Shanghai Dumplings – Dinner – Melbourne

Whenever I head to Melbourne, I always stop by here. For food and for entertainment.

The food is good, quick and cheap and the service is atrocious. Which is part of the charm really – especially if there’s a birthday in the house because they will play the loudest, lamest ‘happy birthday’ song, and if there are several birthday boys & girls in the restaurant, you’ll have the pleasure of hearing it 3 times in 20 mins.

It’s always a pleasure to bring Shanghai Dumpling first-timers here without telling them what to expect of the service. Admittedly, I think the staff do play it up a bit as its service is now as infamous and the food is famous but still, a good laugh to be had.

The night that we got here, there were only 2 bunches of people waiting before us so it wasn’t long until we got a table (usually on a weekend, the queue snakes outside).

As we’re seated, we’re brusquely told that we can choose between the usual menu or they have a special all-you-can-eat set menu (12 dishes) for $15.

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which option we chose.

2 seconds after we choose, the waiter scribbles it down on our bill, sticks it under the plastic table cloth and we instantly receive 3 plates, piping hot from the kitchen.

Steamed Pork Dumplings

The kitchen was buzzing – wait staff were constantly going in and out laden with plates of food. No explanation of what the dish was, just plonked down and away the waiter went. Using some detective work, we figured out it was steamed, filled with pork and a dumpling.

Pumpkin Cake

It didn’t seem to matter what order things were given to us – if it came out of the kitchen, it ended up on a table. Hence a “dessert” dumpling came 2nd to our table. I didn’t try it as I didn’t want to move onto sweet food so soon in the meal.

Spring Rolls

Crunchy and oily, what more could you want from a spring roll?

Greens with oyster sauce

Some token greenery to make you feel like you haven’t just eaten a jar of MSG or swallowed a vat of oil.

Fried Rice

Had the option of veggie fried rice or eggy fried rice (or as it’s all-you-can-eat, could have got both) but went for the eggy one. Toss over some soy sauce and it’s great.

Fried Noodles

Salty and greasy – bit of soy sauce and it was fine.

Vegetarian Buns

Feeling a bit bereft of any nutritious vegetables, we decided on choosing vegetarian buns (instead of beef/pork).

Mushroom & Vegetable Dumpling

Again, a few more veggies on the palette – the dumplings are also quite good.

Prawn & Spinach Dumpling

A meal of dumplings isn’t complete for me until I get something with prawn in it (usually ha gow), so even though we were stuffed, we still asked for some. Nice juicy prawns, I could have gone another plate. :)

By this point, we were all too full to try any of the dessert items on the menu (besides the pumpkin cake at the beginning). There were also a few savoury items on the menu that we didn’t get around to trying either (e.g. spring onion pancakes) but the things we did try were pretty good for the price.

Having had all we could eat, don’t think you can just sit around digesting either.

We are barked a sharp order of ‘You pay now! Pay downstairs’. There’s no lingering around to enjoy the ambience (nor is there any ambience).

Service

It’s not spiteful, deliberately rude or anything like that, it just seems that efficiency trumps everything else. I’m sure there’s also the language issue as well, the staff communicate to get the point across, saying ‘please’ and what not is a waste of time and money.

Service on this occasion - I wanted some water and was vaguely gestured towards a self-service tea dispenser – the tea was so tasteless, it was like drinking hot water so I suppose technically it was water. Upon trying to get some cooler water, I’m told they don’t do tap water! (really? they have no taps in the place?) so we make do with hot “tea”.

As we’re nearing the end of the meal, after consumption of much soy sauce, one of my dining companions decides to ask if they sold bottled water. The response was that bottled water was not good value ($3.50), she could get a coke for the same price. My dining companion was adamant that she appreciated the chat on value for money but water was what she wanted. The waitress wanders off before returning later to say that they were out of bottled water and could still get her that bargain coke instead. We decided we’d just go to a convenience store after (there was one very close by).

Service on previous occasions:

  • My dining companion ordered a drink which never showed up. When she managed to get a hold of the waiter to ask him about it, he promptly said it was sold out & crossed it off our bill.
  • My dining companion, being the last of us to finish her meal, was polishing the last of her dumpling soup with spoon still in her mouth when an over-eager waitress took the bowl away from her, depriving her of the remainder of the meal and clearing our table. It’s not like my companion could get the bowl back as the waitress had thrown tissues into it.
  • Having a menu grabbed out of your hands with the wait staff claiming 1 menu was enough for the table
  • etc

Lowdown:

The good – I gotta say, I enjoy the rude service for entertainment value. Plus the food is great value.

The mediocre -

The bad -

Details:

Camy Shanghai Dumpling Restaurant

25 Tattersalls La, Melbourne

Phone: (03) 9663-8555 – Bookings recommended for dinner on weekends but they don’t accept bookings for <6 people.

Camy Shanghai Dumpling on Urbanspoon

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