The Local’s Guide to Sydney’s Chinatown Cuisine

portrait of hotel concierge
10 minutes Feb 5th, 2021
Red lanterns hanging in Sydney's Chinatown

While Sydney’s Chinatown is a perfect place to go and grab a quick meal, catch up with a friend or have a meeting with a client or colleague, you could just as easily spend the night walking around thinking “how on earth do I choose a place to eat?” With such a myriad of options you’d be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the choice.

Luckily for you, we’ve done the rounds through Chinatown and have compiled the following list of our favourite restaurants. Now you can skip the search and make a beeline straight for the best plate of dumplings, bowl of noodles or fresh seafood.

For The Dumpling Lover

Fresh dumplings in steamer with soy and chilli sauce

While Chinese food, and Asian food at large includes so many more types of meals than one could ever try, few satisfy quite like a great plate of dumplings. Proof of this is in the number of dumpling restaurants in Chinatown, but despite all looking more or less the same, you know as well as we do that not all dumplings are created equal!

Din Tai Fung (world square) takes the top spot here as far as we’re concerned. The Pork Dumplings (Xiao Long Baos) thin wrapper and satisfyingly juicy pork filling really lives up to the hype. Din Tai Fung has a whole menu of delicious looking Chinese meals, but we would forgive you for just ordering a few plates of dumplings to share, which let’s be honest is why you’re there.

In the Mood for Noodles

Bowl of ramen with chopsticks

If you’re in the mood for noodles, there are plenty of great choices! Again in World Square, you will find Dainty Sichuan Noodle Kitchen. Their signature dish is the Chongqing Spicy Noodle, but beware – this is not for the faint-hearted! The sauce is very spicy, containing plenty of chilli oil and Sichuan pepper. If this sounds a bit much, try the milder Stewed Chicken with Shitake Mushrooms.

Another great option is Mr Chen Beef Noodle in Haymarket. The chef at this hole in the wall style restaurant Gary Yuen boasts 41 years of experience cooking traditional Chinese food. The Signature Beef Noodle is your best bet here, which comes topped with radish, coriander and garlic. All this for less than $11 and you can’t go wrong.

The third restaurant of note is the creatively named Chinese Noodle Restaurant. This is a wonderful choice for lunch or a nice evening as you can sit out on the street and enjoy all the classic Chinese dishes you would expect, along with a few drinks with friends or family.

Yum Cha, Yum!

 Yum cha table with dumplings and steamed buns

If you’ve got a big group and are looking for a yum cha experience, The Eight would be your first port of call. With a vast space, The Eight is well equipped to fit in you and your extended family / work group / sports team. They serve up a variety of classic Chinese food, including everything you’d expect from any self respecting yum cha venue. Some highlights include the Wu Gok (Pork and Mushroom Dumplings cooked in Taro Batter) and the Crystal Prawn Dumplings.

It would be unfair to mention The Eight and not Marigold. You will find a similarly expansive Cantonese menu at Marigold, however the Sui Mai (Pork Dim Sim) stands out here. Both of these venues are well loved by locals, and depending on who you ask, you will receive an answer that one is so much better than the other. Honestly, we think they’re both fantastic, and we will let you make your mind up for yourself. Let the locals have their loyalty, you can enjoy the best of both worlds!

Fresh Exquisite Seafood

Boiled mud crab being taken out of pot

While there’s some fierce competition for best restaurants in Chinatown in the categories above, when it comes to seafood the real stand out is Golden Century. Since 1989, Golden Century has been serving up impressive and renowned seafood dishes to both the public and a gamut of celebrities and foodies alike.

The specialty dish, both in terms of flavour and wow factor, is the Whole Mud Crab. The juicy meat filled claws and delicate flavour are hard to pass up. If crab is not your thing, there’s a huge selection of other delicacies, including lobster, abalone and more types of fish than you could name. Although a seafood restaurant, the menu is vast and includes an array of beef, poultry, pork and vegetarian options.

Golden Century has been graced by the presence of celebrities, former US presidents and Princesses through the years, and while we cannot guarantee any big names will be there, we are confident the food will be fantastic.

Something a Little Different

Bowl of Rich Malaysian Curry

If Chinese just isn’t your thing, don’t despair! Despite being called Chinatown, there’s other options for those looking for something a bit different.

Notable entry in this category is Malaysian restaurant Mamak. You won’t find dumplings here, but rather an array of rich flavourful curries, rice dishes and stir-fried meat and seafood.

For those who’ve not had Malaysian food before, a great place to start is the Roti Canai. Your choice of six different types of roti, served with two different types of curries and spicy sambal sauce, Roti Canai is everything you want finger food to be.

If you’re a seasoned veteran of Malaysian food, or perhaps just want to dive headfirst into the best Malaysian cuisine has to offer, don’t pass up the Kari Kambing (Spicy Lamb Curry slow-cooked until tender) and some classic Satay Chicken or Beef skewers.

In House Favourites

Courtyars of Veriu Central contaiing Harry's Dumpling House

If you’re staying at Veriu Central and want to experience authentic Chinese food without having to hunt around, then you’re in luck! In fact you’re spoilt for choice, with two fantastic options right at your fingertips. Located within the building’s central courtyard you’ll find Harry’s Dumpling House, decorated halfway between a Hutong and the proverbial Chinese laundry. A great set up for a more casual affair, Harry’s Dumpling House is ideal for a quick solo dinner or post-work snack with friends.

Alternatively you can walk just around the corner to the original Harry’s, the much loved Harry’s Singapore Chilli Crab. It’ll be difficult to choose from the staggering 17 different ways Harry’s does Mud Crab, but we’d suggest you play it safe and go for the restaurant’s namesake, the Singapore Chilli Crab.

Given their proximity and reputation, it would be hard to pass up a meal at either of these restaurants, and we wouldn’t blame you if you skipped all the other places we’ve suggested so far and made a beeline straight for Harry’s.

Neon tiger sign at Harry's Dumpling Houe

It seems clear that “what is the best place to eat in Chinatown?” is a difficult question to answer! Given Chinatown is nestled between our Veriu Central and Veriu Broadway hotels in Sydney’s CBD, we’ve had plenty of time to go and assess the competition and hope that this guide proves useful. Whether you’re looking for cheap eats, or something more special, this guide gives you a snapshot of some of the best food available in Chinatown.

Whether you choose a restaurant from this list or not, our final hot tip is to look for the places with lines out the door. Sydney locals all have their opinion on what Chinatown restaurants reign supreme, so going where those in the know go is a safe bet!