Chinese dining options in Australia run the gamut from Chinatown classics to contemporary interpretations with native ingredients for local flavour.
The best Chinese restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne can be divided into two broad groups: those where you can reliably expect the majority of the waiters to speak Chinese and those where English is more likely to be the language spoken by most of the staff.
In either case, Melbourne landmark Flower Drum (17 Market Ln, Melbourne, Vic, 03 9662 3655) is considered the benchmark - a haven of classic Cantonese refinement. Contrast it with Dainty Sichuan (176 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, Vic, 03 9078 1686), an eatery where the bold nature of its Sichuan offerings are the main attraction. For your steamed dumpling fix, consider Hutong (14-16 Market Ln, Melbourne, Vic, 03 9650 8128) - our favourite place to eat wontons in Chinatown.
For something more modern, the hot new property in Melbourne is Lee Ho Fook (11-15 Duckboard Pl, Melbourne, Vic, 03 9077 6261). It takes its name from a lyric in an American pop song, but young chef Victor Liong is serious about making his food taste great.
Rockpool chef Neil Perry, meanwhile, has a Spice Temple restaurant in both cities (Crown Towers Melbourne, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank, Vic, 03 8679 1888; and 10 Bligh St, Sydney, NSW, 02 8078 1888), where he specialises in showcasing the foods of Hunan, Sichuan, Yunnan and Xinjiang in darkly glamorous basement spaces.
In the Chinese-speaking camp in Sydney, it's hard to go past Golden Century (393-399 Sussex St, Sydney, NSW, 02 9281 1598). It has a sister eatery at the Star casino that's more polished and modern, but the Chinatown original, which is open till 3am every night, is still the city's favourite Cantonese eatery.
On the English-speaking side, the hottest destinations in town are Billy Kwong (1/28 Macleay St, Elizabeth Bay, NSW, 02 9332 3300), where native Australian ingredients give a twist to the contemporary Cantonese menu, and Mr Wong (3 Bridge Ln, Sydney, NSW, 02 9240 3000), a luxe, sprawling contemporary Hong Kong-style dining palace with an award-winning wine list.