I’ve been wanting to go to Chin Chin for the longest time, even though I have heard mixed reviews from people. For those of you who live in Melbourne and dine out, you’re probably aware of this super popular Asian restaurant on Flinders Lane, close to other big name eateries such as Cumulus Inc, Yu-U and not too far from Mamasita.
Even though Chin Chin doesn’t take bookings (like many popular restaurants these days), they were still very full and loud at 4pm on a Friday afternoon. Luckily we didn’t have to wait and were promptly brought to a free table and had our orders taken. The walls of the restaurant were covered in vintage looking Asian posters which went well with the rustic furniture and decor.
Not too sure that the menu really went with the Japanese characters on the back of the menu as most of the food are Thai inspired but it was a fun read while we waited for our food and drinks to arrive.
I am completely addicted to coffees at the moment, it’s so terrible. So it doesn’t matter what type of cuisine the restaurant serves, if coffee is on the menu I would usually order one and that’s what I did here. My latte wasn’t all that great unfortunately, definitely not as fragrant as cafes I’ve been to around Melbourne and it was slightly burnt. I suppose I didn’t expect much from the coffee when I ordered it.
What was a total surprise though was that a girl from the next table asked a waitress whether they could make affogatos but the waitress didn’t know what it was. For such a popular restaurant, surely someone would have asked for one before? They were told after asking the barista that affogatos can’t be made as Chin Chin doesn’t stock vanilla ice cream.
Each table was equipped with a bottle of sriracha chilli sauce, although I didn’t think it was necessary. Most of the dishes we ordered were quite chilli already, but if you really like your heat then that colourful bottle is your friend.
We were told the dishes are designed to be shared and portions are not all that big. The waitress recommended us to order 3-4 dishes between the 2 of us and so that’s what we did. The first dish was the Crying Tiger – chargrilled Moodarra wagyu with a chilli tamarind dressing, ground roast rice, fried glass noodles & holy basil for $29. It was from the barbecue section. Yuye and I bought thought it was a bit too chilli and a bit on the sour side. Other than that it was a very tasty dish full of good Thai flavours and the beef was tender and cooked well.
The second dish was the crispy skinned duck, pickled cucumber & ginger salad with sesame salt and fresh lemon for $33. It was a very surprisingly large dish with a whole uncut quarter of duck.
What I didn’t like about the dish was the fact that it was a bit overcooked, which made the meat not as juicy. What I also didn’t like was the big pile of cucumber which were piled on top of the ‘crispy’ skin. As you can imagine where the cucumber touched the skin, it became not as crispy. As the duck was fairly large, I also found it a bit under-seasoned, even with the sesame salt (I found the sesame salt wasn’t all that salty). However, it was quite a fun dish to eat as Yuye and I tore through the huge piece of duck meat.
We ordered a side dish of ‘son in law’ eggs with chilli jam for $8. This dish is meant to be flash fried after boiling. Although they can be served whole or cut open, I’d always prefer to cut my own egg and see the yolk ooze out. Chin Chin cut their eggs beforehand and the yolk was gooey but not runny so I was slightly disappointed with that, however it was very well seasoned and tasted delicious.
If we had stopped ordering at this stage, our bellies would have been satisfied, but as it turned out, we had over ordered. What the waitress meant was probably to order 3-4 dishes but some of them should be entrees instead of ordering 3 whole mains. Anyway, the last dish that arrived on the table was the green curry of grilled chicken with salted duck eggs, pea eggplant, kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil for $25. This dish also came with a bowl of rice to soak up the sauce.
It was a beautiful curry that was well seasoned and about the right chilliness, although Yuye wasn’t too happy that he accidentally chewed on a huge piece of salted duck egg. If you’ve never tried salted duck eggs before, it’s quite salty, especially the egg white. It would have been better if these egg bits were cut up into smaller pieces. I liked the eggplants in the dish though as they were al dente and still had a bit of chewiness. So overall a good dish.
We did manage to finish all the dishes in the end with a bit of difficulty.
Chin Chin serves up modern Thai and Asian cuisine that is vibrant and full of flavour (with a few small downsides). The beautifully presented dishes and good ambiance might be what customers keep coming back for, although in my opinion, the food is a tad expensive. It is a different way of enjoying Thai cuisine compared to the usual small takeaway places. I do recommend steering away from their coffees as there are plenty of better coffee places nearby.
Phone: (03) 8663 2000
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000