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Chinese food in Australia ....

... How does it compare with the stuff found in the northern hemisphere?

Better than NYC? Or SF?

Better than Southern CA?

Better than Vancouver or Toronto?

Or does it make San Diego's Chinese food scene seem like Hong Kong west?

For those who know, where does it rank?

(and I don't mean "Chinese-Australian food" when I ask this question)

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  1. Australia has a huge Asian population. I've been told their Asian food (quality and selection) is amazing and doesn't begin to compare to what we have here in California. This is from my cousin (went to grad school there), and my uncle and brother in law who both live there.

    1. I had amazing Szechuan food in Sydney's Chinatown. Best I've ever had, and I've eaten in NYC, Toronto and San Francisco's Chinatowns, although not extensively.

      1. Ipsedixit..............
        I haven't been in about 15 years, but from memory the Regional Chinese Foods were very close to what I ate in China. The availability of fresh "Chinese" vegetables, etc was overwhelming in major Australian cities.
        The one 'disappointment' is that Classic Cantonese Chinese Cuisine was not commonly available. Most of the immigrants/Restaurantuers seemed to be cooking in the Szechuan, Hunan and especially Hong Kong style (with the pending return of Hong Kong to China from the UK).

        Was last in China and HK in 1997.

        9 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01

          I used to visit Hong Kong 3 or 4 times a year until around 1997 as well. I certainly wasn't as well informed on cuisines then as I am now, but I'd be interested in knowing how you'd differentiate between Hong Kong and Cantonese cuisines in those years. To my memory the influence of Canton in Hong Kong was so strong that I'd be hard-pressed for an answer.

          1. re: Midlife

            Back then, The Hong Kong Cuisine was more refined and cosmopolitan with almost 100 years of British Rule. It had far more seafood and less meat. The vegetables were cut and served in smaller pieces. Also, because of the British influence I remember far more dishes being brought to the table as servings for one diner. In Canton bowls tended to be brought to the table with family sized portions and it was expected all would share. More pork and chicken, rougher cut and larger vegetables.

            This is all memory, that can fade over time. I had been to HK in 1974, 78, 82, 85 and 97. We were in China itself for a month and visited (and ate in) many regions.

            1. re: bagelman01

              I don't recall much in the way of individual servings, but I was always there on business and large group dinners were always "family" style.

            2. re: Midlife

              I visited Hong Kong and Guangzhou before 1997. Back then, *some* HK restaurants were clearly influenced by the West--HK fast food in single person serving sizes. This was also true of the HK cafes.

              In Guangzhou, the food I had was a bit more exotic--civet, snake, cats, etc. My HK friends thought we were crazy to try those things. However, HK cooking has very strong roots in Cantonese cooking. We had many meals in HK restaurants that were nearly identical to ones that we had in Guangzhou and the surrounding countryside.

            3. re: bagelman01

              I'd totally disagree...a large percentage of Chinese restaurants in Sydney are CAntonese style ...especially in the suburbs ...perhaps the restaurants that get the critical write ups are not though.

              1. re: grapsta

                grapsta, I have no idea what the Chinese restaurants in Sydney "ARE"
                as my post started, i haven't been in about FIFTEEN years. I wrote about what I found then.

                So, as you are comparing apples and oranges and we have no time machine, there is no disagreement.

                1. re: bagelman01

                  fair enough ....but there would have been even more Cantonese and less Sichuan / Hunana back then. just saying .

                  1. re: grapsta

                    I was last there when the Uk was handing Hong Kong back to China. The previous few years there had been an influx of HK Chinese into Australia and they seeme dto be the dominant restaurant operators. I am not a particular fan of HK style Chinese food.

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      I have eaten a lot 'Hong Kong Style WESTERN Food' ( like Russian Borscht, Baked Tomato sauce Ox-tongue Spaghetti, Chicken a la king on rice..etc), usually serve in cafeteria style establishments.
                      But what is ' Hong Kong Style CHINESE food'??!! Considering there are so many Michelin star establishments in Hong Kong offering great Chinese food. Which area of these 'Chinese food' you do not like??!! Curious to know!!

            4. Ipse,
              Are you planning a visit to Australia?

              2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  We thank you in advance for exploring the cuisine. Happy journeys!

              1. How do I rate the Chinese found in the places listed above?

                1) Sydney, Melbourne in Australia. Sad to say, those I'd had in Perth, Brisbane or Adelaide weren't as good.

                2) Southern CA

                3) NYC

                4) SF Bay Area

                I'd not been to Toronto or Vancouver but understand from other Chowhounds that the Canadian cities have *much* better Chinese food than anywhere in the US.

