Yep, it’s everyone’s favourite cheap ‘n’ dirty laneway restaurant. The food is cheap and tasty, the service is rude, the decor is ugly, the music is super-kitsch (and ‘Happy Birthday’ is usually played at least once during the meal), and I really fricken’ love this place. I think of it as a quintessential Melbourne experience. I hadn’t been for ages, so when The Socialist and I found ourselves in the city around lunchtime on Sunday, that’s where we headed.
I usually have a standard order: Mushroom and vegetable dumplings, Chinese broccoli with garlic sauce, and pumpkin cakes. Small or large depends on how many people are sharing, but it always comes out at under $10 per person (undoubtedly part of it’s enduring appeal). But on Sunday, neither of us felt like dumplings (unprecedented!), so I actually read the menu and tried out some new things.
I had the Shanghai Vegetarian Sliced Fried Rice Cake:
It’s basically glutinous rice cake, sliced up and fried with a few mushrooms and some Chinese Broccoli and a salty sauce (perhaps a little too salty). I absolutely adore glutinous rice cake things, although I’m much more familiar with it in Japanese sweets like mochi. This dish has a similar texture, only denser (and oiler and saltier and, well, savoury). I really like the blandness and guzshiness of the rice cake. I love tamales for the same reason, and when I lived in Canberra, I used to go to the Gorman House Markets nearly every Saturday and get a spinach tamale with chilli sauce and a ginger beer and sit on the grass in the sun to eat them. Good times. Anyway, inspired by the memory of yummy-bland-with-spice, I added a little chilli sauce to the rice cake and it really lifted the flavour.
We also got Chinese Broccoli with Garlic Sauce to share:
Oh my goodness, SO MUCH GARLIC. I love this dish! Steamed greens! Little baby corns! GARLIC!!! Very tasty.
And to finish, we had the Fried Red Bean Cake:
This was really similar to the taro cake, which I’ve had before, but I think I prefer the red bean. The filling has that wonderful mild sweetness typical of Asian deserts, and the pastry was crisp and crunchy (although it had started to go soggy by the time we got to the end).
The Socialist ordered the Eggs and Prawns with Noodles:
It which was basically a prawn omelette on noodles. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect everything else we had was vegan.
We ordered way too much food for two people, and it ended up costing around $15 each, which is a shocking! amount! to spend there. It’s not elegant or refined food by any stretch, but it is cheap, and it is tasty, and it feels like home. If home were full of rude people who harried you to leave as soon as you finished eating.
Camy Shanghai Dumpling Restaurant
23-25 Tattersalls Lane
Ph: (03) 9663 8555