Chin Chin | Melbourne

Chin Chin is one of the hottest Melbourne restaurants, both figuratively and literally. The hype for this place just does not die down – I’ve followed it for a years, and when I finally had the chance to visit, the queues were as Great-Wallian as ever.

Surely, a simple restaurant styled around contemporary Malay cuisine cannot generate such buzz? Granted, Malay food is delicious, but also ubiquitous. What makes Chin Chin stand out? Does it deserve to?

I practically killed my tastebuds to find out. The results were…fiery.

Date Last Visited: 29/11/13
Address: 125 Flinders Ln Melbourne, VIC 3000
Recommended Dish(es): Massaman curry of coconut braised beef w/kipfler potatoes, peanuts & crispy shallots

In a bit of an unfortunate turn of trends, Chin Chin embraces the whole “no bookings” policy (though groups of 10-12 can book). Yes, prepare to mentally steel yourself for the queue. I suggest bringing a thick novel if you’re coming during peak times.

Chin Chin

Big place, with two levels. Not big enough for its own popularity.

Luckily, on our visit, we managed to take over the table of a friend whose group was about to leave. It’s a bit dodgy and unethical, but ain’t nobody got time for waits. As such, seating was prompt – this is not the norm.

I would hazard a guess that the place is almost always packed. Such is the popularity of one of Melbourne’s most popular restauarnts.

Chin Chin

Wait, how did we get here? Hangover 3?

Hang on, let’s rewind. *videotape rewind sound*

Chin Chin

Chin chin pork “roll ups” – red braised suckling pig w/pancakes, slaw & Asian herbs ($19)

Chin Chin is, broadly speaking, an “Asian” restaurant. Specifically, you’ll find Malaysian influences with splashes of other Asiatic cuisines, and that’s what will shine most on the menu.

Roll me up, I say, as suckling pig “roll up” rolls marks the first course. Yeah, it’s pulled pork, it’s that classic herby tang, and there’s chilli if you’re feeling game.

Chin Chin

A dramatic improvement over Uncle Toby’s

For me, this is a familiar, homely dish. While the spin is decidely not Chinese, I could almost taste home when I bite into these. The pork is somewhat dry, but that’s minimised, as the rest of the dish pulls their respective weights. It’s all about the flavour, and that was delivered in porcine, piquant spades.

Chin Chin

Grilled roti madtarbak filled w/Indian spiced beef & cucumber relish ($12)

With the soft and moreish flavours and textures of the roll-ups, we felt it was appropriate to counter with a dish embodying a crunchier soul. Bring on some grilled roti madtarbak.

Switching to our beloved beef, this Malaysian, bovine treat is a treat. Portions are proportioned well, with a nice level of crunch to the roti itself that lends itself to many more bites.

Chin Chin

The crispness, the crunch. It’s got it all.

The bovine aspect of it was less impressive – the beef was of a grainy texture, without too much flavour backing it. Sauce to the rescue? Perhaps, but the roti doesn’t stand by itself in taht respect, which is a letdown. Still, one can’t fault that crunch – it’s a textural sensation.

Chin Chin

Salt & pepper salmon fin w/banana blossom salad, sweet fish sauce & peanuts ($14)

Here is where Chin Chin got inventive – I’ve never had a dish quite like salt & pepper salmon fin before. In fact, I wouldn’t have thought that these parts of salmon could ever be a hero element. There’s a first time for everything.

Chin Chin

Thai salad. The only acceptable salad.

While technically a salad, as with all Thai salads, there’s so much more to it. Mainly, the inclusion of a non-trivial amount of protein! This is why I love Thai salads. The salmon’s guilty deep-fry definitely made its presence felt, a deliciously oily, salty & peppery combo with the fattiness of the fish itself is most salient.

Oh, was there a salad to go with it too? Yes my bad, I ate that too. Cleaning plates is my thing.

Chin Chin

Crying tiger – chargrilled sher wagyu w/chilli tamarind dressing, ground roast rice, fried glass noodles & holy basil ($29)

This dish takes sole responsibility for the literal “hotness” I described Chin Chin with at the beginning of this post. My goodness, if tigers really had this dish, they would be crying indeed.

The crying tiger is quite possibly one of the hottest, non-hot pot restaurant-dishes I’ve ever had. If you’re not good with spicy, seriously do not go for this. Or at least, order something with milk in it. Thank me later.

Chin Chin

What a tear-jerker this was

That said, it’s a seriously nice dish, if you can even taste anything after all the chilli assaulting your taste buds. The wagyu is juicy and decadent, while the dressing, spiciness notwithstanding, brings serious zing to the table. KFC, you need to step aside and transfer the “Zinger” title to dhis dish.

