Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to the glory, the delight, and the sheer joy of Camy Shanghai Dumpling house. Camy Dumpling is my favorite place to eat in Melbourne. It's quick, it's easy, and it's really cheap, three of my favorite qualities in Asian restaurants.
This place is always busy. And I mean ALWAYS. The line of people in the photograph, this was on a good day, but it is worth every second of waiting.
An evil old man will come to give you a table. You will probably have to share that table with strangers, but no matter, we're all in the same boat at 8pm on a Friday night. The old man, probably the owner, is so highly strung it must be seen to be believed. I'm sure he will have a heart attack from the stress any minute now. The restaurant seats about 200, over two floors. I don't think I have ever had the same waitress twice, which makes me wonder what happens to them at the end of every night.
Every thing is strictly self-service, except the ordering and the cooking. Help yourself to a can of soft drink from the fridge, it will mysteriously appear on your bill. Grab your own bowls and dumpling sauce from the station, which is also the spot to indulge in endless free tea. That's right, unlimited, free tea.
The real reason to come here (apart from the obvious benefit of free tea) is the many varieties of dumplings available. You might like to sample my favourite, fried pork
($6.8, 15pce) or perhaps steamed prawn and chicken ($8.90, 15pce). Vegetarians will be pleased with the mushroom and vegetable dumplings ($6.50, 10pce). One day I will try the chilli oil dumplings ($6.50, 8pce), when I summon enough courage. Green vegetables with oyster sauce are a must, along with a little steamed rice.
There are of course non-dumpling related meals on the menu, it is just that I have never ordered them. There is a usual assortment of Chinese noodle and rice dishes, also at stupidly low prices. So low, I often wonder if all the staff are not kept prisoner and forced to work for free.
Camy is also BYO friendly, and has an unusual selection of beers available for purchase in house: Tsing Tao, Grolsh Premium, Tiger and Miller Draught, all $4.90 each, which is a lot cheaper than at the pub.
Honestly, the service is atrocious, the plates come to the table smudged and greasy, and after about 30 minutes the evil old man will start to circle your table like a vulture to get you to vacate, but I couldn't think of anywhere else I'd rather be for dinner on the weekend.
Shanghai Dumpling Restaurant
23-25 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne (China Town)
Ph: 96638555 – although if you can't speak Chinese, I wouldn't bother ringing.
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