The best Chinese in Sydney? Which province? Which meal? Which of the city's several different Chinatowns? Ask that question of a Sydney chef, though, and you can lay a pretty safe bet they'll say Golden Century (393- 399 Sussex St, Sydney, 02 9212 3901). The fact that this giant landmark is open till 4am every single day counts for a great deal, and offering BYO and a killer wine list to boot also doesn't hurt. (It also has a glossier sister restaurant at the casino: The Century, The Star, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont, 02 9566 2328).
Perhaps you'd like your Cantonese food infused with indigenous ingredients? At Billy Kwong (1/28 Macleay St, Potts Point, 02 9332 3300, billykwong.com.au), Kylie Kwong has the answers. How about luxe dim sum and flash-the-cash Canto with great wine? If foie gras on the prawn toast and grand cru Burgundy sold by the glass sounds like your kind of lazy-Susan action, Mr Wong (3 Bridge St, Sydney, 02 9240 3000, merivale.com.au) is going to make you very happy. For a similar take on food but in a more casual, fancied-up pub setting, hit Queen Chow in its original Enmore Road location (167 Enmore Rd, Enmore, 02 9240 3000, merivale.com.au). Or, for something that mines more Chinese-Australia nostalgia, check out the new Manly Wharf spin-off (22-23 East Esplanade, Manly, 02 9114 7341.)
Back in the city but still inthe land of high-end production values, Neil Perry's Spice Temple (10 Bligh St, 02 8078 1888, spicetemple.com.au) presents a slick take on China's fierier cuisines (those of Sichuan, Hunan, Yunnan and Shaanxi among them) in a glam basement setting. For more hot-and-numbing fun, hit Dainty Sichuan (Shop 10/19b, World Square, 644 George St, Sydney) for a noodle-focused version of the famed Melbourne restaurant or Red Chilli (Level 1, 8 Dixon St, Sydney, 02 9211 8122) for a broader look at the canon.
For Shaanxi in the city, Seabay Kitchen (143a King St, Sydney) ticks the rou jia mo, liangpi, and other Xi'an boxes. If you want to pull close focus on Silk Road-style noodles, hop to Xi'an Biang Biang (1 Dixon St, Haymarket). Chairman Mao (189 Anzac Pde, Kensington) flies the red flag for Hunan, Spring (215a, Thomas St, Haymarket, 02 9280 4537) for Yunnan, and Wei Long (Shop 330, 289-295 Sussex St, Sydney, 02 9283 3570) for Hakka.
Some Chinese (and, yes, Taiwanese) chains of note: soup-bun specialist Din Tai Fung has several branches (the shop at Central Park might be the most attractive: Level 2, 28 Broadway, Chippendale), we like Mr Meng (Market City, 9/13 Hay St, Haymarket) for Chongqing noodle soup, and we brave the queues at Hot Star (the branch at 96 Liverpool St, Sydney is our pick) stalls for Taipei night-market-style "large fried chicken".