It’s not exactly hard to find some quality Asian eats around Melbourne, and for that, we are so, so grateful. But everyone knows that when that dumpling craving hits, Chinatown is the place to go. However, with all its bright lights and bustling energy, it can also be a bit overwhelming.
When it comes to Chinatown, you can help but think about the delicious dumplings and mouth-watering yum cha lunch. Chinatown in Melbourne is home to a wide array of traditional Chinese and Asian restaurants. Visitors are invited to sample the very best authentic Chinese and Asian food right here in the city. In addition, the area also features a range of traditional bars and tea shops.
Many visitors often stop by to check out the unique sculptures and grand arches. Those interested in taking in a bit of history can take a tour to explore the area’s oldest establishments, including 19th-century buildings and museums.
Experience Melbourne’s vibrant nightlife as the sun goes down. Enjoy breathtaking scenes of the illuminating lanterns, neon lights and traditional Chinese lamps beneath the streetlights of Chinatown.
Never fear. We’ve sampled our way around to create the ultimate guide to this oasis of Asian deliciousness. It was our pleasure, truly.
Top 4 Restaurant In Chinatown Melbourne
It is believed that Chinese immigrants moved here during the gold rush days in the 1850s. Today, Chinatown is considered to be the longest continuous Chinese settlement outside of China itself.
Here are our top Asian restaurant eats in Chinatown Melbourne (not necessarily in order of preference).
Shandong MaMa - 200 Bourke St Mid City Arcade
Shandong Mama is an exciting addition to the Melbourne culinary scene in Mid City Arcade and can claim the best dumplings in Melbourne. Mama is a retired ex-accountant from China who spent years cooking for friends in her social circle in Shandong Province. She dared to start this homely restaurant with her delightful family here in Melbourne.
Friends and relatives are part of the scene. Mama has a passion for healthy, delicate cuisine. It's exciting to see a Shandong Restaurant (one of the eight major Chinese cuisines) in Melbourne.
Mama is particular about the process and having the best ingredients.
You may find her at Footscray or Springvale markets sourcing the finest ingredients for her dumplings. The fish dumplings include expensive mackerel in the filling, for example, handpicked by Mama.
Mama is not keen to use electric kitchen tools to stir the dumpling mixture, but she throws her shoulder into every batch. These dumplings have the perfect (thin) casing, exciting fillings and broth. There is more imagination here than in most other dumpling houses in this city.
For example, the Prawn, Black Fungus and Chives Dumplings are delectably filled with large chunks of prawns with chopped chives and black fungus, a small amount of mince for texture and flavour, wrapped in thin dumpling skin in-house.
Mama uses the highest quality prawns in these dumplings, not shrimps. Being from the coastal city of Yan Thai in Shandong Province, Mama has an affinity with the sea and loves to cook seafood.
The Fish Dumplings consisted of fresh mackerel fillet mixed by hand with coriander ginger and chives into a mousse-textured filling, wrapped in homemade thin dumpling skin. The dumpling holds together well and is tasty without being overpowering. This is a delicate dumpling.
The Pork and Cabbage Dumplings also have spring onions, ginger and a dash of dried shrimps for a great dumpling.
When you think you've just had some great dumplings, the Melbourne Dumpling, it's Mama's nod to multiculturalism in Melbourne. This baby sings! I managed to catch an aftertaste of the lemon rind, and it was wonderful.
Shandong Mama has taken all before it in Melbourne's best dumplings and is a value for money champion. They've won awards and expanded with a new outlet in Centre Place. Having been to Shandong Mama since the humble opening, we've been tracking them since - and the quality continues to resonate.
The story of Mama Wang coming from the Shandong Province of China to bring her expertise to Melbourne is compelling. With family alongside her, Mama is unstoppable. When you think you know the dumpling scene well, you get a revelation at Shandong Mama at how good it can be. This restaurant serves up dumplings not found anywhere else in Melbourne. And the dumpling range is extensive.
We visited Shandong Mama on a Sunday afternoon, and the place was pumping. Naturally, we ordered noodles, but we have enjoyed many other dishes on previous visits. Dumpling kings they are, but not just dumplings. Something as simple as Beef Noodles (above) is the most sublime dish with home-cooked noodles and quality meat cuts (Mama doesn't compromise), as well as great crispy vegetables and Moorish sauce. Portions are generous too.
