The best Chinese restaurants in Canberra

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Pop Chinese restaurant Natural 9 at Casino Canberra serves up creative Chinese food with a modern Australian twist.

Gone are the days when “going for a Chinese” meant a standard repertoire of prawn toast and spring rolls followed by sweet and sour pork and a special fried rice (add a lemon chicken if particularly peckish).

Aussie lovers of Chinese cuisine have woken up to the fact that this vast country of coastline, desert, mountains, lakes and rivers offers a diversity and richness of flavours well beyond those much-loved Cantonese staples.

Today, any Australian city worth its salt and pepper tofu can trace a cultural, geographical and historical map of China through the plethora of regional Chinese restaurants that have rightly taken their place on the culinary landscape.

Each has its own distinct flavour, largely based on the produce available in the region, ethnic background of those who live there, climate, cooking techniques and traditions that have been passed down through the centuries.

Eight culinary styles – Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang – make up China’s remarkable culinary culture, the geographic location of each also informing the flavours it is famous for.

It’s no surprise that the cuisines emanating from eastern China (including Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian), which is flanked by a lengthy coastline, should be rich in seafood and feature light and fresh tastes.

The incendiary chilli, garlic and Szechuan pepper combos found in Szechuan and Hunan food, accompanied by preserved, pickled and salted condiments, meanwhile, are informed by their location deep in the central provinces of China.

In the north, the cuisine is influenced by nearby Shandong and Inner Mongolia, revealing salty yet simple flavours, while the food of the capital, Beijing, also takes its cues from the imperial court cuisine prepared for Chinese royalty, including that favourite of Asian aristocracy and ravenous Aussies alike, Peking duck.

Chinese food, whatever its provenance, is one of the most convivial of cuisines. A table filled with share plates of rice and noodles, delicately braised or seared vegetables, steamed fish, sizzling meats and stir-fries, plus a soup or two, means there will always be something to suit even the most pernickety of diners.

Those who prefer to go it alone or with an equally hungry pal can while away a couple of hours eyeing the trolleys of bamboo steamers as they meander around one of Canberra’s many impressive yum cha restaurants; in our book one of the best ways to spend a weekend morning (apart from nipping into a Chinese teahouse in Dickson to eat your bodyweight in barbecue pork and roast duck on rice).

Whether you fancy a plate of xiao long bao soup dumplings from Shanghai, a spicy Szechuan ma po tofu or a cha siu pork rice noodle roll from Guangzhou, there’s no shortage of options in the nation’s capital.

The best Chinese restaurants in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Ginseng Chinese

Ginseng Chinese is an award-winning Chinese restaurant offering a range of innovative and fresh Chinese dishes. Located in the Hellenic Club, it's open for lunch and dinner every day, with yum cha lunch available on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

Diner Pixel shared their experience on Google Reviews: "One of the best fried rices in Canberra. The lobster tails were excellent too. Fresh Chinese broccoli to complement the menu. Friendly and helpful staff. The place can get busy for lunch and dinner." 

Wukong Hot Pot

Wukong Hot Pot is the first and only authentic Chongqing hot pot restaurant in Canberra. Located in Dickson at the heart of Canberra’s Asian food district, Wukong is all about bring China to Canberra, creating a space where Canberrans can have first-hand experience of traditional and hearty Chinese food.

As happy customer and ‘Local Guide’ Brogan Goode writes in their Google review, I had an amazing experience at Wukong! The food was fresh, and the service was quick. I recommend this place for people looking to expand their taste horizons.”

Happy's Chinese Restaurant

Happy’s Chinese Restaurant in Civic has been owned by three generations of the same family since 1962. Serving up traditional Cantonese cuisine, Happy's offers banquet and a la carte dining options in a simple, no-fuss environment.

Diner Doug shared his experience at Happy's on Google Reviews: "This is a old favourite, been operating 50+ years, now by the grandson. Always consistent and a winner. A firm favourite for locals and visitors alike. All the usual Chinese favourites and will accommodate dietary requirements. BYO and also licensed with good selection of well priced drinks."

