April 4, 2021

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Most come to Cairns for the incredible sights, the magic of the Great Barrier Reef, and endless list of things to do. But once they arrive, they soon begin to discover some of the best Asian food in Cairns which looking for ways to extend their visit.

If you’re a lover of Asian food, I’ve got you covered!


best asian restaurants in cairns

I’m going to break down my top recommendations for the best Asian food in Cairns. So, no matter what your flavour is – whether it’s Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Balinese Indian or Thai, you’re tummy is going to be singing with happiness!

Okay… Hold onto your taste buds… Let’s break down the best Asian food in Cairns!

Best Chinese Food in Cairns

Best Yum Cha In Cairns (Dim Sum)

The Golden Boat Chinese Restaurant has always been our go-to for yum cha (dim sum) in Cairns.

We’ve tried a number of other places, but the experience has never been as good as it has been with the Golden Boat.

Best dimsum in Cairns at Golden Boat Chinese Restaurant
Yum Cha (Dim Sum) at Golden Boat Restaurant in Cairns

Many other restaurants offering yum cha do not have the trolley bringing food around to the tables, but rather you order what you wish to eat from a menu as if it were a’ la carte. 

While the food is typically still very good, there’s something magical about having a true yum cha experience with the food presented before you to choose from the trolley.

Best Chinese Dumplings in Cairns

The Dumpling Studio can be found at the bottom of the unassuming Sunshine Tower Hotel on Sheridan Street. 

The Dumpling Studio is not always busy, but I have to believe it is still somewhat of a hidden gem, because we are consistently impressed during our regular visits…

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time..

Check out the chefs at the Dumpling Studio hand preparing some delicious Xiao Long Bao dumplings (Shanghai Dumplings)…

You’ll find more than their juicy handmade dumplings on offer, with a delicious beef brisket soup, BBQ Pork, duck, and so much more – enough to keep everyone in the family happy.

Best Chinese Hot Pot

A few years ago, Suan Suan opened its doors. This Chinese Hotpot restaurant took Cairns by storm and quickly became a popular choice among locals and tourists. 

The menu has a great range of meats including wagyu, fish, pork, chicken and lamb, as well as many vegetables, mushrooms, noodles, eggs, and so much more.

best chinese hotpot in Cairns with corn and wagyu beef
Best Chinese Hot Pot in Cairns – Suan Suan

Best Chinese Restaurant in Cairns

Xanadu is found in Edge Hill on Collins Avenue, just beyond the Cairns Botanical Gardens. Its location outside of city limits mean that it’s normally just locals that dine there. 

So I’m letting you in on this little secret!… You’re welcome!

Their food is always consistently delicious, and the service always comes with a warm smile, which I’m sure you’ll agree can make the world of difference.

Best Japanese Restaurants in Cairns

Best Ramen in Cairns

Ganbaranba Noodle Collosseum is a tiny little restaurant in the heart of Cairns City. It’s store probably only seats around 20 – 25 people, including the stools at the bar… But it’s popularity means that it is ALWAYS busy. 

And lets be real, we can’t have a post about the best Asian food Cairns has on offer and not hone in on ramen!

Bowl of ramen with pork, mushrooms and egg
Best Ramen in Cairns | Ganbaranba

Don’t be surprised if you’re walking down Spence Street and see a group of people huddled out the front, waiting for their ticket number to be called… indicating that it’s their turn to order their small bowl of heaven. 

The staff call out your order to the chef in Japanese, and it has a truely authentic feel. 

Ganbaranba is hands down one of my favourite restaurants in Cairns… It’s worth the wait on the street!

Best Japanese Restaurant in Cairns

O ‘Cha Cha is the only Japanese Restaurant in Queensland, Australia to have been officially accredited as an Authentic Japanese Restaurant by the Japanese Government Approval Nintei Nihon Restaurant since 2017. 

twice cooked pork belly from the best asian restaurant in cairns | O Cha Cha
Twice Cooked Pork Belly at O Cha Cha Restaurant in Cairns City.

We visited O’Cha Cha for the first time recently and were completely overwhelmed by the quality and variety of food. 

You’re unlikely to stumble across this small, intimate restaurant unless you’re looking for it.

Head down Lake Street (from the corner of Lake St and Spence Street). Beside the Golden Boat Chinese Restaurant, you’ll find a staircase leading you upstairs into the building. At the top, you’ll find O’Cha Cha waiting for you…

Best Korean Restaurant in Cairns

My husband is a mad foodie for Korean food, and with many options available in Cairns, he had a hard time choosing his favourite Korean restaurant. 

When it came down to the wire, he said he would probably choose MAN:DO out of love for their spicy rice bowls and fried chicken and beer. Coming in a close second was MOIM Restaurant, just two blocks down on Spence Street. 

If you’re a lover of Korean food, you’ll find no shortage in Cairns, and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

Best Korean BBQ In Cairns

Over the last 7 years or so, there has only been one true Korean BBQ restaurant, however it closed shortly after we moved here – which was very disappointing! We love a good K-BBQ! 

But about a week or two before writing this blog post, a new Korean BBQ restaurant called BBQ Boy has opened, although we have not yet had a chance to dine there. (I’ll be sure to update this post once we have the opportunity). 

I’ll keep you updated!

RELATED POST: The Best Steak Restaurant In Cairns That Every Meat Lover Should Visit

UPDATE: Last night we had our first experience at BBQ Boy Korean BBQ in Cairns City… Thoroughly Impressed.

