A chef’s guide to Melbourne’s best Chinese restaurants
And now he’s tackling one of the biggest culinary events on Melbourne’s calendar – Chinese New Year – teaming up with Adam Liston (Cutler & Co, T8, Northern Light) to welcome the Year of the Monkey with a lavish eight-course banquet in the Windsor’s restaurant One Eleven on February 7, the eve of the Lunar New Year. Joel is also giving the Windsor’s traditional high tea an oriental overhaul with cumquat, lychee and peach in the pastries and dim sum inspired savouries for two weeks from February 8.
Chinese New Year this year is that it’s such a big part of what we enjoy about Melbourne, and as chefs I believe we are so fortunate to be surrounded by such diversity,” Joel says. “We really wanted to make a strong reference to both the celebration and our own identity, showing Chinese signature dishes in a new light.”
So where does Joel get his inspiration for the Lunar New Year dishes at the Windsor? These are his top five Chinese restaurants in Melbourne.
1 McIlwrick St, Windsor, 9510 9658
A long time favourite for calming Sunday Yum Cha after a busy week in the kitchen, Red Door (pictured top and right) is a warehouse space tucked away in the back streets of Windsor inside a Chinese antique furniture store. The menu is short and sweet but super tasty. Dumplings are handmade daily by a Guangdong master. The bean curd wrap is a must while you relax among the cushions of an antique four-poster lounge. Oh… and it’s BYO.
175 Russell St, Melbourne, 9654 2828
Every chef has their own list of late night Chinese pit stops for after-service refreshment. Noodle Kingdom on Russell St serves up big bowls of fresh steaming noodles, amazing mutton with cumin, welcomes anyone and serves until the early hours. The people watching at 2am is a great source of amusement and can’t be beaten.
3. Flower Drum
17 Market Lane, Melbourne, 9662 3655
The Flower Drum is a memorable, classic experience. Classic dishes, respectful of the past, cooked by chefs who serve them the way they’re meant to be. It has to be the service at Flower Drum that sets the place apart. Leave the decision-making up to Jason and his team if you want to have a really memorable meal. In short – old school, done proper.
4. Old Kingdom
197 Smith St, Fitzroy, 9417 2438
I can’t go past the Peking duck three ways, served at the table with theatre. Good fun, BYO, affordable and delicious. I would pay just to watch the man break down the duck perfectly with his eyes closed.
5. Lee Ho Fook
11-15 Duckboard Place, Melbourne, 9077 6261
Victor Leong’s new take on Chinese in Duckboard Place. Absolutely love the pickled black fungi and Victor’s Tea eggs. The restaurant has a really interesting wine list too.