Five Best Kept Secrets of Sydney’s Chinatown

Strolling in Sydney’s Chinatown can be an intriguing experience no matter for tourists or Sydney residents. Put traditional Chinese architectures which may stimulate foreigners’ curiosity aside, Chinese cuisine, specialty gift stores and the night market rendered with Chinese alive and festive atmosphere are possibly the common hobbies that bring people to this rewarding place.

The gateway of Chinatown (Photo: Yan Xu)

A glance at Chinatown

Historically, the large-scale migration leads to the increasing development of Chinatowns in Australia. Nowadays, Chinatown has experienced a great change compared with the past, a “bridge” that connects the trade among the countries and regions, which should be owed to the rapid pace of globalization in the past few decades. One can say that this antique tourist attraction has gone through and witnessed the historical changing. Sydney’s Chinatown was initially located in the Rocks in the late 19th century. It did not establish its current location until the 1920s, namely Dixon Street, close to Central Station and Darling Harbour, which has become Australia’s largest Chinatown. There are two apparent traditional Chinese ‘Paifang’ at each end of the narrow pedestrian street, which separate the traditional street with metropolitan bustling streets. As a heritage that mixed diverse ethnic groups as well as past and contemporary Chinese cultures and several businesses districts, there is a lot to explore. In particular the unexpected popularity of Chinese food like steamed meat filled buns, pan fried pork buns, fried dumplings and Sichuan hotpot has made Sydney’s Chinatown be home to multi-culture and food paradise.


What to expect?

Emperor’s Cream Puffs, Meet Fresh, New Chilli House, Golden Harbour Restaurant and the night market in Sydney’s Chinatown are extremely salient among a variety of restaurants and scenic spots. What makes them mysterious and keep attractive for long, and how they help to make Chinatown an appealing place to go?

online pic. 1
Traditional Chinese food. source from:


the New Chilli House

When I walked into the New Chilli House, it was early morning, there are few customers. However, the waiters and waitresses have already started to clean up the restaurant, with Chinese pop music played. Then Vic came over, with a kind smile. Vic, one of the owners of the New Chilli House, when understood my purpose for coming here, felt so proud and patient. As he talked about the history of the restaurant, it only with a two-year history in Sydney’s Chinatown, but it has been one of the most popular restaurants in Chinatown, in particular in the evening, customs sit outside the restaurant, eat the food, chat and enjoy the night scene. Vic seemed quite pride and confident with the food. As he said that, “the majority of the restaurants in Chinatown are actually Cantonese cuisine, only our restaurant is the most traditional and authentic DongBei cuisine. I guess in the entire Sydney, you cannot find a much more authentic DongBei cuisine like in this restaurant”.

the New Chilli House. (Photo: Yan Xu)

When I asked about the special dishes in this restaurant, Vic said, “there are so many tasty food here. Steamed meat filled buns, pan fried meat filled buns, chicken and prawn dim sim and fried pork chives/cabbage dumplings. In order to meed different needs of the customers, we also have crystal prawn dumplings, although it is actually Cantonese cuisine, and steamed meat filled buns is Shanghainese food. But the most important is that we have hand-made steamed dumplings, which are the very traditional North food of China”.

“There is a little different of both Chinese and Aussie taste. We found that the majority of foreigners are actually quite fond of diverse kinds of Chinese dumplings, and also, our sizzling hot pots are quite welcome and popular among them. But for Chinese, they are more willing to choose simple home cooked food, special DongBei cuisine such as stir fried eggplant in mild spicy sauce, stir fried eggplant with potato and candied sweet potato are most Chinese choice”, Vic said, “that’s why we made two menus, one specifically designed for foreigners, the other is for Chinese based on such a difference, just for their convenience”.

“Why do you want to operate a restaurant here?” I asked.

“Haha, it’s a good place, isn’t it?”

“It may hard to say which can represent Chinese cuisine, I think the north and south of China food are quite different”, Vic pondered for a moment and said slowly.

Close to the mysteries 

In this narrow street, many seemingly unimpressive restaurants are unexpectedly with quite an impressive history. Precisely as the owner of the Golden Harbour Restaurant said with a proud tone, “we’ve already have a history of more than 27 years here”, with such a long history, this restaurant provides all kinds of traditional Cantonese dumplings, customers prefer enjoying them and siting outside the restaurant, blending with the vivid atmosphere just for a relaxed afternoon or evening. Emperor’s Cream Puffs, which merely provides one kind of desserts but quite popular here. Everyday, no matter Chinese or Aussie queue in line waiting for the oven-fresh sweet dessert. As a staff working here said, “almost everyday, since the early morning we open the store, people are already queue in line for buying the cream puffs”. Most of the time, foreigners are much more fond of the cream puffs. Diverse dumplings for foreigners are recognized as the representative Chinese cuisine. The night market gathered many people in Sydney’s Chinatown, people who come here may not consider too much, but precisely there are not much to think about, just the diverse food and a vivid and lively atmosphere that separate people with daily busy life.