                1. Honestly, I only like Chinese food in Sydney. I must have been going to wrong restaurants in the states (LA, NYC, SF, SD) and Vancouver, because they've all tasted too salty and/or goopy. I've quit eating Chinese food in the states because of that.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: SilverMoth

                    Don't give up on us baby (uh-oh, now I have that song in my head). There is a heck of a lot of that gloopy gross stuff here, but you will find gems if you keep looking. I live in a fairly small town (Chapel Hill, NC) and there is a restaurant here (Gourmet Kingdom) that has a Szechuanese chef and the food is fantastic. Maybe not quite up to what I had in Sydney, but seriously the second best.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Haha. I know and I live in Los Angeles. I'm sure there are some real gems out here but at this point I rather have good Thai food which appears to be easier to find than great Chinese food.

                      1. re: SilverMoth

                        I've thought, for a long time, that Chinese food is one of those things where individual preferences are usually the result of what you're used to, grew up on, etc.. In the US, Chinese food comes in basically two types: Americanized and "Authentic". There is good and bad preparation within each.

                        We have lots of friends who only like Americanized dishes like beef with asparagus, shrimp with lobster sauce, kung pao beef. Anything more 'authentic' seems to be out of their comfort zone. Having traveled a lot in Asia, and apparently having a wider food palate, I find those dishes can be well made but are very uninteresting at best. My usual quick-check is to ask whether the restaurant serves GaiLan or 'western' broccoli. If the latter, it doesn't mean the food will be badly prepared but will most likely be uninspiring, average fare.

                        So............... to me a general statement like "I must have been going to wrong restaurants in the states (LA, NYC, SF, SD) and Vancouver, because they've all tasted too salty and/or goopy." has to mean the diner is probably overly sensitized to a certain style of Chinese cooking. Salty and goopy are just not terms that I'd use to describe the vast majority of Chinese dishes, especially those I've been served at good 'authentic' restaurants.

                        Just my 2ยข.

                        1. re: Midlife

                          but salty and goopy are very often served at bad and inauthentic Chinese restaurants.

                          And the place I was talking about has GaiLan (and my favorite - kung pao lotus root) and makes it's own tofu.

                          1. re: Midlife

                            Perhaps. But even the good "authentic" restaurants I've tried just didn't do it for me, and I live in Los Angeles with access to all types of great cuisines. And I still have to say Sydney tops my list.

                            1. re: SilverMoth

                              I'm agreeing with you, although goopy doesn't seem at all authentic to me. Too much potato flour or corn starch maybe?

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Oh, I was replying to Midlife's comment. :)

                    2. That's so funny you mentioned this. I'm always telling my friends that the best Chinese food I've ever had. Hands down, was in Sydney, Australia. Better than the take out I used to get when I lived in NYC...better than NYC's Chinatown!

                      1. So far most of the exchanges I hear are comparison of Chinese food in 'China towns'!!
                        However, nowadays, almost all the great Chinese food establishments in major cities like LA, SF, NYC, Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney and Melbourne...etc have ALL migrated outside of the 'aged' Chinatown to the more modern suburbs!!
                        Anyways, back on track. Nowadays, Sydney and Vancouver, IMO, are the two major cities, outside of the Orient, that offer world class Chinese food, with Toronto a close second. In fact, Michelin star chef like Chef Tsang of the Hong Kong 2* Ming Court has moved to Sydney just last month!! That alone should elevate Australian Chinese food standard!!!!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          I wondered where Chef Tsang is working now. For the longest time, the *best* Chinese restaurant in Sydney is Golden Century. For past two decades at least, Golden Century is a de rigeur stop for *any* Singaporean holidaying in Sydney. Their must-not-miss dish is, of course, the gargantuan Tasmanian King Crab which sells for US$300 upwards each (a bargain indeed, compared to the prices we have to pay in Singapore for those beasts) - usually served cooked three ways: the last course being noodles cooked with the crab's roe and served in its massive shell - enough to feed 5 hungry diners.

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            David Chang's a big fan of Golden Century ...all the chefs love it because it's open till about 3-4am

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              I was wrong! I think Chef Tsang is working in Melbourne not Sydney. The luxury Langham Hotel there?!!

                          2. I've had some of the best Thai in my life in AUS but not much Chinese...I'm sure its around but I didn't see much..saw small take outs in Kings Cross...its been a couple of years.

                            Chinese is excellent in Vancouver.

                            Are you going to AUS...it is a lovely country.

                            1. the sweet and sour koala is delicious

                              1 Reply
                              1. Authentic Chinese food can be found in Australia. Melbourne has a high Cantonese population, and in more recent years, a lot more people from other parts of the mainland have been settling here too. The most amazing dumplings I've ever eaten are in Melbourne - small place started by a couple from Shanghai. Great Szechuan food too. Just need to know where to look. Just like in other cities around the world, the good and the bad are all mixed together.

                                1. In my opinion San Fran makes the ultimate Asian food from Vietnamese to Chinese