence; small, delicious parcels of food paired with a pot of well-brewed Chinese tea.
Since its inception in 1993, Oriental Teahouse has spread to two distinct locations, each with a slightly different approach; yet both remain the quintessential destination for Yum Cha in Melbourne.
You’ll find all the classic flavours you’ve come to love in the perfect dumpling – but these guys aren’t afraid to mix it up—white chocolate dumplings.
Address: 378 Little Collins St, Melbourne and 455 Chapel St, South Yarra
Tim Ho Wan
Michelin-starred and oh-so-popular, Tim Ho Wan is a must-visit yum cha in Melbourne. Chefs Mak Kwai Pui and Leung Fai Keung are renowned for being masters of the Chinese dim sum – which might explain why they won the title of Best Restaurant in Asia in 2015.
They use only the best ingredients to deliver outstanding yum cha to the discerning patrons of Melbourne - and they positively nail the Chinese pork buns.
Located on Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD (adjacent to Chinatown), Tim Ho Wan is hugely popular with families, especially on the weekends, for their excellent Yum Cha service.
Yum, cha is served all day from the menu. No trolleys at this one, but you receive a paper menu with images to tick off what you’d like, so the kids will enjoy choosing their own.
Address: 206 Bourke St, Melbourne
Dragon Boat Chinatown
This well-established Chinese restaurant in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown serves excellent yum cha seven days a week and is a popular destination for families. Dim Sims is made fresh onsite daily at Dragon Boat, and yum cha is served all day from 8 am to 5 pm on trolleys.
It is heaps of fun for the kids who get to choose what they want. Plus, there is plenty of room for prams.
Address: 203 Lt. Bourke Street, Chinatown
West Lake is another long-standing Chinese favourite, super-popular with families. It is a large restaurant, with food served over two levels – and it can get very busy, which makes for a fun atmosphere.
This Chinese restaurant is spacious and renowned for serving excellent yum cha in Melbourne off the trolley until 5 pm (you have to order off the menu at other times). West Lake is a great, authentic yum cha experience. It’s open seven days a week and open until really, really late.
Address: 189 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
New Shanghai is a fun and contemporary Chinese restaurant packed with colour and a fabulous atmosphere. This Yum Cha option is very popular with families due to its easy locations in Melbourne’s busiest shopping areas.
One of the most memorable things about New Shanghai is its Dumpling Theatre. Families can sit and watch the experienced chefs preparing and cooking traditional Shanghai dumplings – great entertainment for little foodies. This is another yum cha service not served on trolleys; guests order off a paper menu.
Address: Emporium, Lonsdale St, Melbourne and Chadstone Shopping Centre
For the location, it’s pretty hard to top this. Red Emperor sits right on the beautiful Southbank, overlooking the Yarra River, and its proximity to other attractions make it a convenient stop for families who are in the city for the day.
It is elegant dining at Red Emperor, with white tablecloths and a stunning backdrop. The dumplings prepared here are made with the finest ingredients and are MSG-free.
The yum cha service operates seven days a week, and you can order off trolleys for the lunch hours.
Address: Level 2, Southgate Restaurant & Shopping Precinct, Southbank
Every weekend some of the best Yum Cha in Melbourne flows under the paper lamps and whitewashed walls of David’s. You can forget the anxious wait for the starters to arrive – the baskets flow fresh from the kitchen to the table as soon as your butt hits the stool.
One of the rare all you can eat affairs, each dish is a tribute to generations of fresh, simple cuisine dreamt up in the riverside homes of rural Shanghai and presented to you, a basket by steaming basket until all you can muster is a smile and a feeble “please, no more”.
Address: 4 Cecil Place, Prahran, VIC 3181
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 iconic restaurateur Neil Perry, 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.
Located in: Crown Melbourne
Address: 8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006
Secret Kitchen Chinatown
The trolleys roll at lunchtime every day at Secret Kitchen. The flagship restaurant, one of four locations across the city, is nestled in the thrum of Chinatown; however, the rattle of the city streets is muffled somewhat by the imposing fish tank that greets diners-to-be.