How about a rustic noodle signature dish called DARYL (great name) with chicken and vegetables featuring mushrooms in this thick broth? Fresh quality ingredients and steaming goodness. So rewarding.
We indulged in the famous Pan-fried pork dumplings with dill, shrimp, ginger and spring onion. The dumplings here are considered by The World Loves Melbourne as the best in this city for the excellence of the skin, the right amount of crispiness, and, importantly, the quality of the filling.
The Fish Mackerel dumplings (above) are possibly the best in the world - and we're serious! A creamy mousse-like texture from the lux Mackerel (expensive ingredient) dumplings.
Not to mention Treasure tea with its mysterious ingredients.
Shandong Mama continues to enthral with its delicious Chinese cuisine. We conclude that Shandong Mama has not diminished in quality but is going from strength to strength. The recent advent of Shandong Mama Mini in Centre Place emphasises dumplings, and craft beer is sensational for city workers.
Filmmaker Colin is part of the crew, and his high-quality clips of Mama making dumplings appear at the restaurant's front for passers-by to see.
Given the quality, the prices are reasonable and accessible for students.
We highly recommend Shandong Mama as the highest quality dumplings and a homely ambience with passionate owners.
Longrain - 40-44 Little Bourke St
Longrain is an impressive Thai restaurant that pleases with its sexy fit out, high calibre cuisine and exceptional service. It brings fine dining to the Chinatown precinct. Longrain was an impromptu venue to catch up with fellow members of The TV Dinners new wave band that thrilled audiences in the 1980s.
The lads were in town from Adelaide to see the resurgent Sunnyboys (the TV Dinners once supported) at the Corner Hotel in Richmond. As new wave rockers, we were into driving guitar, seedy venues and loads of anarchy... We looked to bands like The Clash, The Buzzcocks and The Jam for inspiration.
The anarchists are now lawyers and professionals but still love to rock out... We were also joined by a Melbourne filmmaker. Crazy stories of rock and roll and filmmaking over sophisticated Thai dinner.
Longrain always delivers in terms of fresh, Asian cuisine and a killer ambience. The Sashimi of Kingfish, caramelised cashew nut Nahm Jim, trout roe, micro herbs with a ton of heat went surprisingly well with the 2013 Kir Yianni Petra.
The Kir Yianni Petra matched all the Asian dishes we enjoyed at Longrain.
The World Loves Melbourne noted the solid number of diners at Longrain on a lazy weeknight... Here we have Longrain in its element. How can you come to Longrain and not have some of the Eggnet? It was a flavour explosion of Filled agent, prawns, peanuts, caramelised coconut, cucumber relish.
The Prawn salad, mint, chilli, lime and roasted rice matched perfectly to the 2013 Kir Yianni Petra. This was the designed match for the evening, as the strong flavours of the salad matched with the Kir Yianni Petra - low in alcohol and higher in acid.
Longrain is a cool place to connect with exposed brick, creative artwork, eclectic lighting and timber floors.
The oysters at Longrain were a hit with Freshly shucked oyster, red chilli Nahm Jim, coriander and lime... We loved the Thai influences.
Another hit at Longrain is the Betel leaf, either with smoked trout, mint, peanuts, chilli paste or with pomelo, mint, green papaya, toasted coconut.
The pork skewers at Longrain were also tasty with the right amount of spice.
The TV Dinners were known for hits such as You Got It (profound lyrics of "she's my nighttime girl with long black hair, who's always with me, cause she doesn't go anywhere...") and Avon Lady (Avon Lady - if you don't come back I'll join the navy)... Entertaining and energetic with raw emotion and passion. I was playing many venues and the odd crazy party. Some of the live venues we played have now been replaced with apartment blocks.
Other courses were ordered at Longrain, but I had to leave... I intend to return soon for the Duck salad, famous Eggnet and the curries. The Sunnyboys went on to smash it at the Corner Hotel and are now playing gigs over the summer in Melbourne.
Longrain continues to rock on as an iconic and fine dining sensation in Little Bourke St. I'm a happy man.
Mr Ramen San - 200 Bourke St Mid City Arcade
Ramen lovers! Mr Ramen San is a superb Ramen house located in Mid City Arcade with several points of difference, including the use of local and organic ingredients and exacting skilful cooking processes.
