Here’s the first of ten stories about my recent trip to Melbourne. Long time readers will know that this has become a yearly event which of course coincides with the Formula One Grand Prix. In fact, I think this was my fifth time at the Australian GP!
As a regular visitor, there are some restaurants which have become part of my Melbourne eating ritual… But what I love most is still being able to discover brilliant new places!
Claypots Seafood Bar was one of my new finds on this particular visit.
They don’t take table reservations, but let me assure you that the gamble for a table here is so worth it.
Zen and I rushed here after watching the qualifying race and waited by the counter for the words which would make or break our evening. “Yes, there’s a table for two just by the door”. Hooray.

Claypots Seafood Bar, St Kilda, Melbourne - counter of fresh fish

The counter was glowing with fresh seafood, ranging from red emperors to flounders to the shellfish of your dream. The decor is Asian crossed with Bohemian. The noise level is high and the long railway bench-style seat isn’t the most comfortable, but the sight of bubbly claypots and enormous seafood platters all around transports me into a foodies’ paradise.
Clearly looking like newbies, a waitress guides us through the blackboard menus. Claypots are all $20. There’s Malay which has sticky rice, laksa, stingray, fish fillets and mussels, Moroccan which has couscous, eggplant, chickpeas, fish fillets and mussels, Cajun which is a gumbo with okra, tomatoes, sticky rice, fish fillets and mussels and Kerela which is made up of tamarind, coriander, garam masala, mussels, sticky rice, fish fillets and dry shrimps. Then there’s the main menu which we have to strain our necks to see (as we’re seated directly beneath it). She says they focus on cooking the fishes whole and points out a few exceptions.

Claypots Seafood Bar, St Kilda, Melbourne - menu

We start with a garlic king prawn each which don’t come cheap at $9 each. They’re served sizzling hot in a small wok with pieces of bread, perfect for absorbing the fragrant oil. The prawns are extremely plump and so flavoursome.

Claypots Seafood Bar, St Kilda, Melbourne - garlic prawns

Next we have the cajun claypot ($20) which is bubbling away and placed on yet another huge stack of paper napkins. It is perfectly spiced, with tender pieces of fish, mussels, okra, tomatoes and other vegetables. I dig into the bottom for the crispy layer of browned rice – yum!

Claypots Seafood Bar, St Kilda, Melbourne - cajun claypot

Our crispy skin silver dory ($40) is even more magnificent. Served whole, the skin is indeed crispy and deliciously flavoured with an Asian garlic salt mix; the white flesh is succulent and naturally sweet. The accompanying baked kipfler potatoes and steamed bok choy makes it a complete feast which we gleefully polish off.

Claypots Seafood Bar, St Kilda, Melbourne - whole fish

The table of four beside us look thrilled at the sheer enormity of their red emperor, served with lemongrass sambal ($100). While waiting for the bill, I plot to return with a larger party to ensure we can order this next time.

Claypots Seafood Bar, St Kilda, Melbourne - signage

Ladies and gents, I’d like to declare that Claypots has hit the mark and will be a new addition to my Melbourne eating ritual! So stay tuned for more visits to this new fave later in the year!
(P.S. There are nine more Melbourne stories coming soon this month)

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Claypots Seafood & Wine on Urbanspoon
Claypots Seafood Bar
213 Barkly Street, St Kilda, Melbourne, VIC
Phone: (03) 9534 1282

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.