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Best everyday Chinese in Melbourne


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Inspired by the Good Chinese in Sydney thread nearby, I'm curious as to everyone's opinion about the best everyday, good value, real-deal Chinese all around Melbourne. There's plenty of info about how to suss top-dollar, big night out Chinese, but I'd love to be tipped on to some less-heralded gems around town.

Just to contradict my own rules, I'll kick off with two that are well known and much-heralded, but I offer them as an illustration of what I think is pretty much stellar chinese food for the dollar charged: Camy dumplings & noodles, and Supper Inn, both within spitting distance of one another in chinatown. I literally am unable to make it past one or the other of these two spots when I'm in the city. And you'll walk out for about 10, 20 bucks, around that, completely full, fat(ter) and happy.

I work near Footscray, and I like Hong Kong BBQ (not sure if that's exactly it), and New Aberdeen, both right across from the market

I haven't found one in the inner north where I am (Brunswick, Northcote, Nth Fitz, Carlton Nth), mainly because, I've been burned too many times and have basically given up trying. Malaymas on St. George's Road and Holden I think is great for malaysian/chinese, but there i go again, breaking my own rules.

Love to hear your thots & recos...

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Pacific Seafood House in Richmond is my pick for cheap Chinese food. Their roasts are excellent.

Is Camy's Noodles and Dumplings a small chain? I went to a place with a similar name in Box Hill. The food was cheap and tasty, although the spring rolls were rubbish.

Also, Dumpling King in Box Hill isn't bad either.

Since Box Hill is only a ten minute drive from where I live, I'll be doing a bit more exploring in the area.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Is Camy's Noodles and Dumplings a small chain?

Camy isn't a chain so far as I know, certainly doesn't look like one... just that great, old-school red-plastic backed chairs and torn, stained vinyl tablecovering. Always packed. The soup dumplings ("Shanghai Pork Mini bun") are as good as i've had anywhere, but really I haven't found anything to be a miss on the menu. Tattersalls Lane is parallel to Swanston, first lane to the east, from memory.

Pacific House is great, and the other spots you mentioned I've heard good things too... Dumpling King is the one that always gets good press for their yum cha, right? I'll have to make my way out the Eastern soon and give it a try.

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May I ask what the Melbourne consensus is on the "Spicy Fish" restaurant on the main Chinatown strip (think it's Little Bourke; showing my ignorance here, I know)?

I'm quite fond of the place for one reason, and that's the spicy fish soup. Two of us went there recently for a quiet dinner for two, and the fish soup was an oversized pot of eye-tearing goodness. It was hot as all hell but tasty to boot, and it was so big that we ate our fill at the restaurant and managed to take home three takeaway containers full of beansprouts, fish pieces and broth.

The accompanying dish of snake beans and chilli minced pork was undercooked and brooked no comparison to the spicy fish.

Good value too, for $28.00 for the fish, you could feed an army, and we actually managed to feed said army the next morning with the leftovers. You could get out for around $14 - $18 per head, stuffed.

Edited by Julian Teoh (log)
Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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I'm quite fond of the place for one reason, and that's the spicy fish soup.

Sounds like a good reco Julian, I’ll tear myself away from the other two mentioned and give it a shot. You’re right, it is right there in the heart of it, near Swanston St and Little Bourke. I’ve always been curious to look inside, so will now make a point to do so…

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Oriental Inn on Carrington St in Box Hill does fantastic roast meats and also home style dishes (Cantonese style) for a reasonable price. They also do an awesome whole roasted suckling pig for around $280 per pig, but you need to book in advance and pay a deposit. Takeaway only for the pig.

Spicy Fish is in Lt Bourke, and it's okay, nothing spectacular in my opinion, but the hot stuff is quite good. Overall, it fails to move me. They are rude and sometimes downright dismissive.

Red Ant, a little ways up, between Russell and Exhibition is pretty good. It's actually off Lt Bourke, in the lane opposite Shark Fin House. The spicy beef hot pot is actually quite Szechuan in character, and in case I haven't ranted about this before, Melbourne needs a good Hunan/Szechuan injection.

Now, I've been a fan of Camy and the Shanghai Noodle House in the past, but the older I get, the less tolerant of MSG I've become. Now, I avoid those restaurants.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Oriental Inn do an awesome whole roasted suckling pig Takeaway only.

Takeaway only? Is it a big event kind of thing? How many guests would the pig take care of? That could make for a spectacularly memorable backyard barbeque, invite a bunch of mates over and then unveil the pig!
Red Ant, a little ways up, between Russell and Exhibition is pretty good.

Hmm don't know Red Ant, will have to search it out next chance. Reasonably priced?
the older I get, the less tolerant of MSG I've become.

Point taken, tho I usually go the dumpling route, in which I don't think MSG is used as much... or probably more accurately, I don't notice as much.

PCL, just going from memory from other threads, and could be completely off base, but aren't you a Northerner, as in Nth Carlton area? For some reason I thought you might be, and if so, do you know any places in that neck of the woods worth tracking down?

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Ahhh, I'm no Northener, I am formerly of Collingwood, Abbotsford and the City, and before that Richmond and East Malvern and most recently of Elwood, although I am currently an ex-pat in Asia as of 2 weeks ago.

In short, no, I don't know much about Chinese food that side of town that you're talking about. I honestly don't know of many Chinese people living out that way either, but then again, Shinboners might know more as he used to live up that way.

RE: Dumplings at Camy et al... I find that they are the ones that do me in the most, but then again they are the only things I eat if I'm ever there at all.

RE: Pig... definitely a big event only thing, and it will feed say 15 people or so quite happily with other stuff on offer. Really good fun and for no extra charge, they'll even chop it up and re-assemble it with head and feet and tail to resemble a spatchcocked piglet. Yum!

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Is Camy's Noodles and Dumplings a small chain?

Camy isn't a chain so far as I know, certainly doesn't look like one... just that great, old-school red-plastic backed chairs and torn, stained vinyl tablecovering.

I had lunch in Box Hill today, and the two restaurants on Station Street are both called, "David and Camy's Noodle and Dumplings". So it seems they've got at least three shops around town.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Ahhh, I'm no Northener, I am formerly of Collingwood, Abbotsford and the City, and before that Richmond and East Malvern and most recently of Elwood, although I am currently an ex-pat in Asia as of 2 weeks ago.

In short, no, I don't know much about Chinese food that side of town that you're talking about. I honestly don't know of many Chinese people living out that way either, but then again, Shinboners might know more as he used to live up that way.

Whilst I was a resident of North Melbourne, that was back in my toddler days.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 1 year later...

My thoughts to this thread:

(my opinions on previously mentioned places)

David and Camy's Noodle and Dumpling: They do do great noodles and dumplings as mentioned. However, both are heavily dusted with MSG. While eating, it tastes wonderful. However, all of their food has always caused me nausea and headaches 2 - 3 hours after eating (which is due to the MSG).

Supper Inn: Always good food, but they're never open for lunch, and not the "cheapest" chinese in town.

Pacific Seafood House: People say good things about this place, but I wasn't particularly impressed with any of their food.

Dumpling King: OK food at nice prices during lunchtime, but fairly expensive for dinner IMO.

Oriental Inn: I failed to be impressed by this place.

Spicy Fish and Red Ant: For sichuan food, there is absolutely no reason to come to these 2 places. They are more expensive than the alternative, and not as well done (alternative mentioned below).

(not mentioned so far)

Sichuan food: Right near Red Ant is a place called Dainty Sichuan Foods. This place is cheap, and very good food. Best Sichuan food in Melbourne IMO, but opening hours are a bit weird.

Old Kingdom: Smith Street, Fitzroy. This is the place to go for your Peking Duck fix. Cheap and very nice.

Shang Hai inn: City... in some alley way. Best noodle shop in city and dirt cheap... but all the cutlery are dirty :(

Tai Pan: Blackburn... not exactly "cheap" but my favourite place to go to for roast duck, suckling pig and yum cha (much cheaper than red emperor for yum cha).

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Thanks jkim, a few new suggestions there to explore. A couple people have noted the msg factor at camy and elsewhere, I guess I am lucky and have never noticed any reactions to the stuff. I know there are a lot of opinions on the subject.

Your mention of Shang Hai Inn reminded me to note two other places in CBD since my last post:

Noodle Kingdom, on Russell St. Here's a blog post that sums it up well: http://myfavouritefoods.com/2007/04/noodle-kingdom/

and

Wonton House, just next door. another blog post to save me from typing: http://myfavouritefoods.com/2007/06/wonton-house/

Has anyone tried Lau's Family Kitchen in St. K?

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I recently discovered Dainty Sichuan (which is located on Corrs Lane, Melb). The food is spicier than Spicy Fish and taste so much better than Spicy Fish.

Just word of warning, some of the food prob will be too spicy for those who cant eat spicy food. I have no trouble with it but then I have very high tolerance to chilli.

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Camys is my staple for Shanghai dumplings :) Shanghai Village, and a place on Swanston whose name I forget (near Trampoline, probably called "Swanston Dumplings" or similar) will comfortably kill the cravings if Camys is closed.

Also love love love Pacific Seafood BBQ House and Dumpling King. The latter's chilli oil dumplings have caused me serious intestinal agony, and yet I can never resist them the next time :raz:

The main place I go to for Sichuan is Post Deng in Chinatown, kind of across the road from Spicy Fish (which I haven't yet tried). Some of Post Deng's dishes are better than others, but I'm addicted to their sichuan fish with steamed rice, and they make one of the best wonton noodle soups I've ever had. Although a friend tells me not to go there on Wednesday, as that's the usual chef's day off, and he doesn't think the temp chef is as good.

What I really miss is Num Fong. Only went there once, but had the best stuff-fried-in-batter type dishes I've eaten. And now they've joined the lamented ranks of Restaurants Wot Are No Longer With Us :(

Edited by Amarantha (log)
There Will Be Bloody Marys
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... and a place on Swanston whose name I forget (near Trampoline, probably called "Swanston Dumplings" or similar) will comfortably kill the cravings if Camys is closed.

Amarantha, do you think this is the one you mean? haven't tried it, I'll be in City tonight so may have a look.

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... and a place on Swanston whose name I forget (near Trampoline, probably called "Swanston Dumplings" or similar) will comfortably kill the cravings if Camys is closed.

Amarantha, do you think this is the one you mean? haven't tried it, I'll be in City tonight so may have a look.

Yep, that looks like it :)

There Will Be Bloody Marys
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  • 1 month later...
The main place I go to for Sichuan is Post Deng in Chinatown, kind of across the road from Spicy Fish (which I haven't yet tried).  Some of Post Deng's dishes are better than others, but I'm addicted to their sichuan fish with steamed rice, and they make one of the best wonton noodle soups I've ever had.  Although a friend tells me not to go there on Wednesday, as that's the usual chef's day off, and he doesn't think the temp chef is as good.

I've been to Post Deng many times, and always thought it was inferior to several of the alternatives available. The only reason for returning was that they accept credit card, and Dainty doesn't, and I didn't have cash on me.

Really think it was pretty terrible, and will not be returning once the shanghai place on Swanston street reopens after renovations (for sichuan foods, I go dainty when I have cash, and shang hai when I don't).

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Thanks jkim, a few new suggestions there to explore. A couple people have noted the msg factor at camy and elsewhere, I guess I am lucky and have never noticed any reactions to the stuff. I know there are a lot of opinions on the subject.

Usually I'm pretty sensitive with MSG. Like jkim, it can give me headaches and nausea (not to mention the unquenchable thirst). But with Camy (Box Hill), I haven't noticed any MSG factor. They probably do use it, but maybe not to the extent of other restaurants.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 2 weeks later...

Good to see this thread resurrected.

The All People's Restaurant in Burwood, opposite the RSPCA is pretty good too.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went to this place called Du Ha or some crap today. Right next door to Westlake Yum Cha house on Ltl bourke. It was completely empty, with a total of 7 customers for lunch when we were eating.

Lunch menu was great. The dishes were between $1 - $9 like it was advertised on the door. But the waitress didn't give us lunch menus when we sat down. We had to ask for the lunch menu.

We sat down and had the combination noodles, duck bone soup, shredded pork with chilli, and pan fried pork dumplings. We expected that since it was a pretty pricy restaurant (according to the dinner menu), the food would either be crap or small portions. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the portion size was large (we were full on $20 worth of food) and the food was actually decent.

Granted, the pork chilli dish was done better at dainty, it was still far superior to other restaurants that claim to "specialize" in sichuan food (i.e. postdeng). The duck soup was better here than old kingdom, although slightly too salty. The combination noodles, at $8, had to be the best value for money dish in melbourne. We were impressed enough to decide that we'd return for the $40 per head dinner menu some day.

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