Chin Chin, Melbourne

by dylan on February 15, 2014

Chin Chin

Chin Chin

We had a few ideas of where to eat on our last day in Melbourne but after our night at Maha (which turned out to be quite a late one) we awoke closer to check out time than intended. We had to get ready, pack up, check out and reassess our plan.

We wandered down into the thick of it and ended up at Degraves St with the hope of grabbing a quick bite and a coffee from RMB Cafe Bar. Sadly as we arrived we noticed it was closed for renovations. A quick bit of research on a few of the places around had us even more depressed as they all seemed to be lacking at best.

Thankfully the time was inching closer to 11am and with this in mind we decided to skip breakfast and head straight to lunch in what would be our final meal for this trip. Where better to get in early than Chin Chin. Notorious for long queues we arrived to quite the opposite. With just a couple of tables occupied we were ready to see what all the fuss was about.

Miang – betel leaf of braised lamb neck with smoked eggplant and mint relish ($12.00).

Perusing the menu I could see a definite trend with the dishes; although this was an Asian fusion restaurant I saw quite a heavy leaning towards Thai cuisine which suited me to a tee. The menu is pretty large but split concisely between sections, so we began with the ‘Little Something’ section and chose the miang.

When it comes to miang these guys were quite big and with the peanuts sprawled all over the place it made them look even bigger. After wrapping it up and getting it to my mouth I could instantly sense the big fresh mint relish, and once I bit into it the mint overwhelmed until the succulent lamb shone through and took over. Heavily charred dried chillies punctured through here and there with a subtle smoky spice but the eggplant was all but lost in this lovely morsel.

Miang - betel leaf of braised lamb neck with smoked eggplant and mint relish

Miang - betel leaf of braised lamb neck with smoked eggplant and mint relish

Crying Tiger – chargrilled sher wagyu with a chilli tamarind dressing, ground roast rice, fried glass noodles and holy basil ($29.00).

When making our choices and chatting with our waitress it seemed we were on the same page. Every dish we chose was one she would recommend based on our preferences. Perfect.

A Thai beef salad is a magical thing, to me it is a dish that sums up Thai food perfectly with the balance between spicy, sweet, sour and salty. I cook a rather epic version myself so it was really time to see how mine stacked up.

Green scuds and red chillies brought a nice healthy heat and the fish sauce was measured well to linger on the palate just long enough. I loved the inclusion of fried glass noodles as they soaked up all the tangy tamarind dressing making it stand out from the crowd. There was such an awesome char on the beef yet it was still magically rare in the centre. Mint and holy basil had a slight sweetness and was cooling without dulling the awesome fire of the scuds. Definitely one of my favourite versions.

Crying Tiger - chargrilled sher wagyu with a chilli tamarind dressing, ground roast rice, fried glass noodles and holy basil

Crying Tiger - chargrilled sher wagyu with a chilli tamarind dressing, ground roast rice, fried glass noodles and holy basil

Dry red curry of soft shell crab with snake beans, Thai basil and kaffir lime leaf ($31.00).

A dish that instantly caught my eye was the dry red curry. I have a fondness for dry curries as they really intensify the paste and allow for so many more great combinations that would just never quite work when drowned in coconut milk. Soft shell crab is an ingredient that sums this up perfectly. Bearing this in mind and our love of soft shell crab it was the obvious choice for our curry.

Instantly apparent were the full and powerful flavours of roasted spices, the backbone to the dish. Behind this lovely mix of spices was crisp soft shell crab where you could take a bite and it was dry, salty and left you with a mouth full of clove or roasted onion, but then the very next mouthful was meaty and succulent, softening the paste and really bringing it to life and balancing it well. Snake beans, baby corn and kaffir lime leaves worked well to break up the curry. Loved it.

Dry red curry of soft shell crab with snake beans, Thai basil and kaffir lime leaf

Dry red curry of soft shell crab with snake beans, Thai basil and kaffir lime leaf

Crispy skinned roast duck with spring onion and orange nahm jim jaew ($34.00).

As is the case when you must order everything by the time the duck arrived we were on the edge of being full. We had just enough room left to make the most our final dish and that we did. A classic French combo with a nice fusion spin sadly we found the duck was a tad over cooked. It took the juicy segments of orange to pull everything back in line but when everything came together it did so very well. The skin was where the flavour hid, crisp skin full of star anise, cinnamon, clove and of course its saviour the orange really hit the spot.

Crispy skinned roast duck with spring onion and orange nahm jim jaew

Crispy skinned roast duck with spring onion and orange nahm jim jaew

Chin Chin’s roti bread ($4.00).

When it comes to roti I think it needs to be light and fluffy, Chin Chin’s roti was just a bit too thick and had a doughy feel as a result. The flavour was as it should be but when it comes to roti it just wasn’t as well executed as one of our faves mamak.

Chin Chin's roti bread

Chin Chin's roti bread

During our meal I’d had a few Singha beers and Lex had thoroughly enjoyed the house white that was a great match to Asian food – not sweet and not dry, with a nice acidity. When we’d finished our drinks and surveyed the restaurant it was alive, not a spare table in sight, the lunch service in full swing.

I’ve seen that some say the prices are high but for the quality of the dishes and their size I would have to disagree. It is hard to find a place that has the same quality of food, service, atmosphere and general execution of Chin Chin playing in the same space. We’ve since recommended it to friends and they were not disappointed. Bring on Chin Chin Sydney!

Dining room

Dining room

Chin Chin
125 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 8663 2000
Chin Chin Website

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Napoli Restaurant Alert August 19, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Not sure if they are still on the menu but the son-in-law eggs are great too!
Napoli Restaurant Alert recently posted..The hunt for Sydney’s best cannoli – part IIMy Profile

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Dylan August 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Didn’t spot them but will look out for them next time!

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