The post it sticker in my friend’s Age Good Food Guide is straight forward:
Everyone in Melbourne knows about this place. Must try. Be prepared to wait. Thank goodness they have a great bar too.
We weren’t here because of the note, we were here because I wanted to buy a cookbook…yes, really.
Anyways, the space is like the menu- wide, loud and lively. Outside a laser light show plays on the wall across the lane, giving the queues waiting to get in something to whet their appetite on. It’s an art installation- of the moving image kind- and it plays across the windows like an outdoor movie.
Speaking of laneways, down this one is Go Go Bar- a destination in itself. On the menu there is a bar snack version of what you can get upstairs- along with a seriously cool vibe.
We were early, and it was loud, so we went next door to The Meatball Wine Co for a wine instead, before joining the queue at around 5.30pm. Yes, you heard it right- we joined the queue at 5.30pm. In fact, according to the cookbook, Chin Chin can do more dishes in the two hours between 5 and 7pm than other restaurants do in a whole night.
Anyways, we had a choice between a seat at the bar or a 20-30 min wait for a table. So we chose the bar. Not only were we seated faster, but we got to see the theatre in the kitchen.
Ok, the food. It’s street inspired, it’s Thai, it’s spicy, it’s vibrant, it’s one shock to your palate after the next- like a foodie roller coaster.
The menu is huge- and not one that I’d be keen to let my decision phobic husband at- did that come out loud? Don’t get me wrong, this was a serious infoodelity moment (one of those times where you eat somewhere without your partner that you just know that they’d love), but it would take him all night to decide what to eat.
We didn’t even try. So what did we order? We just said “Feed Me”…and they did.
Feed Me ($66 per person) gives you way more than a taste of 6 courses plus a side plus dessert.
What did we get?
We started with a cocktail. Mine was chilli infused vodka with something hazelnut and something lime (I think). It was a spicy, shocking mouthful that woke everything else up.
My friends? No idea, but they looked (and tasted) great.
First up was kingfish sashimi with lime, chilli, coconut and thai bass. This was one of my favourites for the night…except for my other favourites, that is.
Next we had spicy corn and coriander fritters with iceberg lettuce and chilli jam. These were great, and designed to be picked up and eaten in the lettuce leaf. I’ll definitely be trying some of these at home.
This was very quickly followed by wok fried salt and pepper squid with nuoc cham and vietnamese mint.
Crispy barramundi and green apple salad with caramelised pork (more yummy than I can say), peanuts, chilli and lemongrass came out next.
As did dry red curry of soft shell crab with snake beans, Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves. Spicy, crunchy, crabby goodness.
My friends favourite for the evening was the twice cooked beef short ribs with prik nahm pla. It melted in the mouth, but I was getting full… besides,
son in law eggs were coming out- with all their oozy yolky yumminess.
I needed a break so checked out the bathrooms- for a Thai language lesson…yes, they were playing it through the bathrooms.
Lucky I did (although I didn’t stay in there long enough to learn anything), because when I came out, so did the desserts.
First up was a palm sugar ice cream sundae with salted honeycomb and lime syrup…way too sweet for me, but oh so pretty.
Last of all was coconut tapioca pudding with sweet corn ice cream…yes, sweet corn. It was luscious, coconutty (yes, there is such a word), and the puffed black rice on top tasted like nutty cocopops.
Chin Chin…come early, or be prepared to wait…it is so so so worth it. Oh, and I bought the cookbook- so keep an eye out for my attempts…