CBD Dumpling House

If you love dumplings, add Bunda Street's CBD Dumpling House to your list of must-try Chinese restaurants in Canberra. The decor isn't fancy, but the service is fast (you can even watch the chefs make dumplings at lightning-fast speed in the kitchen) and the food is delicious.

In addition to dumplings, the restaurant also serves dishes ranging from seafood and noodles to rice dishes.

Diner Meghan shared her experience at CBD Dumpling House in a website testimonial: "Really good!!! They had vegan options, the food came out really fast even though the place was PACKED. We got a table immediately even though it was super busy and there are 5 of us. Would recommend!"

China Plate Kingston

Located on Kennedy Street in Kingston with a sister restaurant in ANU's Kambri precinct, China Plate is locally renowned for its high quality service and flavoursome modern Chinese food.

Diner Jacob shared his experience at China Plate on Google Reviews: "Delicious dumplings, Budda vegetables, tangerine beef ribs, salt and pepper squid and clean fresh rice. Friendly and attentive service, he knew the dishes well to describe them to us when we had questions. Clean unisex toilets. Nice comfortable lighting. Atmosphere is an upscale modern restaurant."

Timmy's Kitchen

You can't talk about Chinese food in Canberra without mentioning Timmy's Kitchen in Manuka. It's been around since 1985, and specialises in Chinese and Malaysian cuisine.

The most popular dishes at Timmy's Kitchen include shantung chicken, sizzling butterfly king prawns with chilli lemongrass, and laksa.

Here's what diner Annette had to say about her experience at Timmy's Kitchen: "So much food in the banquet we couldn't eat it all. Very fresh ingredients and flavours. Staff were all attentive, quick and professional. Will be back again as soon as we can."

Timmy's is open for lunch and dinner every day except Mondays. Bookings are recommended but not essential, and takeaway is available.

Natural Nine

What do you get when you combine creative cuisine, quality service and a fun atmosphere? The answer is award-winning pop Chinese restaurant Natural Nine, winner of the Best Chinese Restaurant Award at the Restaurant and Catering 2019 Awards for Excellence.

Tucked away in Casino Canberra (it's an 18+ venue), Natural Nine's team tailors menus with regional Chinese flavours at their heart, infused with an Aussie twist. Think sichuan noodles topped with crunchy ants (it's listed on the menu as 'tyrant ants climbing trees'), duck and broccoli fried rice with chicken floss, and white chocolate chilli pudding with vanilla ice cream and milk crumb for dessert.

Diner Shel shared her experience at Natural Nine on Google Reviews: "The restaurant is inside the casino with very nice comfortable seating. We love every dish we had and the service was great too! The speed of serving is also great! Highly recommend!"

Open 7 days, Natural Nine offers a daily Pop Yum Cha lunch menu from 12pm - 3pm and is open for dinner from 5.30pm to 10pm.

If you’d prefer to eat from home, check out our article on the best food delivery services in Canberra. Or, if you’re looking for another cuisine, check out our article on the best Indian restaurants, the best Japanese restaurants and the best Thai restaurants in Canberra.

Your experience with Chinese restaurants in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the Chinese restaurants listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Chinese food meet my dietary requirements?

Most likely, yes – but it depends. There are numerous Chinese dishes that are vegetarian but use egg – take out the egg, and it’s vegan. If you’re gluten free, you’re in luck: Chinese dishes rarely use gluten-based ingredients like flour in their cooking, and noodles are usually rice or egg-based.

Are there different types of Chinese restaurants?

There are eight different culinary styles of Chinese cuisine, with geographic location for each informing some of the flavours. These culinary styles are Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang. Some Chinese restaurants will focus on one specific cuisine, whilst others may incorporate a mix of a few.

Are there many Chinese restaurants in Canberra?

There are many Chinese restaurants in Canberra, and many can be found on Woolley Street in Dickson - which is affectionately known as Chinatown by the locals. This street also incorporates a mix of other cuisines and businesses such as Indian, Turkish, Malaysian and Japanese.

