Stretching along Little Bourke Street between Swanston and Spring Streets, Chinatown is one of Melbourne’s most popular ethic precincts. These are the best Chinese and South East Asian Restaurants in Melbourne’s Chinatown.
Named after a traditional Chinese dance, Flower Drum was established by Gilbert Lau, who wanted to create a fine-dining experience where Australians could taste true Cantonese cuisine. Originally opened on Little Bourke Street in 1975, Flower Drum now sits on Market Lane and features a sprawling dining room as well as private rooms ideal for functions. The highly distinguished restaurant is now led by Executive Chef Anthony Lui, who skillfully executes the 13-page menu, ensuring that every guest leaves with their palate abuzz. In addition to their signature Peking Duck, Flower Drum is also renowned for their aromatic baked crab shell and braised lamb claypot.
Known for its communal dining philosophy, David Thompson’s Longrain is a Thai restaurant where the dishes are made for sharing. The 160-seat restaurant is divided between the cocktail bar and dining area, and is best suited for large gatherings. The South East Asian menu features such delights as coconut poached chicken with green papaya and Vietnamese mint, raw black Kingfish with sweet soy yuzu and crisp wonton skins, and filled eggnet with pork, prawns, peanuts and caramelised coconut. Plates are typically large as they’re intended for sharing, so be sure to leave room for dessert.
Opened in 2006 by restaurateur Teage Ezard, Gingerboy is the younger, sprightlier sibling to the Australian freestyle restaurant EZARD in Flinders Lane. Steering towards hawker-style street food with a modern-Australian twist, Gingerboy delivers seasonal menus that pack a punch. Must-try meals include the son-in-law eggs, twice-cooked pork belly with plum and ginger relish and green apple slaw, and the salt and pepper chicken spare rib. The venue itself features an upstairs cocktail loft, and sparkling dining room decked out with an over-sized fringed lampshade and multi-coloured Philippe Starck Louis Ghost chairs. Gingerboy also boasts a dim sum menu to accompany the drinks on Bottomless Sunday.
A few doors down from Rice Paper Scissors, Hochi Mama is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that spills out onto Liverpool Street. Founded by childhood friends Midawell Phal, Thai Ho and Raymond Phan, Hochi Mama is an extension of the pay-what-you-want pop-up Pho Real. Hochi Mama offers separate lunch and dinner menus packed with contemporary meals inspired by traditional Vietnamese flavours. Favourites include the Hochi Fried Chicken, Pho’plings and the Hochi Chicken Banh Bao. Be warned though–the menu is a tear-jerker, with fiery pickled vegetables and spicy sauces. Luckily, Hochi Mama offers a refreshing range of cocktails, including Good Morning Vietnam—a modern take on the espresso martini–as well as wines and Asian beers.
Rice Paper Scissors, Melbourne | Courtesy Rice Paper Scissors
After a backpacking trip through South East Asia, lifelong friends Rahmie Clowes and Shane Stafford were inspired to open a hawker-style dining bar with a shared-eating focus. In 2013 the team opened Rice Paper Scissors, a place where diners are encouraged to eat with their hands. Featuring fresh, organic ingredients, the tapas menu includes dishes such as Banh Mi crispy soft shell crab, Thai fried chicken, and Mekong whiskey marinated lamb ribs. Rice Paper Scissors has also launched a cookbook full of recipes, cocktails and origin stories.