|The beautifully designed mosaic tiled bar at Chin Chin|
The secret it turns out, is to head to Chin Chin this week. Everyone in Australia is still at the beach or on summer holidays so my friend Claire and I just walked right in for a table at Chin Chin without a care in the world. Once in, we liked what we saw. The warehouse style space on Flinders Lane is a perfect inner city playground.
|Spicy and slow cooked BBQ goat|
A huge mosaic tiled bar lines one side of the room while chefs do their thing in a partly open kitchen. Huge pink neon bunny ears hang on one wall and bright blue metal stools add pops of colour. The whole restaurant has been designed to within an inch of its life and I could not help but love it.
Claire and I tucked into cocktails including a brilliant lychee concoction which included a huge ball of iced rose petals that slowly melted into the alcohol while we checked out the menu which also doubled as a placemat. The food is best described as “Asian fusion” even though in some circles that is a dirty phrase. It jumps around the continent from dumplings to Thai style curries to a porky take on peking duck rolls.
|Kingfish sashimi – check out the beautiful crockery at Chin Chin as well|
Whether you waltz in to Chin Chin this week or queue for hours next week, here’s what I’d order. The Kingfish sashimi ($16) with thick slices of fish almost translucent and dripping with the acidity of lime juice and the punch of a chilli dressing. Crunchy deep fried corn and coriander fritters ($12) wrapped in an iceberg lettuce leaf and lathered with chilli jam, essentially the culinary equivalent of crack cocaine.
|Corn and coriander fritters|
You also can’t miss the wild Barramundi salad ($26) with its textural contrast between the crispy deep fried fish, sticky sweet cubes of caramalised pork and the slithers of green apple.
|Wild Barramundi salad|
Here’s what I’d skip. The pork roll ups ($18) are fun because you construct them yourself but they were timid in comparison to the other dishes we tried. Similarly while the BBQ goat ($28) was slow cooked and spicy, the dish was pleasant rather than possessing.
|Pork roll ups|
The wine list at Chin Chin sits comfortably beside the spotlight hogging food. It is a proudly parochial all Australian affair and we loved the crisp and dry Pachamama riesling ($39).
|Chin Chin’s famous neon bunny ears|
Yes, I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and am now already planning my next pilgrimage to that culinary temple called Chin Chin.
Update – July 2012
I went for dinner at Chin Chin on a Saturday night with friends which meant a two hour wait for a table. We didn’t mind as we waited with cocktails at Go Go bar, but bear that time frame in mind if you don’t like queuing. The “Feed Me” menu was brilliant although Chin Chin’s duck liver and chilli dish almost burned our throats with some seriously spicy flavours.
Details: Chin Chin, 125 Flinders Lane Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia (Ph: +61 (3) 8663 2000) Open 7 days, lunch until late.
Damage: Pricey. Our bill came to $173 for two with drinks.