First published on 30 Jul 2008. Updated on 5 Apr 2011.
Best for... Yum cha
Did you know that dumplings are double the size in Sydney that they are in Melbourne? Scout's honour - the ones in Sydney you pretty much need to bite in half whereas Melbourne's versions generally go straight in the cake hole. You also get more variation here and the trolleys make the rounds more regularly. Best bets at Marigold are the pork knuckles, beef tendon, fried radish cakes and prawn dumplings.
Outta 'Town?Sunny Harbour Seafood Restaurant, Hurstville
Best for... Sichuan food
Red Chilli, Haymarket
The real magic is in the stuff on the menu on the first floor. It's all in the texture - smooth, creamy preserved eggs blobbing away in a concoction of oil and chilli and squishy cubes of silken tofu, say, with a generous handful of green onion. Or crisp little chunks of fried chicken bits covered in cold burning Sichuan pepper nesting in a forest of dried chilli. Cool it all off with a Tsing Tao beer.
Outta 'Town?Spicy Sichuan, Glebe
Best for... Barbecue & roast
Emperor's Garden, Haymarket
The best place for roast in Chinatown is this unassuming little restaurant two doors down from the butcher. The duck, with its sweet, crisp, fatty skin and musky flesh, is great, as is sweet roast pork served with steamed greens and rice. If time is short, there's a stall outside the main restaurant that serves all the meats (including squid and offal), The best bit? They start service at the stall from around 9am so you can eat it for brekky!
Outta 'Town?Excellent BBQ, Eastwood
Best for... Late night nibbles
Golden Century, Sydney
It's. Open. Until. 4am. Sweet mercy and praise the snack lords, what a restaurant! Long a destination for Sydney soaks, night owls and hospitality workers, it's all about the congee (rice porridge) with pork and preserved egg for under $11. If you do grace the Golden Centurions with your presence at 3am with your drink on, they'll welcome you in and do you an excellently light salt and pepper squid and tiny, sweet baby bok choy with garlic.
Outta 'Town? Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ, Chatswood
Best for... Cheap eats
Dixon Food Court, Haymarket
Plenty of choices here but don't miss the fresh sugarcane juice pressed from weapons of sugarcane that go through a machine strong enough to crush the fingers of Hulk Hogan and come out the other side sweeter than Shirley Temple in liquid form. Best to leave the Vietno stalls alone (you can get better in the City) but for a hotpot on a budget or a simple stir fry, you'll get your fill for less than a tenner. There's also another stall that does Asian desserts: tapioca pearls, creamy fluoro jelly, basil seeds and strange milk drinks.
Outta 'Town? Star City, Pyrmont
Best for... Sweets
Emperor Cream Puff, Haymarket
Oh, if only this magazine had litero-sound. The squelching noise the custard makes as it hits its little casing is most satisfying. But given we're still living in the age of mute print, you'll just have to use your imagination. The pastry hits the searing hot black pastry mould (they look a lot like the things used to make takoyaki - those Japanese octopus balls). When the cake has been turned over and is ready, scorching hot custard is then injected into each cake. And they're cheap, too. Five for a dollar? More please!
Outta 'Town?Lerdy Chinese Dim Sim Cake Shop, Burwood
Best for... Groceries
Thai Kee, Sydney
Talk to any chef that's into their Asian produce and they'll tell you the same thing. From Tetsuya Wakuda to Kylie Kwong, they all recommend this store. And it's easy to see why - with aisles and aisles devoted purely to Asian produce, you'll find everything you need from mustard greens and lotus root to frozen soy beans, moon cakes, bamboo steamers, woks, tea and soy sauce. And if you've got a very large order, they'll deliver.
Outta 'Town?Randwick Oriental Supermarket, Kingsford
Best for... Noodles
Chinese Noodle Restaurant, Haymarket
This place is so popular, the lines snake out the doors every lunchtime which means you either need to get there super early or take along a good book while you wait. While the room only seats around 30 people, once you're seated, you're in for some treats of noodly proportions like hand-pulled noodles with pork mince and light-as-a-feather dumplings. The northwestern handmade noodles are offset by the giant (and slightly weird) hunting tapestries all over the walls that make it look like a mix between a discount rug shop and fetish house. But boy, are the noodles good.
Outta 'Town?Dong Dong, Kingsford
Best for... Meat
Emperor's Garden Meat Market, Sydney
The variety is mind-blowing but you need to be tough - the Chinese nannas who frequent this shop will elbow you aside faster than you can say gweilo! (white person). It's good value and a great place to purchase whole chooks (beaks and all), pork belly and short ribs.
Outta 'Town? Kum Kee , Ashfield
Best for... Uighur food
Uighur Cuisine, Sydney
One of the more fascinating and different Chinese cuisines found in Chinatown, Uighur is a mix of Turkish and Chinese food resulting in more bread than you'd usually see plus pide and short cut noodle dishes. Try the ‘meat bread' - sort of like a gozlome, only thinner and flatter.