To celebrate our 10th birthday here at Urban List, we’re asking you to tell us your top 10 lists over on our Instagram. This time we’re looking at dumplings; good things come in small packages, and so do great things, such as Xiao Long Bao. Our city is spoilt for choice when it comes to these often-steamed, sometimes-fried pockets of flavour, so much so that you’ll be left doing laps of Chinatown until everything shuts up shop for the night.
The votes came in thick and fast for this one, so without further adieu here are the 10 best dumpling spots in Melbourne according to you:
CBD & CHADSTONE
Melbourne dumpling house New Shanghai handcrafts some of the most delicious parcels, stuffed with various fillings from pork and Chinese cabbage to chicken and prawn. New Shanghai's dumpling masters make all of the Chinese restaurant's dishes from scratch, sourcing the best local ingredients and freshly blending sauces and spices each morning. If you're after a banquet of some of the best dumplings in Melbourne, check out New Shanghai's expertly prepared prawn wonton with their mouth-watering signature dipping sauce with peanut sesame sauce and chilli oil.
Like the last dumpling in your chilli oil soup that you don’t expect to find, ShanDong Mama is truly a hidden surprise tucked away in Bourke Street’s Mid City Arcade. Now steeped in popularity, Shandog has risen to become one of the key spots to head to for the best dumplings in Melbourne. The menu comes from a long lineage of traditional cooking techniques imported from the tip of China’s Shandong peninsula, so it’s understandably seafood-focused. With that in mind, a serving of the ‘fish’ dumplings is a great place to start.
HuTong Dumpling Bar
CBD & PRAHRAN
Boy did we get some votes for this one. HuTong sure is popular, and so is its Xiaolongbao, Melbourne's favourite pork-and-soup-filled parcels of dumpling goodness. Both HuTong venues are usually full of eager diners, sitting down to a vicious array of dumplings that continue to impress from plate to plate. The aforementioned XLB is a clear highlight, accompanied by a mixture of black vinegar and ginger they’re a multi-texture revelation; if you’re after something with a little more heat, the wontons in chilli oil here have been hailed as some of the best dumplings Melbourne has to offer.
Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung is a worldwide sensation, most notably known for their meticulous preparation of their dumplings, ensuring is dumpling reaches a perfect weight ratio between 20-21.2 grams. Housed in CBD’s emporium, the secluded diner at the top end of the building is a chic modern space, with booth seating and a window display into the kitchen; so you can see all the action. Dumplings highlights on the menu include their Pork Xiao Long Bao, it’s the precision and craftsmanship that go into these little flavour bombs that make them so renowned.
A Chinatown all-star, Juicy Bao has all the key characteristics of a stellar dumpling diner, including a display window into the kitchen so you can see each dumpling come to life. The CBD haunt is probably best known for its chilli wontons and signature steamed Juicy Bao dumplings (a crab and pork Xiao Long Bao). The popular dish is typically stuffed inside bamboo steamers which are stacked head high on waiters as they make the rounds to each table hungrily waiting.
An absolute culinary marvel that just happens to be on the exterior of a shopping centre. Shanghai Red is located at one of the food-strip exteriors of Chadstone but don’t let that discourage you, stepping through the doors of the neon-lit diner you’re instantly transported into a bustling Shanghai-style diner, where the kitchen noise is drowned out by conversation and enthusiastic clunking of chopsticks on bowls, and passing of plates. The dumplings here are exquisite from the eccentric black truffle Xiao Long Bao to the Shanghainese steamed Shao Mai; the menu is also extremely extensive so you can try a new dumpling variety each visit.
CBD & SOUTH YARRA
Oriental Teahouse has been a go-to for dumplings and Yum Cha in Melbourne for quite some time. The drawcards of delicious authentic Chinese-style cuisine and their vibrant atmosphere has propelled the venues to institutional status. Their range of all-star dumplings including their knock-out chilli Wagyu beef and pulled pork combinations which have helped them cement themselves as some of the best dumplings in Melbourne. If you’re more of a sweet tooth you can get a plate of their signature chocolate dumplings that come in both milk and white chocolate, quite the decadent affair.
Nothing if not reliable, Tao consistently impresses with its well-executed range of dumplings that are delicious visit after visit. Although now a chain operation, you can visit any Tao venue and sit down to a spanking spread of home-style dumplings with over 25 options to choose from; their steamed wonton with Szechuan chilli sauce absolutely slams, and their pan-fried vegetarian dumplings offer an incredible flavour explosion of salty goodness.
Where would Melbourne be without its ace-in-the-hole Asian-fusion diner, Chin Chin? The Lucas Group Institution has long reigned supreme in Melbourne from its stronghold on Flinders Lane. Not typically considered as a ‘dumpling’ destination per se but the menu is loaded with a mixture of incredible flavour enhanced options such as the powerhouse pork and chive wonton. Absolutely smothering the wontons in the hellfire chilli oil and demolishing a plate by yourself is basically a Melbourne right of passage.
Immi Dumpling Bar
The incredibly quaint and charming Immi in Mordialloc has won the hearts of many with its self-described ‘Simply Fancy’ approach. Specialising in the wondrous culinary category of dumplings they’ve fused traditional techniques with modern flavours, putting their own spin on each parcel of joy. The barramundi dumpling for example is a hefty example with rich white-flesh barra accompanied by spring onion, ginger and eggplant oil, though you’ll still find the favourites like potstickers filled with pork and wombok, or chicken and king prawn. Resting on the main drag in Mordialloc, this very well could be some of the best dumplings in Melbourne’s southern suburbs.
Image credit: Oriental Teahouse (supplied)