The Best Chinese Restaurants in Sydney

Updated 2 months ago


Chinese cuisine is as diverse as its many ethnic groups, languages and environments. Every province has its own traditions – and sometimes the dishes are so niche, they’re only found in one district of one particular city.

Historically, most of Sydney’s Chinese restaurants were dominated by one of those traditions – Cantonese food – because most Chinese immigrants came from Hong Kong and nearby Cantonese-speaking areas. Now, it’s a completely different story. All over Sydney you can find the wheat-heavy traditions of west China, the spice of Hunan, and the sour and numbing sensations of Sichuan.

At the same time, a new generation of modern Chinese restaurants has emerged, some mixing progressive wine lists and fine-dining service with traditional Chinese flavours, others exploring what Chinese food means in an Australian context.

This guide provides a mix of all of these places: from high-end concepts and fresh-from-the-tank seafood restaurants to $15 noodle haunts and family-run spots serving dishes you can’t find anywhere else in Sydney.

  • The upmarket sequel to legendary Sydney Cantonese restaurant Golden Century. It’s named after its now-closed sibling’s most famous dish, the XO pippies, which you can absolutely order here. Plus, Cantonese-style roasted meats, live seafood and outstanding wines from the tome-like list. There’s also a daily yum cha service from midday.

  • The elegant sequel to Sydney's legendary Hunanese restaurant. The signature smoked pork – a dish that counts Neil Perry and Matt Moran among its fans – is on the menu here.

  • Moody jazz, heavy wooden beams and a bank of barbeque ducks in the old Tank nightclub space. A modern Shanghai-style dumpling den from Dan Hong and Merivale.

  • One of Sydney’s yum cha kings. This slamming Cantonese favourite can be a tad expensive if you're dining with a smaller group – but the premium is warranted. The quality of food, speed of service and deep history is undeniable.

  • Roast goose, “fried milk”, and fish dumplings – this is a rare opportunity to try a niche cuisine from south-east China.

  • A cornerstone of south-west Sydney’s Cantonese-speaking community. Its suited-up service and low-key decor have remained unchanged since 1980. And you can expect the same consistency from the extensive menu. Equally primed for one-person lunch or a banquet for many.

  • Huge bowls of handmade thick-cut noodles for a little over $12. There’s also several pages-worth of dishes you’d typically find in China’s Shaanxi Province.

  • More than 15 years on, this moody underground restaurant remains one of the best places in town to try the cuisines of China's Yunnan, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. While Sichuan food is king here, the entire menu is stylish, vibrant and goes well with cocktails inspired by the Chinese zodiac.

  • An institution among Laksa addicts. Today the name has two locations under its banner, but the original, now-closed Hunter Street shop was ladling bowls of piping hot laksa all the way back in 1987 – long before most of the CBD’s other Asian restaurants joined the party.

  • One of the few places in the centre of town where you can try Nanjing specialties. If you’re into duck, this is the spot for you.

  • Taste of Tang’s extensive gluten-free menu sets it apart. But otherwise, this family-run spot has been a hotspot for comforting Malay- and Australian-Chinese classics since 1985.

  • In the old Golden Century site, this 400-seat Cantonese diner is ushering in a new era for Chinatown. The seafood tanks are full, the yum cha trolleys are back in action and late-night dining runs until 3am.

  • A lone, late-night Cantonese star among Ashfield’s strip of Shanghai dumpling dealers. Some say it goes head-to-head with Golden Century on quality and price.

  • Redbird isn’t just Redfern’s best Chinese restaurant. It’s one of the best restaurants in the suburb, hands down. Familiar (and not-so-familiar) provincial Chinese flavours are backed up by a versatile wine list spanning 150-odd bottles.

  • Bow down to the dumpling masters. Or just watch them through the glass, hand-crafting those world-class xiao long bao in the kitchen.

  • A wildly popular Chinese chain in the middle of the CBD, repping the spicy flavours of Sichuan. The tome of a menu here is telling of the huge portions you get here.

  • Merivale’s waterside Cantonese joint, complete with live seafood tank, oyster bar and dim sum. The views across the water make for an ideal setting year-round.

  • Exceptional dim sum with glistening, seafood-stuffed dumplings and saucy pork ribs. Completed by a homely RSL vibe, this is the yum cha king of the south-west.

  • Sleek and informal Asian dining at the Cowper Street Wharf. The menu is a knock-out homage to the best of Chinese and south-east Asian cuisines. Try tenured dishes such as tea-smoked duck with tamarind and plum, or the pork belly with chilli caramel and *nam pla phrik* (sweet-and-sour sauce). White tablecloths and city skylines included.

  • Fresh-out-of-the tank seafood banquets and stellar crispy-skin pigeon. This is Cantonese food at its best, alive and well in Beverly Hills.

  • A swish and enormous restaurant with an exceptional yum cha service. It’s a contender for best yum cha in the CBD, but it's also one of the newest in the pack.

  • The Lotus Group really stepped it up a notch with this lavish Cantonese diner. Come for refined dishes from Guangzhou and Hong Kong and a sweeping 30-seat balcony overlooking the harbour.

  • Dumplings and classic Chinese dishes with a modern Australian twist are on the menu at the Lotus Group’s CBD diner. Peking Duck served tableside is a highlight at this stylish 270-seat venue.

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  • Inspired by Chinatown neighbourhoods around the world, this sumptuous diner offers a “secret deep-fried ice-cream”, vintage Chinese teas, wines you can’t find anywhere else in Sydney, and baijiu by the glass.

  • Crazy amounts of lobster, mud crabs, whole fish and platters of pippies weigh down the tables here. Seasonal Cantonese specialties are available too, but believe us – it’s all about the seafood banquet.

  • A hoemy diner that offers a rare chance to try genuine Uyghur cuisine. The menu blends traditions from both Central Asia to the west and Chinese cuisines from the east.

  • The flagship location of a string of restaurants specialising in cuisine from north-east China. Tackle a hotpot or go for a platter of smoked pork with Chinese corn bread.

  • Grapes on the ceiling. But also dumplings, hand-pulled noodles and BYO booze on the footpath outside. This beloved Haymarket joint is inspired by the cuisine of north-western China.

  • The CBD location for this polished dumpling chain channels a 1930s Shanghai vibe, complete with red lanterns and a theatre where chefs work an assembly line of meat-rolling, wrapping and folding.

  • A little-known spot with some of the best Peking duck around. Here, they carve the duck at your table and – for a bit of extra cash – will batter and fry the last morsels of meat for you once you’re done eating.

  • A Chinese-Macanese hotpot restaurant aiming to elevate the steamboat experience. You can find this opulent eatery in Haymarket’s 1909 dining precinct.