Do Chinese restaurants offer takeaway?

Most Chinese restaurants in Canberra offer takeaway, but it's always best to check their website or phone directly before you order.

Can I order delivery from Chinese restaurants in Canberra?

If you're looking to dine in at home, there are many options available for Chinese food delivery. A local Canberra food delivery app, Easi, has many Chinese restaurants on offer. Some restaurants offer delivery directly from their website. It's best to check with your local restaurant and enquire directly.

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John Moulis said :

Ginseng at the Hellenic Club is really good.

Ginseng in the Hellenic Club was so over the top salty the last couple of times I tried them (in case once was just that night) that I gave up on them.

Off to try Tang Dynasty tomorrow for the girlfriend-in-law’s birthday. Let you know how it goes. 🙂

and an un-vote for jimmy’s – tried it on recommendations from this thread but was singularly unimpressed. bland, basically. tak kee would have been the better option, as usual…

Red Chilli on Alinga St: a menu of many authentic Sichuan dishes. It’s always full of Chinese people of an evening.

CBD Dumpling House/Dickson Dumpling House also have good handmade noodles and hot pot options.

Crazed_Loner1:11 am 28 Aug 15

canberradogwalks said :

– China Plate in Kingston for great service and reasonable prices. Favourite dishes are the whole sole Hong Kong style and the fried eggplant.
– Sammy’s and Timmy’s in Civic and Manuka. Favourite dish is the Shantung chicken.

I was crestfallen when China Plate closed in Civic, after experiencing a particularly memorable meal there, but overjoyed when I discovered they’d re-opened in Kingston. I can vouch for the fried eggplant chips and also the wasabi beef. Not a big menu but beautifully cooked.
Also love Sammy’s Shantung Chicken – hard for me to go past and the standard by which I judge all others, and none has equalled it so far.
Haven’t been to the reopened Tang Dynasty, a favourite in a previous lifetime, but I crave their Mermaid’s Tresses if they’re anything like they were previously.

Mr_Micawber said :

It’s hard to go past the Civic Dumpling House. It’s fast, tasty and relatively cheap. All its dishes would pass muster in Hong Kong.

+1. Nice atmosphere *and* good food. See, people? It is possible.

The servings are also large. My partner and I just order a main and a side, and that usually fills us up.

Their pumpkin and prawn dumplings are the best in the universe, 11/10!

I tend to like a mix, each has their own good dishes.

Happy’s / Sammy’s are always a hit for groups.
Didn’t mind nobel palace before they changed. Tried to get take away from there but its buffet.

As for my regular place I wont tell you as I don’t want them to get busy and put their prices up.

The one at ANU is pretty good too.

Our dumpling go to is Spicy Ginger, they are made and cooked traditionally. Their runner beans are amazing for such a simple dish…always order more then one bowl to go with our dumplings.

We love our chilli beef, and we always get the best from Fortune Cookie in Melba. Great service, well-priced, never pretentious like other resturants in the city and the food is always wonderful.

creative_canberran6:34 pm 27 Aug 15

MonarchRepublic said :

creative_canberran said :

Talkative said :

Oriental Terrace at Erindale has nice Chinese food.

Stopped going there years ago after the kids took over from the parents.

They were prosecuted under the Food Act, their name was recently removed from the ACT register after the normal name and shame period http://www.health.act.gov.au/public-information/businesses/food-safety-regulation/register-food-offences

Mysteryman said :

If you want something closer to authentic, Spicy Ginger near UniLodge used to be the place to go. They were the closest thing to authentic Chinese food I’ve had since returning from China. I haven’t been there in a few years though, so they may have changed.

Click the link above and you’ll find they were prosecuted for 4 offences under the Food Act dating back to 2011. Was reported a number of times in the Canberra Times, pics and all.

