Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle Restaurant

Has this restaurant been around forever? It certainly feels (and looks) like it. Even despite closing for “renovations” last year. Perhaps this is code for something else, as when they reopened, nothing had changed!

Eating here is like being part of an efficient factory line. Get in, order, eat, get out. There’s no niceties here, no waiting for you to digest your food over a drink and conversation. As soon as your chopsticks have been put down, you’ll be asked if you’re finished. Yes? Then what are you still doing here?

Let’s be honest. Camy does not make the best dumplings in the world. But they’re quick, and they’re cheap and there’s something about the place that’s good despite the daggy décor, and the abrupt service. Most occasions that we eat there, the bill comes to less than $10 per person (this occasion we were slightly over, $13.50 each, because we ordered beer). And sure, you may wait in the queue for 10 minutes, but you only wait a couple of minutes for dumplings to start arriving once you’re ordered. This time, I swear, it took one minute for our first plate of dumplings to be delivered. Obviously they’re not cooking them all to order!

Fried pork dumplings (15 pieces – $6.80)

Ahh… good old fried dumplings. With a slightly chewy skin, they’re usually not too oily. These are quite popular and they’re favourites for many people I know.

Steamed beef dumplings (12 pieces $6.80)

If you’re not that keen on fried dumplings, there’s also steamed dumplings. These ones are beef. They’re not bad, although I seem to prefer pork dumplings.

Steamed chicken and prawn dumplings (have forgotten the price!)

As you can see, there’s not much prawn in the chicken and prawn dumplings. I don’t find them as tasty as the other ones.

Chilli oil dumplings (15 pieces – $6)

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. These are pork dumplings floating in a soup slicked with chilli oil. There’s only the hint of heat in the chilli oil, despite the red slick.

Mushroom and vegetable dumplings (10 pieces $4.50)

The mushroom and vegetable dumplings are my second favourite ones at Camy. They’re chock full of garlic and onion and are a little sack of dumpling goodness. Mhmm hmmm.

Shanghai pork mini buns (8 pieces $6.50)

And finally the best is last – the Shanghai pork mini buns (also known as xiaolongbao in other places). The mini buns are little dumplings that are filled with meat and soup. The soup inside is made by placing a little bit of jelly inside prior to steaming. Once they are steamed, the heat turns the jelly into a liquid. Eating them can be a bit of a challenge – first, trying not to pierce the dumpling skin so you don’t lose the soup inside (hint: roll them on to a spoon), and second, trying not to burn yourself on the scalding liquid!

Although we didn’t have it on this occasion, the pumpkin cakes are also really good. They’re small, sweet, deep-fried morsels. We always order two plates and save them for dessert, managing to fit them in despite the plates of dumplings we have ingested!

Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle Restaurant
25 Tattersalls Lane
Melbourne 3000
Phone: 9663 8555

Oriental Spoon

Oriental Spoon

While some people crave chocolate, my cravings tend to be for savoury items like hot, fat chips or alternatively for spicy food. Food Safari the other night claimed that spicy food is perfect for hot, humid countries, as all the spices help stimulate the appetite. I don’t know if that’s true, but last Friday it was unseasonably wet and humid and all I wanted the entire day was spicy food. Lunch was with colleagues at a Korean restaurant, which kept me happy for a couple of hours. After work though, a few drinks with my Bro, Alastair and a couple of his colleagues started up my craving again. I had read Mellie’s review of Oriental Spoon a while ago, and it had been sitting on my list of places to try for months and months. Everyone seemed happy with my suggestion for Korean food, so we braved the heavy rain and headed to Latrobe Street.

Once there, everyone glanced at the menu, but they were happy to let me pick the food. I love doing the ordering, because I get to pick things that I want to try! After conferring with my Bro, we decided on three dishes to share amongst the five of us.

Jap chae

Jap chae

We didn’t wait long for things to start arriving. Soon the wait staff was filling up our table with rice and banchan, and we had to shuffle things around when the mains came so we could fit everything on. The first main to come out was the Jap chae – clear potato noodles pan-fried with thin slices of marinated beef and assorted seasonal vegetables in a sesame oil sauce ($16.90). Yum, yum, yum. The noodles were light in texture and carried the flavour of the sesame oil and the slightly sweetish sauce.

Soft tofu casserole

Soft tofu casserole

Next was the soft tofu casserole with seafood ($35.90). This was soft tofu with mussels, pipis, prawns, squid and vegetables prepared in a spicy soup. Alongside the seafood were enoki mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, spring onions, green chilli and a good dollop of spicy red chilli paste. Also sitting grandly in the broth was a raw egg. The casserole came out on a little gas burner, which was turned up at our table to let the soup heat. We got a bit distracted by the jap chae and other items arriving on to our table, and the egg quietly disappeared, slipping into my Bro’s stomach. Apparently he was doing us all a favour, as the egg had overcooked by the time he got to it.

