Brisbane has always turned out a good Chinese restaurant. In recent years, though, the options for a Friday night feast have become far more sophisticated, with more Hunan and Shandong cuisine joining the longstanding Cantonese and Taiwanese-influenced offerings peppered throughout the city.
Billy’s Pine and Bamboo Chinese Restaurant
Billy’s Pine and Bamboo has been a favourite among neighbourhood families for decades thanks to its three-course duck extravaganza. There’s some fabulous theatre here, as waitstaff tune out the busy restaurant to carefully carve the bird at the table, slicing away the fat. Over the years, owner Billy Wong has introduced other signatures, such as the Picnic Chicken, finished with a fragrant sauce of soy, sesame oil, coriander, garlic and chilli. The restaurant itself is nothing to look at but always full – best book ahead.
7/968 Wynnum Road, Cannon Hill; (07) 3399 9095
Sichuan Bang Bang
When Renata Roberts first opened Sichuan Bang Bang in the outer western suburb of Kenmore, locals refused to believe what she was serving real Chinese food. That’s how confronting her authentic Sichuan cuisine was to anyone raised on sweet and sour pork. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for people to realise that dishes such as chewy, fatty Mongolian lamb ribs and wok-fried eggplant in chilli sauce were seriously tasty. The moody digs and slick, efficient service did the rest.
8 Wongabel Street, Kenmore; (07) 3378 8389
If you’re not familiar with Hunan cuisine a trip to Red Hut in Spring Hill can end in literal tears – there’s some real heat in these dishes. Still, if you can hack the chilli – or your can get past the embarrassment of asking the chef to abstain – this is fabulous food. Simple standards such as sizzling beef and eggplant become revelatory thanks to the fistfuls of cumin the chefs love to throw into the mix.
485 Boundary Street, Spring Hill; (07) 3108 5649
An immediate hit when it opened in Spring Hill in 2014, Happy Boy’s 2017 move to larger premises in Fortitude Valley hasn’t dented its popularity with Brisbane’s bright young things. Owners Cameron and Jordan Votan definitely don’t cut corners with their provincial Chinese menu; the red braised pork belly, in particular, is exceptional – maybe the best in town. Cameron’s second concern, a wine business, means the restaurant boasts a deceptively fine list.
East Street, Fortitude Valley; 0413 246 890
Yum Yum Peking Duck
It might be a 30-minute train ride out of the city centre but the tiny Yum Yum Peking Duck is worth the ride. The restaurant specialises in multi-course meals of duck, which always arrives at the table with perfectly crisp skin. Still, don’t forget to order at least one non-avian meal from the rest of the menu – perhaps a spicy pork hot pot? Visit during the day to take in the neat surrounding hamlet, a hub for Brisbane’s Vietnamese and Chinese communities.
5/146 Scotts Road, Darra; (07) 3217 0188
Bamboo Basket Chinese Restaurant
Best known for its dumplings, a favourite pastime of tourists in South Brisbane is to stop outside Bamboo Basket’s long bay window and watch the Shanghainese chefs busily pinch them into shape. But this Grey Street eatery is also popular for its hand-pulled noodle soups and a bunch of provincial favourites done very well. Think wok-fired green beans, braised pork belly and crisp-skin duck. A generous meal for two will barely eclipse $50.
1003-1004/199 Grey Street, South Brisbane; (07) 3844 0088
Little Red Dumpling
There are several outlets of this jazzy little restaurant but our pick is the original in Sunnybank Hills – it’s a great jumping-off point to explore Sunnybank proper, often referred to as Brisbane’s “real Chinatown”. Come for the plates of xiao long bao, pan-fried dumplings and provincial dishes such as spicy cumin-flavoured lamb ribs. Rumour has it it’s a favourite haunt of artistic director of the Queensland Ballet, Li Cunxin, too.
19/663 Beenleigh Road, Sunnybank Hills; (07) 3162 2993
For years, Brisbane got the beer, Tsingtao, but not the cuisine from the northern Shandong province of China. So Qingdao-native David Wang decided to open his own restaurant, Fat Dumpling. Wang now oversees two joints in Fortitude Valley but his Brunswick Street original is the best. With its bare brick, low lights and buzzy atmosphere, it’s the perfect start to a night out in the grungy entertainment precinct. The dumplings are superb: oversized, handmade numbers that burst with flavour.
368 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley; (07) 3195 1040
Top image: Happy Boy