A couple of weeks into its life and Chris Lucas’ new venture is hot, hot, hot.
Chin Chin is situated in Flinders Lane in the space formerly occupied by the abjectly terrible ICON bar. It is actually incredible that ICON was hiding such an amazing space – I really love the high, pressed metal ceiling and huge windows. Chin Chin was fitted out by interior darlings Projects of Imagination and they have nicely divided the room into a few sections, with a main bar running lengthwise down the room and a dining section. A downstairs bar is also in the works.
The menu is South East Asian, with a focus on Thai cuisine and is made for sharing. Eats are divided into ‘little somethings’, soups, ‘green stuff’, curries, barbecue, ‘a bit more’ and ‘on the side’. The little somethings are perfect snacks for a drink or two. A couple of days after opening, Claireand I visited and enjoyed the pork roll-ups ($16) and the wok fried salt & pepper squid with nuoc cham ($14).
I went back a week or so later for a full meal and was glad I did. While I had enjoyed the couple of bar snacks I’d previously had, the things we ordered at dinner really blew me away.
Our group of 4 started with the crunchy school prawns with nahm prik pla gapi ($9) and the spicy eggnet rolls with spanner crab and chilli jam ($12):
It’s fair to say that the school prawns are likely to become a star dish for Chin Chin – that nahm prik was seriously delicious.
On to the larger dishes – we started with the crispy skinned mandarin duck ($33) which had been recommended by a number of people on Twitter – and rightly so:
The duck was crispy and sticky from the mandarin glaze. Being a salt fiend, I also loved the salt mix on the side (potentially mixed with tea?).
Next in the larger dishes was the barramundi wrapped in a banana leaf with coconut red curry, lime and Thai basil ($34) and on the side, ‘morning glory’ wok tossed cress with yellow bean and chilli ($14):
The Barra was my least favourite of the dishes – but this was coming from a high benchmark. For me, it didn’t have the same wow factor as the other dishes, but it was tasty nonetheless. The morning glory was a nice foil to all the proteins.
Lastly, we shared a Massaman curry of braised beef brisket ($18) and son in law eggs with chilli jam ($8):
At this stage we were almost beyond full, but gallantly had a go at the curry and it really was a winner. Unctuous, tender brisket in a creamy coconut sauce with crunchy shallots. Really good. I also liked the son-in-law eggs, a favourite dish I always order at Ginger Boy, this version was great too.
We were going to skip dessert, but I saw the words ‘salted honeycomb’ and I could not resist. We also ordered the platter of desserts to share, but this was sold out. Apparently it comes with caramels and macarons so I’ll definitely be ordering it next time. Instead, we shared the layered jellies of coconut milk, passion-fruit and slow poached pineapple ($11) – not pictured. Here is the salted honeycomb beauty – a palm sugar icecream sundae with lime jelly ($12)… I’m in love:
This was SO good. In my books, you really can’t go wrong with the salty/sweet combination, and the addition of the lime helped cut through all that sweet richness. I’ll be back to eat this again. The other dessert seemed to be the poor relation in comparison to the honeycomb, but was actually a great dessert too. The coconut milk jelly had the consistency of a panacotta and was rich and lush. The pineapple had taken on a caramelly quality and there was a smokiness from the toasted coconut. We managed to polish this off quickly too.
All in all, it was an excellent meal. Great food, service and atmosphere. It was also good value. I’ll definitely be back soon…
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Ph: (03) 8663 2000
No bookings, unless for groups over 12.
Open 7 days and now for lunch. Open late.