Between four of us, we enjoyed the Beef Set and Pork Set, and it came with wagyu steaks, a range of pork cuts, soups, sides, and a gazillion dipping sauces and kimchi. The amount of food was spot on for the four of us.

Banquet Spread at the best Korean BBQ restaurant in Cairns | BBQ Boy
Korean BBQ Spread at BBQ Boy, Cairns

The restaurant was even thoughtful enough to provide us with a small wire basket to put the meat that was already cooked to keep it warm without it burning. Love this idea!

My only feedback would be that the restaurant could do with a little more ventilation as they didn’t have the vacuum fans over the hotplates like many other Korean BBQ restaurants we’ve been to have had.

We also found it amusing that they had just one sparkling wine (with no real indication of what type), but they had a full range of soju to choose from… A clear sign of a truly Korean experience. The soju was super tasty btw!

Best Cairns Vietnamese Food

Pho Viet (Pho)

Pho Viet on Abbott Street (next to Outback Jacks) in the city has been in Cairns longer than we have.  Truth be told, I rarely venture much further than the beef pho, because it’s genuinely that good. 

The restaurant has a very relaxed vibe. I guess you could say it is similar to what you would expect from a restaurant in Vietnam. 

I highly recommend Pho Viet for any pho lover visiting Cairns.

Rendezvous Du Vietnam (Other)

Rendezvous Du Vietnam is a newer kid on the block compared to Pho Viet, but they certainly hold their own. 

The chef responsible for all of the meals, and did his training in Vietnam. This was clear in the quality of his meals. 

If I have a craving for Vietnamese Bun Cha, pork chop, or anything else, I go to Rendezvous. 

Bun Cha from Rendezvous Du Vietnam with peanuts and sauce
Bun Cha Vietnamese Food from Rendezvous Du Vietnam, Cairns City

The restaurant itself is much larger than Pho Viet, and has been set up to be less casual – more suitable for the celebration of a birthday or a nice night out with family and friends. 

Make sure you ask the owner for a lemon ice tea… it’s a regular favourite of mine!

Pho Viet Orchid Plaza (Banh Mi)

My husband came home the other day with a Banh Mi for lunch.  He offered me a bite of his and he’s lucky he got any more of it back. 

I asked him where he got it from.

He told me it was from Pho Viet inside Orchid Plaza (different to the one I mention above). 

This was the first time I’d eaten from this restaurant. I had assumed it would be identical to the other Pho Viet, but the Banh Mi was incredible!

It was filled with crispy roast pork and full, vibrant flavours. 

I wouldn’t typically recommend a restaurant from one bite of one dish, but I couldn’t possibly leave it out of this post.

Best Thai Food in Cairns

I had trouble trying to decide on what we would consider to be the best Thai food in Cairns. And so we decided to add a second restaurant on this list, rather than omitting one of our favourites.

True Thai

True Thai is tucked away in the Civic Shopping centre across from Munro Martin Parklands beside the Dominos Pizza. 

It is only a small restaurant, but the food that comes out of the kitchen is consistently amazing! 

The Penang Curry and the Pad Thai are two of our favourite dishes from True Thai and ones we highly recommend!

Poemphun Thai Restaurant

Poemphun Thai is located a little further out from the Cairns City Centre on Sheridan Street. 

The restaurant is a little bigger, and is always busy.  Poemphun has been our choice for Thai takeaway for many years, although this is certainly rivalled by True Thai. 

I highly recommend the Tom Yum soup, the Crispy Bork Belly, the Rad Nha and the Clear Noodle Soup.

Best Balinese Food In Cairns

You’ll find the Bayleaf Restaurant directly across the road from the Cairns Base Hospital, as part of the Bay Village Tropical Retreat.

Dining at the Bayleaf Restaurant is a real experience! You’re surrounded by garden fire torches and tropical decor. The chefs from the restaurant take guidance from their head chef who trained in culinary school in Bali.

Spread of Balinese Food Banquet
You’ll find the best Balinese food in Cairns at the Bayleaf Restaurant.

The menu is made up of a whole range of different Balinese style curries, seafoods, rice dishes and satays… all of which are traditionally prepared.

Do yourself a favour…

Order the Sate & Sambal Kacang (A mix of chicken, beef and pork satay skewers). You will not regret it!

Best Indian Restaurant in Cairns

There are many Indian restaurants in Cairns, but my favourite lies in Marinades, located on Spence Street in the Cairns City. 

The meals are always super flavoursome and very generous. 

The chefs are true veterans to Indian cuisine. They focus their efforts on creating food which is not only diverse, but also truly authentic. 

This has clearly been effective considering they have been offering heart-warming Indian food to the Cairns community for over 20 years.

Final Thoughts on the Best Asian Food Cairns Has On Offer

Cairns has a lot of different options for Asian restaurants… and it was certainly a challenge for me to choose what I consider to be the best Asian cuisine Cairns has to offer (based on cuisine)… but here you have it. 

Have you tried any of the restaurants listed in this post? If so, leave a comment below with which restaurant is your favourite! 


best Asian food Cairns in cairns Pinterest Pin
Best Asian Food Cairns Has To Offer – Pin For Later!

About the author 

Kate Mannion

Hi, I'm Kate! Mum of 2, and Cairns local for the last 7 years. I love taking photos (although I still have a lot to learn) and taking the drone up to see this beautiful region from a different perspective. I hope to help you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience while visiting the region! 

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