Cheap Chinatown eats

When you head down to Chinatown, do you wander aimlessly, overwhelmed by choice, or go to the same joint every time? Either way, try these budget-friendly sure bets.

A night time scene of a city street, with a car and people milling around


Nam Loong Seafood Restaurant

This no-frills restaurant has been keeping loyal customers happy for decades with dim sims and special fried rice. It’s not all retro favourites at Nam Loong Seafood Restaurant though. The extensive menu includes Cantonese classics like sang choi bao, drunken squab and 11 types of congee. Feast like an emperor, spend like a peasant!

Shanghai Street

You’ve probably seen the queue out the door at this little restaurant on Chinatown’s edge. Next time you’re passing by, get on the end of it. The xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, are so good that this original Shanghai Street has spawned several more outlets around town, including a new venue in Bourke Street. There are four to choose from, including a crab-pork combo, and other very affordable treats, such as the more familiar jiaozi dumplings.

A bowl of noodles with meat and chilli on the top

Shanghai Street

ShanDong MaMa Dumplings

Serving traditional dishes from China’s Shandong province, ShanDong MaMa Dumplings’ speciality is clear from the name. This could be your new go-to spot for dumplings, made with three grades of skin thickness depending on filling and cooking method. Other options include the signature Daryl noodles. Don’t be put off by the frequent queues – tables turn over quickly! But if you simply can’t wait for your dumplings fix you can try your luck at their sister store, Shandong Mama Mini.

Shanghai Dumpling House

A Melbourne institution, Shanghai Dumpling House has been cooking up northern Chinese classics for generations. Best known for its many kinds of dumplings, this cheap and cheerful place also does great noodles and soups. Whether it’s a big feed on a budget or a quick bite between bars, you’re sorted. Bonus – get yourself some free, bottomless Chinese tea from the huge steel urn!

Sichuan House

China’s Sichuan province is famous for tongue-numbingly spicy food, so you know what to expect at Sichuan House. If you love food that’s hot, hot, hot, go for three-chilli-rated dishes, like the spicy mud crab tower. Your more timid companions have some options too, so settle in for a session of big flavours in Melbourne’s smallest laneway.