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Sydney’s best yum cha

Gather a crew and head to these delicious dim sum spots in Sydney. Bring your appetite.

By Ute Junker 

Few things are more enjoyable than a yum cha lunch, where fleets of trolleys deliver a never-ending selection of tasty treats direct to your table. Sydneysiders have enthusiastically adopted this Chinese tradition, with many outlets putting their own spin on the meal. Choose from sleek underground restaurants, good-value no-frills diners, seafood specialists and new-wave outlets offering creative takes on old favourites. 

Try the best yum cha in Sydney

Marigold, Chinatown

A Chinatown stalwart, Marigold serves up classic yum cha with all the trappings, including chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, Chinese paintings on the wall, tuxedoed waiters and trolley ladies in neat uniforms. The deliciously diverse menu ranges from fried radish cakes to pork knuckles. Be sure to order some lotus leaf-wrapped sticky rice, stuffed with a tasty medley of Chinese sausage, mushroom and chicken, and some pillowy steamed pork buns. Yum cha every day from 10am.

Spice Temple, Sydney CBD

It is not available on weekends, but that is about the only thing that we don’t love about Spice Temple’s yum cha. Chef Neil Perry’s restaurant teams seriously stylish interiors with a menu that avoids the standard Cantonese dishes in favour of regional specialties. There are delicate plates such as raw kingfish with black sesame, cucumbers and shallot oil, and heartier choices such as northern-style lamb and fennel dumplings. The dishes printed in red on the menu pack a serious chilli punch: if your tastebuds can take it, try the Hong Kong typhoon style fried squid, or the egg custard with spanner crab and XO sauce.

Fisherman's Wharf, Sydney Fish Markets

No surprises for guessing what the house specialty is at Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant. As you would expect from a restaurant that’s set within the Sydney Fish Markets, seafood is the smart choice here. There are plenty of tempting options, ranging from crunchy prawn and snow pea dumplings to soft eggplant topped with minced seafood, glazed in a garlic and ginger sauce. Add a few greens – perhaps the steamed Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce – round it out with some mango pancakes for dessert, and you have a fabulous feast. Yum cha is served daily.

Mr. Wong, Sydney CBD

Some restaurants stick to the classics, others like to mix it up. At Mr. Wong, Sydney’s most stylish Chinese restaurant, they do both. With an old-school Chinese dumpling master in charge, their finely pleated dumplings are considered by many to be the best in Sydney; what’s more, they are made to order. The scallop and prawn shumai and the wild mushroom dumplings are highly recommended. For something more playful, the cheeky foie gras prawn toast turns an old suburban stand-by into a mouthful of indulgence.  Yum cha on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am.

Palace Chinese Restaurant, Sydney CBD

Hidden away inside a city centre shopping arcade, this under-the-radar restaurant has earned a devoted following for its wide-ranging yum cha menu. From seafood sang choi bow to stir-fried salmon fillet with ginger and shallot, the Palace offers so many mouth-watering options, it is hard to know where to start. Don’t overlook the tried and true dishes: the shumai dumplings are superb, while the crispy skin and tender flesh on the roast duck reminds you why this dish is a classic. Yum cha every day.

Bodhi in the Park, Sydney CBD

Tucked in behind the Cook + Phillip Aquatic Centre and shaded by massive Moreton Bay fig trees, Bodhi in the Park is known for dishing up yum cha with a difference. Everything on the menu conforms to Buddhist vegan principles, so it is not just meat-free, but also made without garlic and onions. That doesn’t mean the meals are flavour-free, however: try the vegetarian dumplings stuffed with baby corn, peas, carrot, and tofu, or the herb-powered punch of Vietnamese tofu rice paper rolls, and you will see what we mean. Yum cha every day from 11am.

Tim Ho Wan, Sydney CBD and Chatswood

Don’t be surprised to find a queue outside any of the branches of Tim Ho Wan. There are two in the city centre and another in Chatswood, all based on the original Hong Kong outlet that famously became the cheapest restaurant ever to be awarded a Michelin star. The Sydney outlets stay true to the formula of good food at good value prices. The flaky spring rolls and the tender pork ribs in black bean sauce are popular, but the don’t-miss dish is the house specialty, the crusty, sugar-dusted barbecue pork buns.

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