Also reported in the Canberra Times was the plight of the new owner, who was struggling with the stigma of the prosecution, despite having done major upgrades since purchasing is. So don’t be so quick to judge.
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/new-cafe-owners-struggling-to-recover-from-stigma-of-court-case-20141210-1242wh.html

Do the crime, do the time. They were found guilty by a court of law.

Happys – downstairs in Garema Place; Jimmy’s at Dickson are my choices.

I agree with Tak Kee in Dickson for best BBQ hands down.

ChrisinTurner2:59 pm 27 Aug 15

Sammy’s is still my overall choice. Noisy but fast service. Food consistently good.

Best BBQ is at Tak Kee is still at Dickson. No ambiance just great food.

Looks like we will have to check out Bambusa.

Another vote for Bambusa 🙂 i’m not a massive Chinese fan but could happily eat at Bambusa weekly.

Prince’s Palace on Belconnen lake does a good yum cha of a weekend, although I havent been there for a while. Ruby in Dickson seems to be where Chinese people go, (think jellyfish salad) although it might be a bit too authentic for most Australian palates. Sammys is a good (if you can get past the hurry along service). Kingsland in Dickson (if its still open) did interesting mock meat dishes, although think it got a food safety breach as the owner didn’t like to kill cockroaches for religious reasons. Have fun!

canberradogwalks2:26 pm 27 Aug 15

– China Plate in Kingston for great service and reasonable prices. Favourite dishes are the whole sole Hong Kong style and the fried eggplant.
– Sammy’s and Timmy’s in Civic and Manuka. Favourite dish is the Shantung chicken.

mags_rowlands2:24 pm 27 Aug 15

If you want really authentic Chinese food, you got to go to Diamond Restaurant in Belconnen (behind Good Guys). Simon the owner who loves to satisfy his customers by providing the dishes you won’t see in other Chinese Restaurant. Ask for recommendation since they have two manu (one is common dishes you can see in other Chinese Restaurants; the other is only in Chinese-best dishes within it; most Chinese include me go for that particular menu.) Price is really reasonable. Dishes is greater quantity than others as well. How do you choose authentic Chinese food? Go to where Chinese go.

White Lotus in Fyshwick – great service, nice friendly staff and great food

It’s hard to go past the Civic Dumpling House. It’s fast, tasty and relatively cheap. All its dishes would pass muster in Hong Kong.

MonarchRepublic1:58 pm 27 Aug 15

creative_canberran said :

Talkative said :

Oriental Terrace at Erindale has nice Chinese food.

Stopped going there years ago after the kids took over from the parents.

They were prosecuted under the Food Act, their name was recently removed from the ACT register after the normal name and shame period http://www.health.act.gov.au/public-information/businesses/food-safety-regulation/register-food-offences

Mysteryman said :

If you want something closer to authentic, Spicy Ginger near UniLodge used to be the place to go. They were the closest thing to authentic Chinese food I’ve had since returning from China. I haven’t been there in a few years though, so they may have changed.

Click the link above and you’ll find they were prosecuted for 4 offences under the Food Act dating back to 2011. Was reported a number of times in the Canberra Times, pics and all.

Also reported in the Canberra Times was the plight of the new owner, who was struggling with the stigma of the prosecution, despite having done major upgrades since purchasing is. So don’t be so quick to judge.
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/new-cafe-owners-struggling-to-recover-from-stigma-of-court-case-20141210-1242wh.html

+1 for Kevin’s Place.

A close second is Jimmy’s at Dickson. They lose half a point for loading the satay beef with onion to reduce costs. Last time I went there it was easily more than half onion, and they skimped on the sauce…so yeah. Kevin’s Place gets my vote. And I’ll probably learn how to use the delete key someday, too!

creative_canberran said :

Talkative said :

Oriental Terrace at Erindale has nice Chinese food.

Stopped going there years ago after the kids took over from the parents.

They were prosecuted under the Food Act, their name was recently removed from the ACT register after the normal name and shame period http://www.health.act.gov.au/public-information/businesses/food-safety-regulation/register-food-offences

Mysteryman said :

If you want something closer to authentic, Spicy Ginger near UniLodge used to be the place to go. They were the closest thing to authentic Chinese food I’ve had since returning from China. I haven’t been there in a few years though, so they may have changed.