Come here for some of the best ramens in Melbourne with the owner and Head Chef Roystan trained under Japanese Ramen masters and has worked in several high profile restaurants. With a trend to healthier eating, Ramen is known for its health properties, including claims of being good for the bones and joints. Service is super friendly, with young staff welcoming you as you enter the restaurant and engaging and attentive throughout.
An attraction at Mr Ramen San is the daily house-made noodles made fresh for the Ramen dishes. The noodles themselves are amazing, and what is even better is that Mr Ramen San will give you extra noodles for free (most other places will charge you). You won't leave hungry! And the value here is excellent, with high-quality Ramen below $14 in most cases.
The Tonkotsu broth has traditional flavours and is cooked over 10 hours to maximise the flavours. The kitchen staff work hard, stirring the broth for about 4-5 hours a day! They say it's all about the broth, and the consistency of the broth at Mr Ramen San is first class.
Furthermore, you can choose from different types of soup for your dishes (not every restaurant offers this!). You can "build your own" Ramen if you like starting with choosing your soup base.
Mr Ramen San has gathered a reputation for its signature Tonkotsu Chashu Ramen, featuring Roast pork, leeks, spring onion, bamboo shoot, wood ear mushroom, seaweed and a seasoned egg.
The key is in the cloudy white broth pictured above; this thick cloudy broth is the result of boiling pork bones and collagen over high heat for the 10-hour cooking process, in which it fuses to produce a hearty pork flavour and a creamy consistency! Office workers, you need this at your lunchtime!
Or try the Beef Miso Ramen featuring Beef cooked with miso, spring onion, bamboo shoot, corn, beansprout, seaweed and a seasoned egg. By the way, eggs are cooked perfectly, slightly runny in the middle.
For vegetarians, the Vegetarian Tofu Ramen is a popular choice, featuring Tofu, spring onion, bean sprout, corn, seaweed and a seasoned egg.
Grab a Sapporo Japanese beer from the fridge, perfect with your Ramen dish.
The Seafood Ramen is a winner featuring large succulent prawns and clams, spring onion, beansprout, corn, fish cake, seaweed and a seasoned egg. Mr Ramen San is easily accessible either off Bourke Street or Little Bourke Street. Get on it!
Gingerboy - Crossley St CBD
Gingerboy is a popular restaurant featuring acclaimed chef Teague Ezard that brings modern Asian flavours and cuisine to Melbourne. Here you will find inventiveness, freshness and flair with a sophisticated ambience.
I am writing this article after visiting some months ago, but I was highly impressed (and intend to visit again soon for an update). Gingerboy is one of the best restaurants in Chinatown for sure and is the favourite of many of my foodie friends when it comes to Asian flavours with finesse (if I can be so general).
Gingerboy Instagram. Gingerboy is not a filthy restaurant in Chinatown, but a modern upmarket fit-out makes it the place for your date, as well as for general dining. The bamboo ceiling catches the eye, as do the red themes and romantic lighting. Come here for an intimate lunch or dinner; while I was at Gingerboy, I spotted several couples seemingly in locked engagement.
Gingerboy serves up some delectable Braised duck spring rolls. My visit for lunch included spring rolls and dumplings - simple, I know, but I intend to return soon.
Some time ago, I enjoyed Wagyu dumplings; I see the menu has changed, and the prawn and ginger dumplings look amazing. They are ever-evolving. We enjoyed the famous Red Duck dish, which boasts perfectly cooked duck and a slight "kick" of spice.
Gingerboy offers choice; start with Snack and street food and then move on to larger Shared dishes. Street dishes include salt and pepper oysters, shredded iceberg and prik nam pla (3 pieces) or try son in law eggs, chilli jam and Asian herbs (3 pieces), or even prawn and ginger dumplings, peanut chilli soy (3 pieces).
Also, tempting is the seared Hervey bay scallops, edamame puree, black bean dressing (3 pieces) and the grilled wagyu in many leaves, sour chilli vinegar (3 pieces).
Sesame crusted swordfish tataki, avocado, garlic chips, shiso-wasabi dressing also feature roast pork belly, steamed buns, pickled cucumber, chilli sauce (3 pieces), and hot and sour smoked ocean trout, banana blossom salad, roasted shrimp dressing.