But the star was the tofu, hidden underneath the seafood and vegetables. It was magnificent – so silky and smooth, and the kind of tofu that could even win over a tofu hater (not that I am one!). The soup was spicy and fishy and well worth the eating sweats that everyone got. Mhmm, finally my spicy cravings were sated. < Cooking meat

Meat cooking on the stone

Last was the combination marinated set – a combination of marinated beef, pork and chicken, stone grilled ($37.00). The stone was bought out to our table on a portable gas stove along with a small basket of red coral lettuce and sauce (that tasted like a slightly spicy hoisin sauce).

The waiter turned the stove on, returning later with a plate of meat that he laid onto the stone, along with two mushrooms. The mushrooms looked sad and lonely next to all that meat!



You’re supposed to smear some sauce on the meat and then wrap it in the lettuce, but the lettuce leaves were a bit small and not really suited to rolling. I preferred the meat and the tangy, salty banchan eaten with rice.

The remains

The remnants of the meat and marinade caramelised into a sweet, sticky sauce. We scraped as much off the stone as possible!

We rolled our way out of the restaurant to find that the rain had finally stopped. With my craving finally satisfied, I was a happy gal.

Oriental Spoon
254 Latrobe St, Melbourne
Phone: 9654 9930

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Last week was my b-i-r-t-h-d-a-y. I felt a teensy weensy bit glum about getting older but knew that dinner at a restaurant would perk me up.

Seamstress is located in a four-storey building on Lonsdale Street. In the building’s past, there used to be an undergarment manufacturer, guilders, and a sweatshop. Nowadays, there’s a basement bar, a ground floor kitchen, a first floor dining room and a top floor bar. We arrived around 8pm on a warm Friday evening and wandered upstairs to the first floor. I was a tad confused about where I was going (upstairs? downstairs?) and fortunately we were greeted by the staff on the first floor. It was still fairly quiet at that stage (it filled up later) and we were given a choice of two tables in the long room.


Excuse the terrible photos – I have a new toy and am still trying to get used to it!

As we perused the menu, we were bought a broth to sip while we decided on what to eat. I believe it was a lemongrass, ginger and chilli broth. I loved the little cups that they were bought out in. Too cute.

Service was very friendly and funky – and obviously kiwi. Our waitress was very chatty and recommended food and wines and explained how the menu worked. We took up a couple of her food recommendations and happily went with her wine recommendations.


Crispy calamari

We started with the crispy calamari ($14), the silken tofu treasure box ($14) and the pork belly ($16.00). The calamari was covered in a tempura style batter and served with a little bowl of five spice salt. It was presented on a piece of Chinese newspaper. The batter on the calamari was beautifully light and pale. I tried the salt but left it because I found it too salty and overpowering. In hindsight, it would probably have been a better idea to sprinkle the salt rather than dipping the calamari into it… duh.


Tofu treasure box

The tofu treasure box was a little hot pot of tofu and shitake mushrooms. I love those meaty shitake mushrooms. I liked it, but I would’ve liked the dish even more if the tofu was more silken than firm.

Pork belly

Pork belly

The last item we had before our mains arrived was the pork belly; long boneless strips that had been braised in a dark, sweet/savoury sauce. The sprouts sitting under the pork had absorbed some of the sauce from it and they were soft and tasty.

After our starters, our chopsticks were taken away and we were bought a knife, fork and a spoon. We ended up asking for our chopsticks back. :p


Braised beef cheek

Our mains were the braised beef cheek and the red duck curry. Rice came with the main meals. Now I know that the photo looks like a brown plop (must have lost my photo skills there) but the beef was gorgeous. It had been cooked for five hours with star anise and cassia (and possibly more spices) and was very tender, dark, sticky and fragrant. I grew up eating a dish similar to this, gnul nam, and it has always been one of my favourite things to eat. It was the first thing that I asked my parents to teach me how to make.


Duck curry

The red duck curry was served on a bed of beans and broad beans. The beans still retained some crunch and the duck was very tender and rather spicy! Fortunately, for this non duck lover, the meat didn’t taste very gamey.

Dessert 1

At the front L-R: Ginger jelly, pannacotta, pineapple jelly. Middle: rose petal fritters

We finished with a dessert tasting plate of desserts ($25). There was a pineapple jelly, ginger jelly, a pannacotta, rose petal fritters with mint cream and wild rice and coconut cream parcels in banana parchment.

Dessert 2

At the front L-R: pineapple jelly, rice and coconut cream parcels in banana parchment, mint jelly.

By the time we got to dessert, we had downed a couple of bottles of wine. So my memory of dessert? Not that great. So, what can I dredge out of memory to tell you… I preferred the ginger jelly over the pineapple, the pannacotta was smooth and silky, the rice and banana parcels were creamy and the parchment was strongly banana flavoured (strangely enough). My favourite was the rose petal fritter which looks like a brown plop in my photo. I hope this brown plop photo phenomenon of mine isn’t becoming a trend. It did look better in person!

All in all, I ended up having a good birthday dinner. It even made me feel better about getting older (the wine helped a lot).

113 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Ph: 03 9663 6363


We went to see the Priscilla musical the other night and it was fabulous! If you enjoyed the movie you will love the musical. The singing was magnificent, particularly by the three main female singers (who sang all the songs that Bernadette, Mitzi and Felicia lip sync to). The costumes were gloriously OTT. I couldn’t believe the amount of work put into some of them, particularly when several were only shown on stage for less than a minute. I was also happy to see that they had included the bus, Priscilla, on stage!

