Chinese is one of the most ancient and varied cuisines in the world, yet it often gets oversimplified in Australia. Cantonese and Sichuan may be the most prominently represented of China’s regional cuisines in Melbourne, but they’re just two of “the eight great cuisines” (the others are Jiangsu, Zhejian, Fujian, Hunan, Anhui and Shandong).
It’s actually uncommon to group the food of the country’s regions together. Despite Australia’s long history of Chinese immigration (which started in the mid-19th century), it’s only in the past few years that we’ve seen dishes from some of China’s lesser-known cuisines make appearances in Melbourne. And they’re still mostly bound to Chinese-community enclaves such as Springvale or Box Hill.
Whether you’re looking for a hearty Middle-Eastern-inflected stew (commonly served in China’s far-west), a fiery Sichuan hotpot or a basket of the best xiao long bao in town, there’s a place in this guide for you.