Tempting is the salt and pepper chicken spare ribs, hot tamarind sauce, and the tempura chilli salt cuttlefish, lemon and roasted sesame.
Also, check out the crying tiger beef salad, roasted rice, cherry tomato, young coconut and coriander, the steamed pork and garlic chive dumplings, with Szechuan-chilli dressing (3 pieces), as well as braised duck spring rolls, spiced hoisin dressing (3 pieces).
An attractive option is sticky tamarind pork, lettuce cups and crispy shallots.
FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants
However, in the 1960s, in a spirit of nostalgia and inspired by the tourist dollars that were being made in San Francisco's Chinatown, Chinatown entrepreneur, and (from 1969) City Councilor David Neng-Hsiang Wang persuaded the Melbourne City Council to embark on a radical redevelopment of the Little Bourke Street area.
Chinatowns as iconic enclaves exist in several Australian cities. Among them, Melbourne Chinatown is the oldest, which dates back to the gold rush in the 1850s. Early Chinese migrants settled along Little Bourke Street on the city's outskirts, which served as a staging post on their journey to goldfields.
Melbourne's Chinatown has a long and illustrious history. It was established during the Victorian gold rush in 1851 when Chinese prospectors came to Australia for the gold rush in search of gold.
It is notable as the oldest Chinatown in Australia, the oldest continuous Chinese settlement in Australia, and the longest continuously running Chinatown outside Asia. Suburban Chinese communities, of mostly Cantonese culture, are in Doncaster, Box Hill, Springvale and Glen Waverley.
A hard reality is that many restaurants fail during their first year, frequently due to a lack of planning. But that doesn't mean your food-service business has to be an extremely complex operation. It's a lucrative business. But there are a thousand moving parts, and you need to be knowledgeable about all of them.”
Everywhere You Need To Eat In Melbourne’s Chinatown
GO Noodle House
When you’re ready for a hit of traditional Malaysian cuisine (us, always), head straight to Go Noodle House. Alright, it’s technically on the cusp of Chinatown, but we think once you try their tasty dishes,,, you’ll let it slide.
A popular noodle chain with over 30 locations in south-east Asia, this is one restaurant that knows what it’s doing. Nab yourself a table, picky your soup, choose your noodle (handmade), add in any extras, and you’re on your way to a very satisfied stomach. (For the big kids, they recommend you add a shot of rice wine to your soup for an added kick).
For those feeling super hungry (or ambitious), here’s a challenge for you: if you can finish a five-kilogram bowl of noodle soup in 30 minutes, the dish is free. That’s almost 3.5 kilos of meat and noodles alone. Good luck.
Where: 195 Exhibition Street
Would it even be a guide to Chinatown if Flower Drum didn’t get a mention? This place is a Melbourne Institution, offering up refined, delicate Cantonese fine dining. This isn’t the place you go with your mates in between study sessions. This is the place you come to when you graduate. You’ve earned it.
Expect all the classics, from hot and sour soup to a generous dim sum selection. And a whole suckling pig (two days notice required).
Where: 17 Market Lane
The Dessert Kitchen
It’s time for something sweet to round it all out. And really, why would you go anywhere other than Dessert Kitchen? Get your Instagram ready because these offerings look almost too good to eat. Almost.
Treat yourself to a parfait with green tea syrup, mini rice balls, red bean and warabimochi, or split a Taiwan style shaved ice. Even better? Go for one of their signature desserts. We’re picking the ‘Purple in Love’, a mix of Kyoho grape seaweed balls, shaved ice, mini rice balls and taro mochi ice cream.
Where: 105 Lt Bourke Street
Shark Fin House
A Chinatown classic, Shark Fin House is the place to go to get your yum cha fix. Feeding hungry Melburnians since 1980, it’s a well-refined art at this point.
Shark Fin House has got all your classics, from San Choi Bao to supreme Peking Duck. Just remember to pace yourself. Yum, cha is a marathon, not a sprint. Let the food coma begin.
Where: 131 Lt Bourke Street
When you need your dumpling fix, stat, this is the place to be. Don’t let the queues fool you—this place moves fast. The bustle at this double-story gem doesn’t stop, and never will you go home hungry.
This isn’t about fine-dining. This is about getting fifteen dumplings for under ten bucks delivered at the drop of a hat.
Where: 112 Little Bourke Street