Chinese food and dining has slowly but surely made its way south to the tables of Australia, and has now established itself as one of the favorite Canberra cuisines. Check out the best places to grab Chinese food in the Australian capital.
Set up in the Burbury Hotel in Barton is the newly opened Malamay. ‘Supported by the Michelin starred Chairman restaurant in Hong Kong‘, Malamay serves up the very best of south-west Chinese cuisine. They offer both lunch and dinner set menus, as well as vegetarian banquets, with stand out dishes like their delectable chilli prawns, and “spicy and numbing sesame chicken”. For something really different why not try the Earl Grey custard with peanut popping candy for dessert! The interior is decked out in traditional Chinese black and red colours, which adds to the restaurants sumptuous, intimate atmosphere. As well as a private dining rooms there is a large, shaded outdoor area perfect for summer dining.
In the heart of Canberra’s Chinatown is Ruby Chinese, which has been an icon here since 1982. This Cantonese restaurant specializes in fresh seafood chosen live from the tank. The sweet and sticky flaming pork is also favorite here, and they offer many signature dishes. If you’re a little more adventurous, try one of their fish dishes, such as Parrot Fish or Freshwater Eel. Accompany your meal with China’s favorite beer, Tsingtao, for a real taste of the Orient.
Now run by head chef Kun Chen, Portia’s Place still serves the mouthwatering dishes that made this restaurant so famous when it opened more than eight years ago. Centrally situated in the Kingston precinct, this place welcomes everyone from international politicians to local Aussies, as it is a very popular spot. Their impressive-sized menu has more than 50 main dishes alone. All of these are delicious and cooked to perfection. Firm favorites here are the crispy duck pancakes, shen tung chicken and the sumptuous dry chili beef. With the air filled with the sound of voices, and the aromatic spices of Chinese cuisine, the atmosphere at Portia’s Place is vibrant and welcoming. It is perfect for a family outing or dinner with friends.
The restaurant’s name – kopi meaning coffee in Malaysian, and tiam which is Chinese for shop – infuses the two languages, just as the food here combines the flavors of the two countries. Located in one of Canberra’s southern suburbs, Abell’s Kopi Tiam is small but lively and always busy. They also have a sheltered, outdoor dining area with heaters and blankets at every table should you want to stay late. Their blackboard of specials changes regularly to keep things fresh. However, there are always some favorites on the menu like twice-cooked crispy duck on a bed of sweet potato mash, or the rich and tender beef rendang. Finish with one of their gorgeous desserts, like the simple but delicious coconut and pandan pancakes. They also have a fantastic choice of vegetarian dishes too, so everyone in the party will be happy.
Since it opened nearly 25 years ago, The Chairman & Yip has been a celebrated Canberra institution, and it has never failed to impress. The service here is outstanding, and Albert the maitre d and his staff will go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your meal. Their Cantonese-style cuisine is packed with flavors of Asia and the West. Seafood is the speciality here, and their house specials include delicious dishes such as sesame crusted salmon, and a beef and scallops hot pot. The choice here is fantastic: they even offer special early bird menus as well as their lunch and dinner banquets for two. Or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, opt for their tasting menu which is packed with exciting flavor combinations.
The legendary Mr Happy started up Canberra’s first ever Chinese restaurant in the early 60s, and it is still run by the same family to this day. His grandson Gavin is now in charge, and brings a fresh young take to this old-time favorite. Hidden away in Garema Place, Happy’s Chinese exudes its trademark warm and welcoming atmosphere. Hanging on the wall is the stunning poster of the Great Wall of China, painted by the head chef, which transports you to the Orient. It’s not just the decor that does this: the food is served piping hot and bursting with the flavors of China. Recommended are the Wasabi beef noodles, the steamed duck with Chinese mushrooms or the shredded pork with capsicum and zha chai. Happy’s Chinese is the best place for a quick, cheap but fantastic meal that is always served with a smile.