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First taste: Here’s what we thought of the steamboat dish at newly opened restaurant Cammies in Aberdeenshire

The steamboat at Cammies was a first for food and drink editor Julia Bryce. Image: Julia Bryce/DC Thomson
The steamboat at Cammies was a first for food and drink editor Julia Bryce. Image: Julia Bryce/DC Thomson

You hope you’re in for a treat when you have to pre-order your meal 24-hours in advance.

There’s a reason for this. To ensure the best quality local seafood can be sourced and so there’s no waste from produce not being sold.

The new team at Cammies in Cammachmore, Aberdeenshire, recently reopened the doors to the venue and they have been busy welcoming locals and fans of the former restaurant from far and wide since.

I’m here with my partner to try out the venue’s celebrated Hong Kong style steamboat.

While I’ve never tried a steamboat, I have experienced cooking on a Korean barbecue, so I figured it would be quite similar – swapping the meat for seafood, and the grill for a big steaming pot of broth.

Cammies opened earlier in January 2023. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

When we arrived at 6.30pm on Saturday night there were quite a few tables in. The first thing I saw was a generous portion of fish and chips flying past me. It looked excellent.

But after a warm welcome from owners Nalin Abeyratne, his wife Annette and their communications manager Punya, I was ready to get stuck in.

They admitted I was the first person to try the steamboat in the restaurant, but reassured me it is something they enjoy quite regularly at home.

The dining room in the restaurant. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Playing the guinea pig comes with its own reservations, however, we were happy to take on the challenge and see what diners can expect if they order the dish.

Usually there’s a minimum of four people for ordering the steamboat, but they did express that two is possible to do, and something they will consider it if demand is high.

Cammies steamboat dish

After we received my gin and tonic and my partner’s Coca Cola Zero, we patiently awaited the arrival of our pot.

The stand was plugged in and ready for its arrival. When Annette brought the pot of boiling liquid out of the kitchen I could see the concentration on her face watching every step she took. Carefully placing it down, she quickly retreated and returned multiple times with a variety of plates.

The pot when it first arrived. Image: Julia Bryce/DC Thomson

On one side of the pot was a spicy broth and on the other was a non-spicy one. Our table was lined with tiger prawns, squid, fish dumplings, vegetable dumplings, mushrooms, seaweed, smoked tofu, greens and noodles – all of which were stated on the menu.

Newbies, I asked as many questions as possible. “What’s in this? What is that? How long does it take to warm up? Do we need to have it boiling the whole time?”. I felt a little overwhelmed at my lack of knowledge but Annette and Nalin tried to reassure me that you can’t really go wrong.

Don’t be afraid to get stuck into the spread. Image: Julia Bryce/DC Thomson

Although when it comes to cooking seafood I’d have to disagree.

We got on with it, staring at one another trying to decide what was best to do. We got off to a bumpy start, firing all sorts of ingredients into the hot broth. We were overcooking and undercooking, trying to do too many things at once. The idea with a steamboat is to take your time and really appreciate the food – we learned this fast.

After getting to grips with it we were very much reaping the rewards. The squid and fish balls were delicious and the four tiger prawns were hands down a favourite of mine. They were so juicy and full of flavour.

The uncooked ingredients ready to be dunked into the steamboat. Image: Julia Bryce/DC Thomson

There were three sauces on the side – a fish sauce with ginger, one heavy with turmeric and earthier spices, and the other a sweeter chilli oil that had an almost jam taste to it. We dipped some of the items into them, finding our favourite combinations as we went.

On the veggie front the mushrooms and broccoli worked so well with the steamboat, and I also tried lotus yam for the first time.

The seaweed is where things took a bit of a turn. I like seaweed, but this was a thick ribbon of the salty stuff and it wasn’t to either of our likings when we tried it in both broths.

Some of the greens including a lotus yam. Image: Julia Bryce/DC Thomson

My favourite broth had to be the non-spicy one, although I would argue that I didn’t think the spicy one had any real kick at all, although I could see the dried chilli seeds that had been used to make it. There was big slices of ginger in it which subtly added to the aroma.

Stick the tofu in the non-spicy one for a match made in heaven. I loved how the sweet tofu really soaked up the savoury stock – it was delicious. The four dumplings were equally as good.

After polishing everything off we were left with the noodles which Nalin told us to eat last. We popped both nests in and watched as they stretched out and soaked in the broth. I added plenty of the three sauces to the noodles, mixing it up as I went.

After, Nalin explained an egg should have been brought over to boil with the noodles, but we weren’t fussed at all.

The steamboat in all of its glory. Image: Julia Bryce/DC Thomson

The dish was surprisingly filling, and I guess with plenty of liquid forming the base, that filled our stomachs too.

It was lovely to see nautical touches throughout the venue, with shipping boats on the walls, pictures, photographs and ship wheels around the restaurant.

There’s also a small lighthouse out the front to guide diners to the restaurant – a very fitting touch I thought with Nalin’s maritime background.

The verdict

Playing guinea pigs I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the experience was.

Now that I have tried it, I’d definitely bring my friends to sample it – although that fish and chips, and the other dishes that included meat, fish and more, did look amazing.

I’m also eyeing up the Sunday lunch with a paella, and Nalin confirmed they have been fully booked with more than 70 diners enjoying it every weekend so far.

For those who don’t eat seafood there’s a veggie alternative of the steamboat for £12 per person and you can also treat yourself to chocolate fondue at the end for an additional £6 per person.

Don’t forget to order your steamboat 24 hours in advance.


Address: Cammies, Cammachmore, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire AB39 3NR

T: 01569 668120


Price: £25 per person