Australia's best Chinese restaurants offer exquisite Chinese dining with Australia's finest produce.
By Ute Junker
Australia's favourite Chinese restaurants have elegant interiors and menus that reinvent old favourites with an intuitive, modern touch. In some cases, there's also the addition of native Australian ingredients.
Try some of Australia's tastiest Asian dishes
MR WONG, SYDNEY
There is nothing small scale about Mr Wong. Inspired by Hong Kong's grand Cantonese restaurants, Sydney restaurant mogul Justin Hemmes created this vast two-storey diner, which, in true Hemmes fashion, still manages to be sexy and stylish. The menu is equally super-sized, which is why so many people come here in groups; the more people you come with, the more dishes you can try. The delicately pleated dim sum are fabulous, as are the XO pippies (native clams) and salt and pepper mud crabs.
BILLY KWONG, SYDNEY
Chef Kylie Kwong teams Chinese flavours and Aussie bush tucker ingredients to create her distinctive cuisine at Billy Kwong. The hardy Outback saltbush plant adds a tangy flavour to her deep fried saltbush cakes. Equally appealing are her wallaby buns, filled with gamey shredded wallaby meat (a wallaby is the smaller cousin of a kangaroo) and served with a relish made with native plum. Kwong also has a penchant for insects, which appear regularly on the menu. Look out for the crickets that add crunch to her prawn dumplings; they're surprisingly delicious.
THE CHAIRMAN & YIP, CANBERRA
The Chairman & Yip has been a stalwart of the Canberra dining scene for years, with a never-fail menu that keeps locals coming back. The note-perfect renditions of classic dishes include the ever-popular Peking duck pancakes, which pack an umami punch courtesy of the smoky duck and mushroom filling. Take a chance on some of the more unusual dishes, such as the rich oxtail stew, slow cooked for 36 hours with port and spices.
FLOWER DRUM, MELBOURNE
Red carpets, lacquered wood, a nimble fleet of waiters: after more than three decades, the opulent Flower Drum is still at the top of its game. Commonly considered Melbourne's best Chinese restaurant, Flower Drum offers beautifully finessed classics – the egg white omelette, studded with lobster or crab, is exquisite – and more adventurous dishes, such as fried eggplant stuffed with pine nuts and walnuts, served on a bed of crisp enoki.
LEE HO FOOK, MELBOURNE
Tucked away in tiny Duckboard Place is Melbourne's most creative Chinese chef. At Lee Ho Fook, Victor Liong has built a reputation for taking Chinese classics in inventive new directions. His version of Sichuan beef comes as a tartare, teamed with puffed charred rice and pickled cucumber, wrapped in a sheet of nori and eaten like a taco. A shallot pancake topped with cream-filled mozzarella offers a Chinese take on a pizza.
From its plush carpet to the gold-edged plates and elegant trolleys, there's an air of luxury to Silks. The menu here features a range of "regular" dishes (try the lobster sang choy bow or the perfectly cooked barbecue duck with plum sauce), but there are also some eye-wateringly expensive dishes for special occasions, such as bird's nest chicken bouillon that costs almost AUD$200.
ME WAH, HOBART
Any chef will tell you that good food is all about good ingredients and at long-time Hobart stalwart, Me Wah, they use only the best. That means the simplest dishes on the menu can be spectacularly good. The local crayfish, given a gentle lift with the addition of ginger, spring onion and rice wine, is hard to beat. The handmade e-fu noodles, served in a seafood broth, are also recommended.
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