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For more than 150 years Chinese cooks have made Australia a vastly more interesting place to eat, and today Chinese cuisine contributes as much (or more) to our food identity as Italian or French cooking. With the Lunar New Year upon us, we've picked out some of our favourite eateries from around the country.
Neil Perry's sultry basement fine-diner Spice Temple and powerhouse Mr Wong remain the front-runners for Sydney's fancier Chinese plates. Golden Century and its glossier Star casino sister The Century lead the way for Cantonese. Billy Kwong, meanwhile, explores the region's cuisine with the help of native Australian ingredients. Two Sticks (694 George St, Haymarket) flies the flag for Yunnan province while Chairman Mao (189 Anzac Pde, Kensington, 02 9697 9189) represents Hunan. For first-class Fujian look no further than Dixon Street favourite Three Lanes and Seven Alleys. Sichuan fans, on the other hand, should head to Red Chilli or Spicy Sichuan (the city branch is our favourite: 2 Cunningham St, Haymarket, 02 9221 4222) where spice rules the roost. Fisherman's Wharf and Marigold are favoured dumpling destinations, while street-side Hot Star does Taiwanese-style fried chicken to a tee. At Bar H, Hamish Ingham combines the cuisines of China and Japan with sharp drinks and a buzzy vibe.
Fiery food plus a tick of approval from many a visiting chef has seen Dainty Sichuan expand to the CBD and Box Hill to feed an ever-growing crowd of fans. It's a similar case with Hutong, purveyors of arguably the best xiao long bao in town. Its siblings include the upmarket Man Tong Kitchen and the fun-loving China Red. Those after designer flair might try Neil Perry's Spice Temple, David's or Lau's Family Kitchen (4 Acland St, St Kilda, 03 8598 9880), while fans of old-school glamour should set the GPS for Flower Drum or Choi's. Boisterous, Hong Kong-style fun can be had at Pacific Seafood BBQ House (210 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, 03 9826 3838), while yum cha fans queue at Crystal Jade (154 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, 03 9639 2633).
In Adelaide, Park Lok is your go-to for Cantonese, while From Orient flies the flag for Sichuan. Got yum cha on the agenda? Star House (1/39 Gouger St, Adelaide, 08 8221 6303) sets the benchmark in the dumpling department. If Peking duck's more your thing, though, head to Ming's Palace (157-159 Gouger St, Adelaide, 08 8231 9970) where the bird reigns supreme, or dig into what might be the country's best Chiu Chow food at longstanding favourites T Chow and Ying Chow (114 Gouger St, Adelaide, 08 8211 7998).
Chilli takes the forefront at suburban favourite Sichuan Bang Bang - old Chinese takeaway digs are worth a visit alone. For top-end trolley action check out New Shanghai or Bamboo Basket where steam baskets are all the go. Madame Wu's offering is more pan Asian than straight Chinese, but the dumplings and roast duck are legit. For regional Chinese eats with a side of fun, head to Happy Boy where the likes of fish-fragrant eggplant, dan dan noodles and Chongqing chicken are paired with chic industrial surrounds.
It's all about the regional flavours in Perth. Red Chilli Szechuan Restaurant (865 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park, 08 6161 2898) is your destination for Sichuan with its impressive line-up of spicy, numbing and tingling offerings. MOM Dumpling House specialises in food of the north-eastern variety and, as the name suggests, damn fine dumplings. For the best of the barbecued end of the spectrum head to Hong Kong BBQ House (76 Francis St, Northbridge, 08 9228 3968), or dig in to dim sum instead at Regal on Roe. An's Kitchen (305 William St, Northbridge, 08 9227 9667) focuses on eats from the north, while the newly renovated University Asian Restaurant (88 Broadway, Nedlands, 08 9389 1168) takes its cues from Canton.
Chairman and Yip has led the way for Cantonese fusion in our nation's capital for more than 20 years. Sister restaurant Malamay, on the other hand, puts the spotlight on Sichuan through the likes of prawns with three-chilli relish and hand-cut noodles, and shredded lamb shoulder with cumin and salted chilli. Akiba, while not strictly Chinese, explores aspects of the cuisine through its dim sum and barbecue offerings.
Me Wah is your go-to for top Chinese in Tassie. The menu gives a nod to 1970s suburban classics, with several dishes in the chicken and sweetcorn soup and sweet and sour pork genre. But look beyond them and there are real treasures - the dumpling dishes, braised eggplant with pickled radishes, and chicken with shredded ginger and spring onion chief among them. Top that off with sharp service, a superior wine list and killer weekend yum cha and you've got a winner.
This article was updated in February, 2015.
Read more: our favourite Chinese recipes.
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