Secret Kitchen claims it’s the largest live seafood aquarium in Melbourne and, if you’re thinking of sampling the extensive seafood offerings, it probably contains your lunch.
With fifty years’ Chinese culinary experience between the pair of them, you can expect an authentic, all-out assault on the taste buds from the boys in the kitchen.
Address: 222 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Flower Drum Restaurant Melbourne
Known as an ancient and elegant dance in China, the Melbourne version of the Flower Drum will light up your taste buds like it's Chinese New Year.
With an adaptable menu that changes with the seasons and a philosophy that demands the freshest ingredients and a delicate balance of flavours, the Flower Drum’s many banquet offerings have rightfully staked their claim as some of the best Yum Cha in Melbourne.
At the zenith sits the Chef’s five-course signature banquet with matching wines – it will cost you a pretty penny, but it promises to be a dining experience you won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Address: 17 Market Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
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 offer 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.
Address: Crown Melbourne, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006
Din Tai Fung
DTF built a cult-like following in Sydney before venturing south near Melbourne Central Station in 2015 to show eagerly-awaiting Melburnians what all the fuss was about. It turns out it was worth the wait. And still is, should you find yourself queuing for a table on any day that ends in ‘y’.
But fret not, these guys have got more than just the art of dumpling-building down to a science; a buzzer frees you to wander outside the constraints of the waiting room and alerts you when it’s your turn to claim one of the 235 seats in the dining room. Din Tai Fung is possibly the classiest yum cha Melbourne CBD has to offer.
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. 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 at work in the open kitchen, folding dumplings at lightning-fast speed. Try the xiao long bao. These soupy parcels are heavenly.
Address: Emporium Shopping Centre, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Lucky Chan Restaurant
As another resident of the Crown, Lucky Chan is one of the more decadent locales on this list. They combine some of the best Yum Cha in Melbourne with an impressive selection of à la carte Cantonese cuisine, specialising in live seafood.
The trolleys meander through the tables during lunch and dinner, laden with Dim Sum delicacies that act as either a supplement to one of Lucky Chan’s signature mains or as easily serve as the entire meal, one basket at a time.
Address: Crown Melbourne, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006
While neither of HuTong's Melbourne locations is Yum Cha in the strict sense of the word, that concern will evaporate when a basket of Xiao-Long-Bao slides under your nose.
No matter how you ingest these translucent parcels of heaven, keep in mind that these morsels (as well as other HuTong signatures; pan-fried pork dumplings, chilli wonton) deserve a sizeable chunk of credit for sparking Melbourne’s dumpling fever.
Sure, many other joints dishing out Yum Cha in Melbourne do these dishes and do them well, but HuTong sure sets the bar high.
Address: 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Crystal Jade Restaurant
Located right in the heart of Chinatown, Melbourne, the folks at Crystal Jade offer lunchtime Yum Cha with three seating times per day outlined below.
The signature dish remains the Wok Fried Snow Crab in French Foie Gras Pate, a welcome deviation from classic Dim Sum offerings that sets this Melbourne Yum Cha joint apart from standard point-and-grab affairs.
Staff is happy to provide assistance and encouragement to those looking to tackle some of the more adventurous creations on the menu—a true local favourite.
Located in: Chinatown Melbourne
Seatings: 1st 11:15am -12:15pm, 2nd 12:30pm – 1:30pm, 3rd 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Address: 154 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Gold Leaf Chinese Restaurant
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.
Address: 10-11 Star Cres, Docklands VIC 3008
Golden Dragon Palace
Consistently on the radar as some of the best Yum Cha in Melbourne, Golden Dragon Palace’s food is top-notch. Well-presented and efficient staff steer trolleys loaded with bamboo baskets beneath the chandeliers and ornate wooden dragon carvings that dominate the lavishly decorated restaurant.
