I’ve always been one of those people who love to try new restaurants and whenever I read about a new restaurant, or walk past one that I haven’t been to before, I always get excited at the prospect of trying something new and adding to the “go-to” list. However, when there is a lot of hype around a restaurant, I’m always a bit skeptical having been subjected to more misses than hits! Compounding the skepticism is whether the restaurant serves Asian food but is not your atypical Asian restaurant. I’m reluctant to pay a lot for similar dishes in Richmond, Glen Waverley or Footscray. However, after visiting Chin Chin, I can say that this place is worth the hype. Chin Chin serves Asian food with a slight twist but truer to the origin of the dish and the variety, size and price makes it worth the wait and worth the visit!
The vibe at Chin Chin is electric. It always appears to be buzzing and the great thing about it is that it’s open from 11am until late. So if you want to go there, you can have brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner or just a snack! However your chances of getting a table without waiting requires strategy and an eagerness that knows no bounds! If you’re anything like me, I’m happy to wait for a table at Chin Chin whilst enjoying drinks at GoGo bar which is on the lower level of the restaurant. You can start your gourmet adventures with a range of Chin Chin small dishes to whet your appetite when you make it upstairs to your table!
On the Go Go bar menu is one of my favorite Chin Chin small dishes, the ‘Murtabak’. It is a pleasant snack size sandwich where the bread has been swapped for Roti, and the filling is a spicy Indian mix of curried mince. The dipping sauce has pieces of cucumber which works extremely well to cool the heat of the curried mince. I think it goes extremely well with my drink of choice, a refreshing gin and tonic.
If you’re lucky enough to not wait and head straight to a table then may I suggest you start with some small dishes on the menu, notably in the “small dishes” section! I would recommend the ‘Chin Chin roll ups’. A fun “make your own” dish, where you take pieces of shredded pork and Asian salad and roll it up in a soft wrap. Sweet, thick hoisin type sauce (like the one used in Peking duck wraps) is the perfect accompaniment either in the wrap or as a dipping sauce.
The other stand out small dish is the ‘Kingfish sashimi’. Thinly sliced Kingfish is lightly dressed with a light coconut cream and lime/chilli dressing. The subtle flavour of the Kingfish is complemented with the coconut cream and balances the heat of the lime/chilli dressing. It is a light and refreshing dish that is definitely worth trying.
The remainder of the menu is split between Rice/Noodle/Soup dishes, Asian influenced salads, BBQ and “A bit more” which are larger main style dishes. Generally, I go by the mantra of “you don’t make friends with salad” however I have had a version of the shredded chicken, spanner crab salad with lime/chilli dressing and it was light and fresh. So perhaps don’t discount the salad section!
Of the other dishes on the menu, I would definitely recommend the ‘Twice Cooked Hopkins River Beef Short Rib’ as a must have. The meat is tender and just comes off the bone. Eat it by itself or with rice. The beef has been marinated with a semi-sweet marinade and if it weren’t so rich, I would try to eat the whole dish myself!
The other must have is the ‘Caramelised sticky pork’. Wow. Delectable and tender pieces of pork marinated and coated with a sticky sweet sauce. Once again, you can have it by itself or with rice. A “go to” for everyone who goes, unless you have an aversion to pork! The pork is accompanied by a chilli vinegar and a sour herb salad.
As an accompaniment I’d order rice (bowls are pretty big so if there are two of you, I’d order one to begin with), and my favourite side dish are the ‘Son-in-Law’ eggs. I can only describe them as eggs that have been boiled so that the yolk is soft but not runny, flash fried and served with a sweet/sour jam.
However, before you decide on additional dishes if you’ve had all of the above, consider whether you have enough room for dessert…because there are two that you…must…have! Well there could be more, but I’ve never been able to make it past these two…
The first is the ‘palm sugar ice-cream sundae’ with salted honeycomb and lime syrup. This dessert is divine. The palm sugar ice cream itself is wonderfully sweet without being overly sweet. It complements the salted honeycomb, and at the same time the honeycomb texture balances with the softness ice cream. Finally as you eat your way through the sundae, you get the delight of the lime syrup that is sickly sweet by itself but works incredibly well with the creaminess of the ice cream.
The ‘Banana Roti’ is also a great dessert and probably a bit heavier than the ice cream sundae. Caramelised banana sandwich between two pieces of roti and then a drizzle of condensed milk on the top, served hot. Absolutely glorious!
I’ve now been to Chin Chin, more than half a dozen times now and every time I go, I have fabulous time. If I had the time, patience (even my greediness has a time limit) and money I would spend my time trying every dish. I suspect I’ll get to the point one day where I’ll suffer from f.o.m.o (fear of missing out) because there are too many on my “must have” list…..
Images by Katherine Ng