While a fair distance away from the street food stalls of Shanghai and hawker centres of Singapore, dumplings have become as much of a Melbourne staple as avocado on toast.
Whether steamed or fried, wontons or bao buns, once the craving for these delicious little treats sets in there’s no other way to cure it than a trip to one of Melbourne’s best dumpling restaurants…
Where can you find the best dumplings in Melbourne?
The obvious first stop for the best dumplings in Melbourne is Chinatown in the CBD, however, don’t be afraid to also venture out into suburbs such as Box Hill and Prahan to find the city’s best Asian cuisine.
In this post, I’ve put together a more detailed breakdown of where to find the best dumplings in Melbourne…
Best dumplings in Melbourne CBD:
Din Tai Fung
Originating in 1972 as a small shop in Taiwan, Din Tai Fung quickly became so popular that their dumpling empire expanded across Asia, the United States, the UEA, UK and Australia, becoming the iconic world-class franchise it is today, almost 50 years later.
In 1993 The New York Times named the restaurant one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants and in 2010 Din Tai Fung’s Hong Kong Branch was even awarded one Michelin Star.
While the franchise originally set its routes in Australia with several outlets in Sydney, they finally brought their world-famous dumplings to Melbourne with its modern 235-seat restaurant above the upscale Emporium shopping centre in Melbourne CBD.
The restaurant is best known for its paper-thin 18-fold steamed soup dumplings, also known as xiaolongbao, a popular local dish in Chinese cities such as Wuxi and Shanghai.
Insider tip: Despite the restaurant’s large space, Melbourne’s branch of Din Tai Fung is so popular that it’s highly likely you’ll have to queue to get in. Try to arrive early to avoid waiting for too long and to make sure they don’t run out of anything on the menu.
An unsuspecting little spot hidden inside of the Mid City Shopping Arcade, ShanDong Mama is a casual family-run canteen style restaurant serving authentic cuisine from the Shandong province of China.
With its location just off of the main tourist street in Chinatown, the restaurant is frequented predominantly by locals who know that despite it’s less than impressive decor, ShanDong Mama is where you’ll find some of the best dumplings in Melbourne without the big queue.
The rustic home-made dumplings are just about as authentic and delicious as you’ll find in Melbourne, with Mama’s fragrant fish dumplings taking the crown as customer favourite.
Tim Ho Wan
Tim Ho Wan is another international franchise serving up some of Melbourne’s best dumplings.
Whilst not quite as old as Din Tai Fung above, this Chinese dim sum restaurant chain has still done pretty well for itself, originating in Hong Kong in 2009 then spreading across Asia, the USA and Australia.
Several of the chain’s Hong Kong restaurants have been awarded a Michelin Star and it has even become known as “the world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant”.
The Melbourne branch of the world-renowned chain can be found on Bourke St in Chinatown.
Tim Ho Wan is best known for its BBQ pork buns, made with a sweet, sticky char siu (barbecued pork) baked inside of fluffy dough, while their pork and prawn dumplings are another big hit.
Hu Tong Dumpling Bar is a casual dining establishment with its routes here in Melbourne and two venues in the city; CBD and Prahran.
The restaurant serves authentic cuisine from Shanghai and the surrounding region in eastern China and is particularly well known for its delicious xiaolongbao – steamed soup and pork dumplings.
There are also numerous other dumpling options on offer, ranging from the more traditional pork and prawn to flavours such as steamed crab or duck meat.
Hutong Dumpling Bar was awarded International Famous Restaurant for Chinese Cuisine by World Association of Chinese Cuisine in 2009.
Another great thing about Hu Tong is that you can watch the chefs making the Dim Sums from your table through the transparent glass which separates the kitchen and dining area.
Located in the heart of Chinatown, Shanghai Village is pretty much always extremely crowded and noisy, and its basic interior is nothing to write home about, however if it’s delicious dumplings for affordable prices you’re after then it’s definitely the place to be.
Split over two levels, the Melbourne dumpling house is popular with students and big groups, with plenty of large tables, a BYOB (bring your own booze) policy and speedy service, making it great for a pre-night out feast with friends.
They also serve plates of 15 tasty dumplings for under $10 so you can order a plate or two between you and enjoy along with some of the other cheap and cheerful Chinese dishes to share.
Insider tip: Shanghai Village Dumplings operates in cash only so make sure you have some on you or you’ll have to pop out to a cash machine before you finish your meal.
Best dumplings in Melbourne suburbs:
Outside of the CBD and Chinatown, there are still many dumpling restaurants more than worth a visit.
Box Hill is the real hub of the city’s Chinese community and is therefore where you can find many of the most authentic Chinese restaurants and dumpling bars in Melbourne. Plus, not only is the food delicious but it’s always extremely affordable.
The suburb of Prahran in the south of Melbourne is another area which is known for its Asian eateries and has a good offering of dumpling houses.
Here is a where you can find some of the best dumplings in Melbourne’s suburbs:
Dumpling King, Box Hill
Dumpling King is one of Box Hills most popular dumpling houses and is almost always packed during peak times.
The restaurant serves Beijing style cuisine and has an extensive dumpling offering, with pork, beef, chicken, seafood, prawn and several vegetarian options, which all come either steamed or pan-fried.
They also serve steamed BBQ pork buns if you want something to compare against those from world-renowned chain Tim Ho Wan.
Kitchen Republik, Box Hill
A hawker style-market inside of Box Hill Central where you can order from various food traders from all across Asia.
Not only are the dumplings delicious, but you’re also able to pair them with all sorts of other tasty dishes such as noodle soups and crispy Korean chicken.
Shanghai Dragon Dumpling House, Prahran
While Shanghai Dragon Dumpling House does also have a restaurant in Chinatown, a trip down to Prahran will help you avoid the queues in the smaller CBD branch.
As well as the traditional pork xiaolongbao, Shanghai Dragon also makes chicken, prawn, crab and vegetable versions of the juicy soup dumplings.