Thursday, 5 December 2013

Chin Chin To That

There are some things in life I'm happy to wait for. The release of a new Chanel nail polish, a parcel filled with wonderfulness from ASOS and, of course, a table at one of Melbourne's best restaurants. Sure, people may call it a wank and roll their eyes when you tell them you waited for 72 minutes just to sample some of Melbourne's best dumplings and ask sarcastically if the wait was really worth it. And was it? You bet your darn Xiao Long Bao it was! So, When the opportunity arose to eat at one of Melbourne's most popular restaurants, Chin Chin, I wasn't at all fazed by the prospect of a 90 minute wait. If feasting on some of Melbourne's finest food means wearing queue-appropriate heels for the evening, then that my friends, is a sacrifice I am willing to make.  

When it took up its position on Flinders Lane a few year back, Chin Chin quickly became the most talked about restaurant in the biz and, rather than the hype dying down, its popularity has only been on the rise. It's not really any wonder why either. Modelled on the bustling hawker-style dining halls of Bangkok, Chin Chin is a fun, modern and fresh take on traditional and delicious East-Asian street food. The menu offers a variety of small dishes such as dumplings, son in law eggs and DIY spring rolls (about the only kind of handiwork I can manage...particularly after two or three cocktails) which allow you to be adventurous with your choices. There are also larger dishes which comprise of the 'Scud City' jungle curry (if you enjoy the sensation of your cheeks being slowly and painfully melted away by chilli then this is your go to dish) and salmon wrapped in banana leaf.
I'm one of those people who doesn't regularly eat at the same restaurant twice. When I live in a city that's got more restaurants than Miley Cyrus has scandals, why would I waste my time eating somewhere twice? Chin Chin however, is one of my only exceptions. Here, it is like every dish could be a signature dish because the flavours are so extraordinary. There is one dish that I continuously crave  and that is the Kingfish sashimi. With it's perfect balance of lime juice for zing, chilli for heat, coconut for sweetness and Thai basil for freshness, I find this dish totally irresistible. In fact, it's kind of like getting a big plate of James Franco served up to you...though probably much cheaper. I also sampled the truly remarkable betel leaf of braised lamb neck with smoked eggplant and mint relish, topped with cashews and Thai basil. Who knew that so much flavour could be packed into three small mouthfuls. From the larger dish section, we enjoyed the Pad Kaphrao, stir fried minced chicken with silken tofu, baby corn, basil, oyster sauce and some of that spicy scud chilli, as well as the aromatic yellow curry of roast pumpkin, chargrilled tofu and green beans which was a personal favourite. As with every other dish at Chin Chin, the flavours were intense, yet not over-powering and perfectly balanced. There is also an all Australian wine list with a different region featured each week and a crazy cocktail list that will have you umming and ahhing for a good fifteen minutes. I, with my awesome cocktail-selecting ability, chose an amazing, an somewhat theatrical (frozen ball of rose petals, anyone?) lychee cocktail that complimented my meal perfectly.
So next time you're wondering if the wait is really worth it or, even worse, you start to feel yourself becoming one of those sarcastic eye-rollers (curse them!), then simply dine at Chin Chin. Sure you may have to wait for 90 minutes, but while you do you can enjoy a fantastic cocktail and be safe in the knowledge that you're about to taste some of the best food that Melbourne has to offer. Remember, good things come to those who wait.

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