It’s a good idea to book ahead for the daily lunchtime meal, despite its impressive size this place can fill up fast. Keep an eye out for the scallop dumplings, and be sure to save room for the mango pancakes.
Address: 363 Manningham Rd, Templestowe VIC 3107
Fusing Malaysian and Chinese cuisine (and chucking in a hint of Japanese influence for good measure), The Potsticker displays a staggering selection of dim sum – over sixty at last count – for their daily Yum Cha offering.
Dietary requirements are damned near the electronic cherry blossom tree that dominates, well, the whole restaurant; the vast selection includes something for everyone, vegetarian and celiac alike.
Address: 58 Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield North VIC 3161
Cha down under the stony gaze of the many life-sized terracotta warriors stationed between the elegantly appointed settings of the East Imperial.
You’re in for a refined experience when the trolleys roll out for daily Yum Cha. In this affair, the East Imperial has successfully balanced efficient trolley service and a relaxing meal in an ambient and authentic setting.
Address: 323 Rathdowne St, Carlton VIC 3053
Shark Fin Inn
A staple among restaurants dishing out the best Yum Cha in Melbourne, the Shark Fin Inn near the Parliament House has been serving Cantonese fare of the highest calibre since the ’80s. Its long-running position as neighbourhood favourite has held up against stiff competition over the years for a good reason; their tucker is top-notch.
Hell, the deep red façade, octagonal windows and enthralling fluorescent sign over the front door should be indication enough that you’re in for the real deal.
Address: 50 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Tao Tao House
Sometimes it’s the subtle details that take an otherwise standard dining experience and transcend it to the exceptional. At Tao Tao House, if the plush purple chairs, polite and attentive staff and lavish Chinese décor don’t do it for you, the delights hiding under the bamboo lids will.
Compared to other joints wielding the best Yum Cha in Melbourne, the selection is not the most extensive, but you can be sure what comes out of seasoned chef, and owner Jason Au’s kitchen is in a class of its own.
Address: 815 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122
FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants
The jury is still out on the best Yum Cha in Melbourne, but Shark Fin Inn and David come highly recommended by those who know.
Yum Cha (also known as Dim Sum) traditionally means to 'drink tea', but these days there's a whole lot more to it.
Growing to popularity in the 1970s in Australia, Yum Cha generally represents a lunch service where patrons dine communally on Chinese delicacies that are not ordered from the menu but instead wheeled around on a trolley.
Think barbeque pork buns, spring rolls and even chicken feet.
Literally 'drink tea', yum cha became popular in Australia in the early 1980s, first taking hold in the Chinatown establishments in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Cantonese tradition seems to have come to Australia via Hong Kong. Denis and his brother Keith owned the famous Chequers nightclub in Goulburn Street, Sydney.
Yum, cha is the Cantonese tradition of brunch involving Chinese tea and dim sum. The practice is popular in Cantonese-speaking regions, including Guangdong province, Guangxi province, Hong Kong, and Macau.
It is also carried out in other regions worldwide where there are overseas Cantonese communities.
The serviced tea is mainly black tea which warms the stomach and removes greasy of the dim sums, being conducive to digestion. The common ones are Oolong tea, Pu Erh tea and chrysanthemum tea. Some people also like to mix Pu Erh tea with Chrysanthemum to remove the inner heat.
Yum cha is very popular in Melbourne and a favourite here at OnlyMelbourne, so we searched for what Melbourne feels is its "best yum cha".
Yum Cha means 'to drink tea' and refers to the custom of eating tiny servings of different foods while sipping some well-brewed Chinese Tea.
Yum, cha generally involves small portions of steamed, pan-fried, and deep-fried dim sum dishes served in bamboo steamers, designed to be eaten communally and washed down with tea.
As with anything food related, everyone has an opinion. Opinions vary. Unsurprisingly suburban yum cha rates well. If it doesn't 'strictly' do yum cha, it doesn't rate.