Yum cha in Sydney is what dim sum dreams are made of
Melbourne has Italian, Brisbane has craft beer and Sydney? Well, Sydney, dear readers, has yum cha. It’s no surprise that Sydney folks have a thing for yum cha. It’s essentially the Cantonese version of brunch. And we all know how Sydney feels about brunch – it’s as Australian as a Tim Tam. So needless to say, offer us some form of this exceptional meal, and we’ll lap it right up. But, why is yum cha so loved in Sydney?
First of all, who doesn’t love getting various dishes served to you on a trolley? It’s one of life’s great pleasures, in our opinion. Seriously though, we think the yum cha obsession is down to the love affair Australia has with Asian cuisine in general, as well as the large and diverse Chinese community in Sydney and well, it’s just damn delicious.
We’re not going to lie and say the yum cha you’ll get in Sydney will be as authentic as it is in Guangdong or Guangxi. No Chinese in Australia is that authentic. It is, however, all really delicious and the vast majority of dim sum will be similar to what you’d get in China. Now pay attention because we have a few things to get through before we get stuck into where to get the best yum cha in Sydney.
What’s it all about then?
Yum cha directly translates to drinking tea and dim sum means to touch the heart. Meaning, that despite the fact that it’s brunch, it’s not a vibe to consume booze. But before you pipe up about how you just neeeeed a brunch cocktail – remember that it’s this way for a reason. Tea actually cuts though the rich and heavy dishes and leaves you feeling less bloated and full. Meaning there’s more room for food. Winning.
Also, just so we’re clear, dim sum and dim sim are different. Dim sum are a selection of small fried and steamed dishes. The most common – and delicious – items you’ll find in the Sydney yum cha restaurants are prawn dumplings (har gow); rice noodle rolls filled with barbecued pork or prawns (chee cheong fun); pork spare ribs cooked in a chilli black bean sauce (pai gwat) and fried savoury turnip cake (lo bart gow). Dessert is all about golden syrup sponge (ma lai gow) and mango pudding.
So now that we’ve got that sorted, it’s time to round up your pals. Yum cha is all about group and shared dining – so, select which restaurant you’re keen for and build up an appetite until you arrive. These are our favourite places in Sydney for yum cha. You’re welcome!
The top 5 best spots for yum cha in Sydney
1. Zilver Bondi
Ah Zilver. Arguably the best place in Sydney for yum cha, this place is aaaaall about sharing. Quick, speedy and efficient, this is the go-to for business meetings and work lunches. Serving all the classics and some unique signature specials that are perfect for the adventurous among us, this one is not to be missed. The sophomore branch to the original Haymarket spot, we are all about this charming spot. Get amongst it, yum cha fans.
Shop 11, 6010 Westfield Bondi Junction, Bondi Junction, Sydney 2022Yum Cha at Zilver Bondi
2. Nine Dragons
One of the most iconic Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, the team at Nine Dragons have been cooking up a storm for over 30 years. Opening up in 1977, this is easily one of Sydney’s most sought after places and is well-known for having exceptional handmade dumplings, yum cha, cocktails and tea. Stylish and relaxed, the dim sum here is all about the Peking duck pancake; sesame prawn toast; chicken feet in a black bean sauce and gai lan in oyster sauce. Arrive here for yum cha with a hearty appetite.
39-45 Dixon Street, Haymarket, Sydney 2000Yum Cha at Nine Dragons
3. The Century
When writing an article on the best yum cha in Sydney, it would be almost criminal not to mention The Century. Chic, elegant and as stylish as it gets, this opulent Chinese restaurant is housed within The Star Casino, with sweeping views of Darling Harbour. The dim sum menu here is home to all manner of delectable dishes including sticky rice bun with lap cheong and cured meat; Cantonese bbq pork; braised chicken feet and some of the best prawn har gow we’ve ever tried. When you want to treat yourself, this is the yum cha experience you need.
The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street (Entry Via Pirrama Rd), Pyrmont, Sydney 2009Yum Cha at The Century
4. Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine
Dim sum is at the very core of Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine. This Haymarket restaurant is a fusion of Cantonese, British and wider Chinese influences, so the menu and the dishes bring a unique element to the Chinatown hub. The yum cha selection is all about sui ma with pork and prawns; pan fried red bean pancake and chilli fish balls. We advise tucking into some seafood dim sum here. It’s a specialty and we are big fans.
10A Dixon Street, Sydney CBD, Sydney 2000Yum Cha at Old Town Hong Kong
5. Lan Yuan
Another yum cha offering in Sydney offering something a little bit different. This Ryde spot is a far cry from the simple and no-frills haunts we are all familiar with (don’t lie, we’ve all been there). Rather, it’s stylish, modern and completely stunning. The quality is impeccable, the choice is extensive, and the restaurant’s ambience and atmosphere feels like a garden retreat. Let’s just say this is high on our list and one we’ll be returning to for a long time to come.
4005 Devlin St & Blaxland Road, Ryde, Sydney 2112Yum Cha at Lan Yuan