[Food Stuff] Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle House
Waiting at the front door of Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle House’s brightly lit hall filled with students, after-work-suits, and seasoned weekend partiers who are lining their bellies for the hours ahead, another flurry of dumplings lands in front of us and teases my growling stomach. The waitress raises her head to us and shows us the ‘peace’ gesture.
A quick nod and she mechanically scurries towards the back of the dining hall, weaving between plate-balancing-waitresses and cup holding patrons. She reveals a damp tea towel to wipe the spills and scraps from the table’s plastic covering. Then, in one swoop, menus come off a nearby pile and are plotted in front of us. It’s almost mechanical.
Whilst a friend attempts to lift the menu off the damp plastic sheet, I proceed to the self-serve tea and soy sauce section which is not so conveniently located at the front of the restaurant. Pooh! Negotiating my way through this Friday evening traffic in what appears to be one of the most popular Chinese eateries in Melbourne has become an adventure. Oh no, the trip back with hot tea and soy sauce. I suppose it’s kind of funny…
Somehow returning with my shirt and skin intact, a waitress approaches our table and asks if we’re ready to order. Whilst my curiosity is to point and ask about the meals surrounding us my friend notices the waitress peering at a small crowd gathered by the door and hastily orders. After a scribble on her notepad and a few gentle nods, the watiress slips a token of numbers under the ever involving clear plastic sheet. Also under these sheets are listings of beer available. Woah! Watch the corkage though…
After barely a moment, a plate of the signature dish is placed upon us; a plate of hallow fried pork dumplings (chicken and beef are also offered). Mechanical. Just a quick warning with these, do not get too excited otherwise you will singe your mouth. The garlic chilli sauce and the soy sauce combination is special and serves as a tasty dip that blends well with the ginger aroma busting from each dumpling. As the Shanghai fried noodles come out, they threaten to fly off the plate. Quantity is something your hunger will not be starved of here. Packed on a plate, these consist of meat, cabbage, baby corn and button mushrooms all cooked stir-fry style. The smoky flavor and the varying textures of the Chinese vegetables makes this a pleaser. Steam pork and prawn won-tons come out (a not too distant) last. A traditional method of Chinese cuisine is to add prawns to sweeten the flavors of meat dishes and giving a light and tender texture to the food. With a dash of the black vinegar, these tiny little balls of meat and spices wrapped in egg noodles are packed with flavors.
By now a level of contentment with my own existence has crept into me, yet I’m not certain that I’m satisfied. Perhaps the mind called to the food to move down the aisle for some more to board. Either way I’m already feeling regretful as I grab the menu for a second look: vegetarian duck (interesting), Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce (sounds naughty), the Dan-Dan noodles (picture spicy bolognaise sauce on thick udon noodles), mushroom dumplings and pumpkin cakes. After deciding that it would be disgusting to order all of the things, my friend and I choose the mushroom dumplings. Like the other dishes, these come out in no time and there are around 20 of them on the plate. By this stage, the aisles were full but we were determined to get them in. Finely chopped with a hint of chives, one couldn’t ever imagine finding a mushroom dish as tasty as these. The hint of sweetness remained with the after taste.
We have to leave. Not so much due to time management or a busy schedule but our empty plates have been hastily removed just as quickly as they landed. So despite the lack of a relaxed atmosphere, Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle House can’t be faulted on the speed of service, nor the prices (an average place cost around $6 to $8). At around $13 per stomach the cost of a full meal is absurdly cheap.
As we walk toward the counter, dodging newcomers and feeling as though we are part of the production line, I can’t help but notice the hungry eyes near the door, bopping around, looking at us.
Put your sensibilities aside, watch your shirts/blouses and just enjoy.
Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle House
23-25 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne