PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Okra is the kind of restaurant that Melbourne does well, providing good value eating and drinking with pleasant service. The proximity of Camberwell Junction and its shops and offices, plus the adjacent cinemas are reason enough for all the restaurants in this area, but it would be a mistake to visit Okra for only a quick meal before or after a show. It doesn't push any boundaries but the food is always sound and satisfying, and a pleasant experience is ensured. From outside the restaurant looks small but it stretches back a way, and there's upstairs dining as well. The dining room is filled with bold colours of plum, green and dark blue.
The menu, suitably presented with an image of okra on the cover, covers much of South East Asia taking inspiration from Cantonese, Malay, Singaporean and Thai cuisine. Like most Asian fare, the menu is designed with sharing in mind. The steamed dumplings are foldovers filled with chicken, topped with lively herbs and chilli. I found the fried calamari disappointing – too heavy a batter – but recommend the ayam bakar padang – grilled chicken marinated in turmeric and other spices. It's tender, succulent and flavoursome. The vegetable dishes are notably good, particularly the mixed greens with two mushrooms. The beverage list is fairly priced, too, but you may bring your own for a small corkage fee.