Where to Eat Yum Cha When You're Feeling Like a Bottomless Pit

It's a truth universally acknowledged that it is impossible to leave yum cha feeling hungry.
Kat Hayes
July 01, 2023

Where to Eat Yum Cha When You're Feeling Like a Bottomless Pit

It's a truth universally acknowledged that it is impossible to leave yum cha feeling hungry.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you haven't really had the time to feed yourself properly? We see you and your 11pm mi goreng and raise you an 8am stale muesli bar from our car stash. Sometimes it's hard to be a fully functioning, cooking, pre-planning adult when you've got a lot on. You'll get to the weekend and find there's nothing in your cupboards and you've got a raging hunger that won't quit — so why not quell the fire with yum cha?

Yum cha hits the sweet spot cuisine-wise. You can eat a bunch of different small Chinese dishes — which usually cruise straight up to your table on a trolley – and you can eat a hell of a lot. For those days when you're feeling like your hunger can never be truly sated, it might be a good call for you and your loosest pair of pants to check out the list of where to find the best yum cha in Melbourne. Each haunt puts its own twist on the beloved dining experience — but all serve up top notch dumplings, pork buns and tea.


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    A rare combination of a store, teahouse and Chinese restaurant, Oriental Teahouse is a unique experience. Come for both food and drink options, as the eatery — another of David Zhou’s forays — puts just as much love into both. Thirty-eight different varieties of tea are sitting pretty on the menu, some for accompanying dumplings and some for just sipping on their own.

    Despite the concentration on tea, don’t be fooled — this is a full-blown Chinese restaurant and a beaut option for yum cha. It has an extensive dumpling menu with additions like chilli wagyu beef, ginger prawn, and roast duck. There’s even steamed white chocolate dumplings for dessert. Don’t fill yourself up with the tea options too much – you’ve been warned.

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  • 7
    Red Door Yum Cha

    Red Door is more than just a yum cha restaurant. In addition to tasty Cantonese food, the eatery is also an antiques store full of treasures — and it has a beautiful decor to sit, sip tea and down dumplings in. When you enter Red Door, you feel a little like you’ve travelled back centuries in time to China instead of having just stepped off Chapel Street in 2018.

    Sitting up the Windsor end of a quiet side street, Red Door is peaceful — no trolley service here, just pre-order off a menu. There are good gluten-free dumpling choices for those who generally miss out on the tiny bundles of goodness and ample vego options, too, and everything you sit on is for sale (so sit carefully, we guess).

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  • 6
    Mahjong Restaurant

    The sandy side of town has some offerings for yum cha, too, so don’t be thinking it’s only about Chinatown. Part of the restaurant precinct on Fitzroy Street, Mahjong has been serving up scores of dumplings for nigh on ten years. Head in on the weekend for a cruisy $39 yum cha. You scoff dumplings anytime on Saturday, but on Sunday — prime yum cha day — you have to choose from a session time of 11.30am or 1.30pm.

    If it’s more of an evening affair you’re after, Mahjong also runs its yum cha on Tuesday evenings or an ‘endless Friday feast’ all-you-can-eat state of affairs on Fridays. Both $39 as well.

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  • 5
    Secret Kitchen CBD

    Up the Parliament end of the city sits Secret Kitchen. At its entrance is one of the largest restaurant aquariums in the city — those swimming fish seem happy and there’s a high chance that you’ll also leave Secret Kitchen happy, too. Adding to their branches in Glen Waverley, Doncaster and Chadstone, the restaurant owners have completed the quartet with their Exhibition Street digs.

    Here they specialise in seafood — and something called a lava bun — and the restaurant is also fairly good value for money for the CBD. They also serve adorable sweet red-bean buns that are decorated to look like little pigs. Eat your heart out.

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  • 4

    Yum cha over at David’s in Prahran is no joke. Open on Saturdays and Sundays, the light and airy space plays host to some serious dim sum situations. Pick your time (11.30am or 1.30pm) and shuffle in with some mates and an empty tum ready to fill.

    Opened by David Zhou fifteen years ago — and starting out as a small tea store on Chapel Street — this reincarnation of David’s knows its prawn dumplings from its pork buns. Specialising in country Shanghai food, you’ll be grazing away and throwing down dumplings as fast as they come out (remember to chew). Go for unfussy, chill vibes and stay for the fact that the food doesn’t stop coming.

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  • 3
    Gold Leaf Docklands

    Gold Leaf has a couple of very important drawcards, and mostly it’s the fact that there is more than just one of them for your convenience. With outlets in Preston, Docklands, Burwood, Springvale and Sunshine, it seems likely that whatever far reaches of Melbourne your weekend might lead you to, Gold Leaf will feed you up nice and good. Thirty years old and smashing out delish Cantonese food since way back then, Gold Leaf has more dumpling options than you have fingers to count ’em on.

    Make your way here when you’re really hungry and ready to roll, and expect tasty, fresh fare. Just make sure you save room for a custard tart or six for dessert.

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  • 2

    If it’s high time to treat your body to something fancy and stacked with culinary goodness, head to find Spice Temple. The luxe eatery is serving up modern Chinese food with an emphasis on China’s lesser-known regions (such as Yunnan, Jiangxi, Guangxi and Sichuan). And a yum cha banquet is certainly the right call over here.

    Spice Temple knows its spices, as well as the right things to put on your table. Go for a nice occasion, to drown your sorrows in dumplings or just because. The windowless environment will mean you end up staying much longer and eating much more than you initially intended. Not such a bad thing over here.

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  • 1

    You know it’s going to be good when you’re venturing right into the middle of Chinatown. Tram down on a weekend and you’ll immediately encounter queues for various restaurants, all merging into each other higgledy-piggledy. Trust us, though, it’ll be worth the frustrating crawl up Little Bourke to get to Crystal Jade.

    Fast trolleys, fresh food and good service make this CBD restaurant worth spending your Friday night at — add to that a decent wine list (with offerings from places like Margaret River as well as Italy) and you’ve got your weekend dining bonanza sorted. And Melbourne’s best karaoke joints are around the corner.

    Image: Kimberley Low.

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