Not the end 

After experienced a short “trip” lost in Sydney’s Chinatown, a real enjoyment for your stomach and mind. It may hard to generally conclude the characteristics of Chinese cuisine, in this narrow street filled with diverse food and scenes. Without too much concern, perhaps just lost in the place, that’s what we have fun and then enjoy the diverse life and the pluralism of culture behind.


(Yan Xu, SID: 460132848   Word count: 988)


5 thoughts on “Five Best Kept Secrets of Sydney’s Chinatown

  1. Finally here comes the long-anticipated article about the secrets of Sydney Chinatown! Thank you very much for that, Emily!

    It is a really engaging piece – I couldn’t stop reading it continuously till the end though Facebook notifications were trying to catch my attention. Content-wise, it is very comprehensive; every paragraph, if not every sentence, gives me additional knowledge. The only thing I would argue is that the body text does not address the “five secrets” promised in the headline. I understand that they might be hidden in the text, which I missed (apologies if that’s the case), but if I were you I would dedicate similar amount of attention / word-count towards each secrets, for example 150 words for each secret. It would also be beneficial to number them in the subheading to clearly identify that to the readers. Despite that, I like the way you presented the interview with Vic – in a lively and interactive manner.

    In terms of online delivery of the article, I think it would be better to adhere to the “chunk” principle – 30-word paragraphs separated by a line space, which was discussed in-class early in the semester. This is essential in online journalism since it is uncomfortable reading a bunch of condensed texts on screen. Despite that, I would like to compliment you for putting in quite a few subheadings so I’d know what to expect in leading paragraphs. You have some great images too.

    All in all, although there are one or two grammatical and spelling mistakes, it is indeed a very engaging and interesting piece.

    Thanks again!


  2. Thanks for your post, Emily.
    I have studied in Sydney for about one and half years, and I always go to Chinatown to taste delicious Chinese dishes because I am a Chinese, and Chinatown can give me a kind of feeling of my hometown, but I never go through Chinatown completely. Your description and introduction of Chinatown makes me very interesting and curious about Sydney Chinatown. Furthermore, your subtitle also breif and attractive. However, I want to give you some my own opinions about your story:
    Firstly, the theme of your story is about taking readers to understand and know Chinatown, but if there has some specific interesting stories happen in China town can be written in your story, which I think will be more interesting to read it, such as foreigners experience in Chinatown.
    Secondly, there has some grammar mistakes which I also have, if you can fix it, this story can be better.
    Anyway, it is an interesting feature.


  3. Everyone is commenting on this post, but I feel like I had to do it too because I’ve been waiting for this story!
    I know nearly nothing about real Chinese cuisine, but the little I’ve tried, I’ve liked it a lot, so this post picked my interest since you pitched it. I have also always wanted to go to a Chinatown restaurant, but because there are so many, I always felt overwhelmed and decided not to at the end. After this post, I might dare to go.

    I think that you did a good job at capturing the “atmosphere” of Chinatown. I liked the balance between the look-and-feel of the place, and the little history facts that you included. I think that your descriptions of the restaurants are pretty good too.

    Regarding the delivery of the story, there are a few things that could be improved. First of all, I think that your paragraphs are a bit too long in some cases. I felt that the story “flowed” better you had shorter paragraphs. Plus, reading a bulk of text is usually exhausting.

    I also would have liked to see pictures of the food from both restaurants, but I understand that you might have needed to purchase the food to do that.

    I would have added a subtitle for each “secret” too because the way the text is organised makes it look like there are only 2 secrets.

    And just a little recommendation of checking the grammar of your piece, because a couple of mistakes were distracting at certain points. However, it was a very interesting piece that has encouraged me to go to these restaurants.


  4. This seems a nice post. Thanks for your interesting poster, Emily. It is easy to know the whole structure of this article and the topic itself attracts people a lot.

    Firstly, it is nice to make use of pictures of food to attract people’s attention and help those who are not familiar with Chinese food to know more about it. Sometimes, especially in the online journalism, pictures speak more important than words cause reader want to get the information faster than reading print media.

    Then, i think it’s better to post videos on this article. There are some traditional buildings in China Town, so i think you can make use of them to show or present the view of China Town in a more active way.

    Besides, i find it’s a good way to give subtitle to each part of the poster. Reader can get your point and know what u really want to say during your article.


  5. Hey Emily,

    I really liked your idea of exploring the different and popular foods within Chinatown, especially since I don’t get the chance to eat there often myself, I think that there is a lot of interest and value in the story. I enjoyed the way that you described the atmosphere of Chinatown, it really captured the essence of it and also explained some history about the area that I didn’t know about.

    In terms of what could be improved in your story, I think it would have been a good idea to really delve into what the headline was offering, “The five best kept secrets” and go into depth about what foods were popular from which restaurants.

    I think if you broke the article up into clear sub-headings for each of the restaurants as well as clearer spacing in paragraphs could help prevent the large chunks of text that make the article slightly difficult to read through. Also the use of images of the specific dishes would have also helped readers engage more with the story, and potentially end up visiting those restaurants themselves. The inclusion of hyperlinks for each of the restaurants websites or Facebook pages (if they have one) could also help in the interactivity of the article.


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