Click the link above and you’ll find they were prosecuted for 4 offences under the Food Act dating back to 2011. Was reported a number of times in the Canberra Times, pics and all.

having been prosecuted under the food act is no barrier to a place continuing to offer delicious cuisine – for example, tak kee in dickson. prepared ducks in rear car park, apparently. probably what they do in china, and it’s also excellent there.

creative_canberran10:55 pm 26 Aug 15

Talkative said :

Oriental Terrace at Erindale has nice Chinese food.

Stopped going there years ago after the kids took over from the parents.

They were prosecuted under the Food Act, their name was recently removed from the ACT register after the normal name and shame period http://www.health.act.gov.au/public-information/businesses/food-safety-regulation/register-food-offences

Mysteryman said :

If you want something closer to authentic, Spicy Ginger near UniLodge used to be the place to go. They were the closest thing to authentic Chinese food I’ve had since returning from China. I haven’t been there in a few years though, so they may have changed.

Click the link above and you’ll find they were prosecuted for 4 offences under the Food Act dating back to 2011. Was reported a number of times in the Canberra Times, pics and all.

Mysteryman said :

Do you want *actual*, semi-authentic chinese-style dishes? Or the usual imitation Cantonese slop that 98% of place serve up (honey prawns, mogolian lamb, etc, etc).

Jimmy’s is fine if you’re after the slop.

If you want something closer to authentic, Spicy Ginger near UniLodge used to be the place to go. They were the closest thing to authentic Chinese food I’ve had since returning from China. I haven’t been there in a few years though, so they may have changed.

Also, forget every dumpling house in Canberra – they’re all garbage. Their dumplings have none of the presentation or flavour that dumpling are supposed to have.

Most will never have tasted anything else, so of course demand what they are used to.

As long as it tastes of salt, “She’s Great Mate!”

Most Chinese food served in Australian restaurants tastes similar to me. Same with Indian food, which to me mostly tastes all the same. I have had one or two pleasant exceptions, but they are rare. Dim sum is full of dumplings that are tasteless, starchy things. It is very likely I haven’t eaten in the right place, but with mostly, boring experiences, I have little incentive to try to search in case there is better. Often too much meat in the dishes too for my taste. I like lots of vegetables, but then the vegetable dishes are usually the most bland in Chinese restaurants.

Do you want *actual*, semi-authentic chinese-style dishes? Or the usual imitation Cantonese slop that 98% of place serve up (honey prawns, mogolian lamb, etc, etc).

Jimmy’s is fine if you’re after the slop.

If you want something closer to authentic, Spicy Ginger near UniLodge used to be the place to go. They were the closest thing to authentic Chinese food I’ve had since returning from China. I haven’t been there in a few years though, so they may have changed.

Also, forget every dumpling house in Canberra – they’re all garbage. Their dumplings have none of the presentation or flavour that dumpling are supposed to have.

HeighwayQueen said :

Kevin’s Place at Kippax is a must try. The Peking style Shredded Chilli Beef is amazing!
The restaurant itself is very basic but the food is amazing. The place is always busy.

That’s fairly typical of quite a lot of places. Basic, crappy decor, amazing food. The best Indian I ever had was at a run down place in the Caribbean with plastic chairs and tables, and a faded picture of the Taj Mahal on the wall.

HeighwayQueen1:22 pm 26 Aug 15

Kevin’s Place at Kippax is a must try. The Peking style Shredded Chilli Beef is amazing!
The restaurant itself is very basic but the food is amazing. The place is always busy.

MonarchRepublic12:04 pm 26 Aug 15

Have to throw a vote in for Regal Restaurant in Belconnen. It’s not trying to create the atmosphere of Sammy’s, etc, but it is very comfortable, clean, and acoustically sound – so very family friendly. And most importantly, the food is delicious, generous, and most items are available gluten free.

sammy’s, for the shantung chicken alone – but it’s all good; and speedy. or for traditional roast duck, tak kee in dickson. both places awesome.

