Five of a kind: Asian festival events

Biggest Yum is an outdoor celebration of yum cha in the heart of Chinatown.
Biggest Yum is an outdoor celebration of yum cha in the heart of Chinatown. 

Biggest yum cha

Melbourne's famed Longest Lunch gets a little competition with the launch of this year's Biggest Yum, an outdoor celebration of yum cha in the heart of Chinatown. Dig your elbows in as three blocks of Little Bourke Street (between Spring and Swanston streets) are shut down while traders serve up a terrific lunchtime spread. Along with the food, expect a feast of performances, from the Lion Dance to a waiters' race in which hospitality's best and brightest will pelt to the finishing line while balancing cups of Chinese tea. Part of the money raised at the event will be donated to the Australian Prostate Cancer Research and Epworth HealthCare.
The Biggest Yum in Little Bourke Street, noon, October 11, bookings 0456 530 033. $79.

Bendigo banquet

Take a trip back in time to the early settlement of the Chinese in Australia with a historical and culinary tour of Bendigo. Jump on a V/Line train to the regional city with more than its fair share of Sino-Australian ties, from the Golden Dragon Museum (home to Sun Loong, the world's longest imperial dragon) to Cantonese cuisine. The latter is the main drawcard for this event, with a banquet lunch at one of Bendigo's culinary landmarks, The House of Khong. There will be time for a post-lunch stroll to explore some of the town's history before relaxing on the two-hour train journey back to Melbourne.
Ride the Rails Back in Time Bendigo, October 1, bookings 0418 589 778. $88 (including train ticket and lunch).

Dumpling lessons

Those keen to get their dumpling within the confines of their home kitchen will make a beeline for one of the city's better-known dumpling bars for a tutorial in mixing, dabbing and pinching Asia's most famed savoury pastries. Watch the professionals in action to learn the secrets of the light and swift touch involved with making these delicate morsels. After class, enjoy a Chinese feast: get stuck into the classic shao-long bao, sweet prawn dumplings or a left-of-centre spinach-stuffed boiled dumpling. Just be sure to leave room for the restaurant's signature Peking duck. Some money raised at the evening will be donated to the Epworth Healthcare's Department of Clinical Education and Simulation.
Educational Delights from the Asian Kitchen, Hutong Dumpling Bar and Restaurant, 14-16 Market Lane, city, 6pm, October 9, bookings 0418 589 778. $85.

Jump on a V-Line train to Bendigo for a Cantonese banquet.
Jump on a V-Line train to Bendigo for a Cantonese banquet. 

Progressive dinnerĀ 

Get into a bit of northern-hemisphere celebration at the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival progressive dinner at two of Chinatown's stalwart residents. One of China's most celebrated folk festivals, the Moon Festival centres on the offer of a moon cake sacrifice in celebration of the fable. This evening under the southern sky will begin with a classic Chinese soup and platter of mixed entrees at Chine on Paramount. Appetite whetted, it will be time to move on, lanterns in hand, to Shark Fin Inn and a traditional familial feast of Chinese desserts and, of course, moon cake: a cookie filled with (alternatively) nuts, sugar, sesame and egg yolk bearing patterns that speak to the festival spirit.
Mid-Autumn Moon Festival progressive dinner, Chine on Paramount and Shark Fin Inn, Little Bourke Street, 6.30pm, September 19, bookings 0418 589 778. $59.

Home base

Every good festival needs a home base and for this celebration of the culture and food of Asia, the bustling Paramount Centre is it. On the second Sunday of each month for the course of the festival, the Paramount in the heart of Chinatown will become a hub for foods, from the hawker-style eateries finding their reference in old Singapore; of craft in the Asian arts on display and for sale; and for entertainment, with Lion Dancing performances and instruction on learning to beat the drum, gong and cymbals. Special tours of the Chinese Museum adjacent will also be on offer. A special day-long event will be held at the beginning and end of the Asian Festival.
Paramount Centre Culture, Arts and Crafts Day, free, Food Court - the Paramount Centre, 108 Little Bourke Street, 10.30am-4.30pm, September 8 and October 13.