The Best Restaurants in Chinatown Sydney

Updated 1 week ago

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Sydney’s Chinatown, loosely defined as the stretch between Liverpool Street and Market City, is the largest in Australia. The area is no longer strictly considered a Chinese enclave but a vibrant Asian precinct reflecting many cultures and cuisines.

Thousands of southern Chinese immigrants came to New South Wales during the 1850s gold rush, but the community here didn’t emerge in earnest until the 1920s. Racist attitudes of the day forced many Chinese people to seek work in the wholesale fruit and vegetable market on Hay Street. A wave of Chinese enterprises naturally followed, from kitchens to grocers and immigrant housing.

By the 1980s, attitudes had changed. The Chinese Garden of Friendship was created to symbolise the bond between Sydney and its Chinese sister city of Guangzhou (where many of Sydney’s early migrants came from), and Dixon Street was converted into a lively pedestrian mall to foster more tourism to the area. Bookended by traditional ceremonial gates, the mall is a punctuated by Cantonese seafood restaurants, Sichuan hotpot joints and homey diners specialising in lesser-seen Uygur cuisine from China’s north-west. Here’s where to find it all, plus a smattering of Japanese, Korean and other restaurants around Haymarket.

  • At Ho Jiak, owner and chef Jundah Khoo showcases family recipes from his childhood on the Malaysian island of Penang. Look for the brightly coloured window frames and striped awnings styled after a Penang streetscape. Also at Strathfield and Town Hall.

  • There are three things you absolutely must order at Nanjing Dumpling: duck, dumplings and flaky sesame rolls stuffed with pork and spring onion. They’re the specialty dishes of Nanjing, the historic riverside city just west of Shanghai.

  • This Malaysian favourite is all about roti: fluffy, hand-stretched bread served with sambal. It’s also doing classic curries such as rendang, and flame-grilled satay skewers of beef and chicken. If you don't get in before the rush, expect to queue for a while. But trust us, it’ll be worth it.

  • 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.

  • The home of the richest, most unctuous tonkotsu ramen in town. Owner Mori Higashida rips through 300 kilograms of fresh pork bones every day to make his soup, which has been hailed by Dan Hong as the “most hectic” in Australia.

  • The beloved Haymarket diner with grapes on the ceiling. But also – dumplings and hand-pulled noodles like you’d find in north-western China. BYO from one of the surrounding bottle shops and grab a table on the footpath outside.

  • A Long Chim alumnus is behind this 30-seat Chinatown restaurant, where you’ll find punchy takes on classic Thai street food and home-style cooking. Think deep-fried barramundi with mango salad, Phuket-style curry with tiger prawns and betel leaves, and a refreshing coconut ice-cream with roasted peanuts and candied pumpkin.

  • 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 youngest in the pack.

  • A super popular chain in the middle of town repping the spicy, numbing flavours of China’s Sichuan province. The lengthy menu is best conquered with a big crew in tow: portions are huge, and you’ll want to experience the full breadth of flavours, textures, carbs and soups on offer here.

  • A homey diner offering a rare chance to try genuine Uyghur cuisine, which blends culinary traditions from both Central Asia to the west and Chinese cuisines from the east.

  • A high-end restaurant chain serving Peking duck and north-eastern Chinese specialties you can’t find elsewhere. The lavish dining room alone is the worth the visit.

  • Set within Market City, this modern Korean barbeque joint is all about premium meats and soju to drink them with. Bring some mates, crowd your table with banchan (side dishes) and grill up a storm.

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  • A sleek restaurant by the host of the world’s biggest TV dating show. As it turns out, he’s a fiend for Sichuan-style braised meat, fiery noodle soups and classic dim sum.

  • A gigantic, futuristic hotpot joint – with robot staff who greet you bearing fruit and mints. There are also arcade games, jenga sets and a steam machine to get the smell of delicious, spicy pork-bone broth out of your clothes.

  • The emporium of Chinese delights that is Xi'an is the definition of no frills; a perfect storm of ancient menus, no-nonsense staff and an extensive selection of dishes around the $10 mark.

  • Dodee Paidang is regularly packed with Thai customers and the chilli-eating adventurers. Come for a huge range of noodle soups and northern-style street dishes.

  • A flash cocktail bar in a dingy Chinatown alley that comes with fried things on sticks, including … spaghetti.

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