As we were going to be hanging around the city after work, we decided to go to Horoki for dinner. Horoki has been extensively reviewed, and considering what everyone has had to say about it, I have wanted to go there for quite some time. Even though it was still early when we showed up, all the tables were reserved, so we nabbed two of the red stools at the counter.

Not knowing the size of the dishes, we started with three.


Tuna carpaccio – tuna sashimi served in a light soy dressing sprinkled with a good parmigiano reggianio topped with a touch of mayo ($13.80)

The tuna was nice but I wasn’t sure about the cheese. I tried a couple of pieces with cheese but ended up brushing it off for the remainder. The combination of cheese and soy didn’t work for me.

Horoki soft shell crab

Crispy soft shell crab with lemon sour cream mayo ($13.80)

The crab was fried in a very light batter and was beautifully crispy. This was probably my favourite dish. We squeezed the lemon juice over it but I think we could’ve done without – there were a couple of patches that were a bit too sour. I still loved it.


Beef Tataki

The Beef Tataki was a special that night. The meat was seared, thinly sliced and then covered with the sauce. It was brilliant.

After our three dishes, we still wanted more. So more we had!

Horoki steak

Diced scotch fillet steak and potato with onion and wasabi sauce ($14)

Scattered amongst the tender morsels of steak was little pieces of fried garlic. When I ate a bit of steak with some garlic and wasabi – whoa! Hello flavour explosion!

Horoki pancake

Korean style pancake. Calamari and garlic chives mixed in Korean pancake batter and lightly fried. Served with a sesame and soy dipping sauce ($11.60)

I am a lover of crispy deep fried items (which partly explains my hot chips obsession) and this didn’t disappoint. The pancake was crispiness punctuated by moments of calamari.

Horoki duck

Roasted duck and eggplant. Slices of oven roasted duck and a bed of eggplant smothered in a delightful miso and honey sauce, with a hint of Japanese mountain pepper ($16.80)

I’m not a big fan of duck, but as duck goes, this was pretty good. It was tender and moist and I loved the eggplant, which was soft but not mushy. However, I thought the sauce was a tad salty, although if we had been eating it with rice it possibly would’ve been perfect.

Alastair was quite keen to keep ordering after all this (I think he’s come back from our trip with worms) but despite the speed of the service we didn’t have enough time.

Horoki dessert

We asked for the bill, and with it came a small serve of mango mousse. A little bit of sweetness to send us on our way. We were sweet on Horoki already, but what a lovely gesture.

19 Liverpool St
Melbourne 3000
Phone: 9663 2227

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Tiba’s Lebanese Restaurant

Tibas Lebanese Restaurant

In celebration of my Bro’s birthday in August, we took him out to dinner. Because it was a weekday, I didn’t feel like going somewhere too fancy, so I picked Tiba’s Lebanese Restaurant.

Well, it was a good thing I wasn’t looking for fancy, because Tiba’s certainly isn’t! The atmosphere was…… what’s the best word? Functional comes to mind! It was a bit like having dinner at someone’s house – someone who hadn’t decorated for a couple of decades. Still, we weren’t there for the atmosphere or interior design – we were there for food.

After perusing the menu, we decided on the set menu and chose Tiba’s House Special. I assumed that the price was per person, but it wasn’t – it was per serve. After a bit of confusion where we got the feeling that we only had ordered one House Special (we had), Alastair went to the waiter to clarify and settled on two serves of the set house special. He was told that three would probably be a bit too much for the three of us and that was good advice.

I really needed to eat – a strong coffee in the late afternoon had been churning my stomach and I was still feeling a bit nauseous. I kept being teased by the sight of food being bought out only to disappear around the corner. So when food arrived (after a couple of quick nasty photos of course) I started stuffing myself.

Because I was so focussed on eating, I don’t really remember exactly what we had… I know there was pita bread, and dips (hummus, tzatziki, & baba ganoush), dolmades, chickpeas, parsley salad (I’m still not sure if this was supposed to be tabouleh as there was no visible signs of burghul), garden salad, pickles, Lebanese pizza and falafel. While I was eating stuff individually, Alastair had the brilliant idea of sticking stuff in pita bread and wrapping it up. Just like a bought one!

Tibas Lebanese Restaurant

Then the meat came out – lamb, chicken, beef, sausage, some random meat on a stick, sitting on a bed of rice.

Tibas Lebanese Restaurant

And that rice – OH MY GOD. All the juice from the meat had soaked into the rice and it was so tasty. It was oily and meaty and delicious – I could’ve eaten a bucket of it. My only wish is that the rice had been a bit warmer. There is nothing like steaming hot rice straight from the pot or rice cooker. Mhmmmm.

It didn’t feel like I had eaten that much, but by the end of the meal we were all completely stuffed. Not that my full stomach stopped me from taking a small pack of pastries home to savour on the couch…!

Tibas Lebanese Restaurant

Tiba’s Lebanese Restaurant.
504 Sydney Rd Brunswick 3056.
Phone: (03) 9380 8425

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