+1 for Sammy’s. Popular for a reason.

0ur pick is The Dumpling Inn at Jamison the crispy beef strips in Peking sauce and the dumplings are winners and the all time favourite Sammy’s Kitchen in Civic love the shredded roast duck with rice noodles & best steamed dim sims in town. Enjoy!

Bambusa in Manuka- stellar Peking Duck, with the full 3-course experience. Great soups and dumplings too.

I’d love to see a Sammy’s Kitchen versus Jimmy’s Place taste off. My vote is for Sammy’s though!

I love sammys kitchen in civic, my favourite is the Deep fried boneless chicken with chilli Szechuan pepper. Yummmmm

Oriental Terrace at Erindale has nice Chinese food.

montana said :

If you want a nice quiet atmosphere with top class food and service, try The Chairman and Yip on Bunda Street.

3 strikes and they were out for me.

It was like digging through a Country Town Salt Mine.

That was a while ago but whilst it is popular I look at who is recommending it and have not changed my mind.

Holden Caulfield4:56 pm 25 Aug 15

+1 for Wild Duck.

If you want a nice quiet atmosphere with top class food and service, try The Chairman and Yip on Bunda Street.

Jimmy’s at Dickson used to be my favourite but I noticed last time I went that they have a new menu with less than half the dishes they used to have. Ginseng at the Hellenic Club is really good and – although it isn’t strictly Chinese – the Saigon Restaurant at Pearce Shops is also good with cheap prices and good food.

blandone said :

Bambusa, Manuka

I will second Bambusa. I was blown away by just how good they are.

Finding excellent Chinese in Canberra is not easy (frustrates my wife who is chinese), there have been the occasional shots at it and then fading, usually as the chef departs. As was the case with Mr Wei. When they started their dishes were absolutely exquisite, we ate there repeatedly.

Tang Dynasty in Kingston Foreshores is not bad and is currently running a discount on its Peking Duck.

We did Chinese New Year at Wild Duck Kingston, but were very disappointed in the food. The entertainment they put on was quite good though.

King Fook in Florey used to do an OK and very reasonable Peking Duck but there is no mention of it in their menu now, so maybe someone can let us know if it is still on.

For cheap and cheerful, I always enjoy going to Dickson Dumpling House – but as others have suggested, Jimmy’s is not bad either.

If the fine dining style of Chinese restaurants are included, then I think Wild Duck should definitely be considered. However, I don’t think its fair to compare a fine dining style restaurant with one that is not, so best leave that out for your comparison along with all the other new Asian-fusion fancy places.

My southside vote goes to Emporer Court in Yarralumla. They do well priced lunch meals and their duck pancakes are top notch.

My northside vote goes to Jimmy’s in Dickson. I particularly enjoy going there for mud crab.

There are quite a few others which are very decent and I have no hesitations eating at. I think you would do best to sample the top 10 over several weeks and do a more extensive review rather than just the two most suggested in the comments section here. You could even order the exact same dishes at each of the restaurants and compare apples to apples (best fried rice, best sweet and sour pork, etc)

Bambusa, Manuka

Kerryhemsley10:03 am 25 Aug 15

Jimmy’s at Dickson is not bad for the traditional Chinese restaurant experience.

Dame Canberra9:08 am 25 Aug 15

Noble Palace at Woden used to be my go to Chinese restaurant, and we’re still looking for a new favourite after it became Eastern Tiger a few months ago.

China Town at Cooleman Court is a good backup, but I’ll be watching this thread with interest!

a year ago I would have said Chinese Kitchen in Woden – simple, unpretentious, delicious food. But then they moved into their new premises, prices went up and it got super popular. and there’s something odd and uncomfortable about their tables – my 6 foot 3 other half can’t get his legs under the table!

so we’re, sadly, on the hunt for a new Chinese fav.

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