I can’t order this again though. My glory days of chilli-stuffing are over. This dish has knocked me over – you win Chin Chin, you win.

Chin Chin

Massaman curry of coconut braised beef w/kipfler potatoes, peanuts & crispy shallots ($26)

Thankfully, a dish with milk was indeed on the agenda, without even realising the important role it would play in annulling the chilli hell that was the Crying Tiger.

Every time I decide on a curry, I always ask myself “why is it that I don’t order curries more often?” Honestly one of the greatest supertype dishes out there, I really do wonder this. This feeling of bewilderment is all the more exacerbated by Chin Chin’s Massamun curry, which really, is a king amongst curries.

The rich, spicy, plush curry is all I would have needed for my rice, but the soft, melty braised beef is where it’s really shining. I couldn’t really fault this curry, apart from one personal gripe with the amount of fat on the beef. Other than that, give me some more.

Chin Chin

Yellow heaven coming right up!

I have a strong aversion to rice-carbs, but when I’m craving my third bowl, you know there’s a great curry that’s in the shadows, steering me to curry heaven.

Chin Chin

I’ll just leave this here…

A fun and whacky place, I can only imagine how Chin Chin will transform at night. Someone try out their drinks for me, yeah? 18+ only 😉

Chin Chin

Till next time ya hipster

Overall, I was content with Chin Chin. Starters were not so impressive, and the spiciness of the Crying Tiger really lived up to its name, though not in a good way. I will return, as I’ve only begun to dent its enormous menu.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀

Awesome:

  • Some seriously amaze dishes – especially the curry
  • Fun and classic Melbourne-hipster atmosphere

Not so Awesome:

  • Bawl your eyes out and claw your taste buds if you choose Crying Tiger
  • Starters were stock-standard, uninspired dishes
  • Service will take a hit during peak times…which is almost all the time

7/10 Caesars

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon

22 comments on “Chin Chin | Melbourne”

  1. Luke Reply

    Much much much better food to be had in Melbourne. The menu is average and majorly overpriced, the quality is just above a soup kitchen.
    The sfaff both times have been really friendly except I didn’t go for the service or to eat the staff.
    In two visists 18 months apart nothing has changed.
    Why people would ever rate this place over 2.8 to 3 stars has me wondering if they know food.
    Either save the money for a real dining experience or eat at the soup kitchen.

    • Michael Shen Reply

      Hi Luke, looks like you have some strong views on Chin Chin. While I’ve never eaten at a soup kitchen, your comment in comparing Chin Chin to one does come off as a little strong. Of course, I don’t think CC is the best Thai I’ve had, but I find it above average, at the very least.

      Also, not entirely sure what you define a “real dining experience” by – that’s inherently subjective.

      That said, I’ve visited Melbourne about 8 times since Chin Chin and I haven’t been back – I do agree with you that there is much better food to be had in Melbourne.

  2. Annie @ The Random Foodie Reply

    tried to go to chin chin when i was in melbourne but there was a 45 min wait and there were 3 starving guys with me sighs. definitely gotta try that grilled roti madtarbak when i dine here

    • Michael Shen Reply

      Patience will definitely have to be your virtue when waiting for Chin Chin. There is no other place that’s consistently this packed!

    • Michael Shen Reply

      I wouldn’t, but luckily I didn’t have to when I went. Next time, I’m going to go during a seriously off-peak period to maintain the streak.

  3. Padaek Reply

    I love modern Asian/fusion/Oz food like this and am a big fan of crying tiger, although the one you had sounds more like screaming wildcat, lol! Perhaps, someone knocked the chefs elbow when they were adding the spices. Looks delicious still though, although I take your word for it if it is ott spicy. The grilled roti madtarbak looks interesting and tasty. Great post and pics Michael! 🙂

    • Michael Shen Reply

      Quite possibly, though my chilli tolerance has gone down from the once almighty days. You may be able to do much better than me on that front!

      Will definitely return for more of their gigantic menu. Thanks for the compliments as always, Padaek 🙂

  4. Sherrie @ Crystal Noir Reply

    Totally dug this place when I went last year. My friend went the other week and said she went on 3 consecutive days trying to dine here and only managed to get a table on the last day! Queues sound like they’ve gone super intense :O

    • Michael Shen Reply

      I definitely want to return – not sure I had a perfect first experience, but there’s so much on that menu that I itch to take another crack at it.

  5. ChopinandMysaucepan Reply

    Dear Michael,

    We walked past this joint after our lunch at Supernormal and it was still pumping at 3pm on a Thursday afternoon. I doubt I will queue for this kind of food, no matter how good.

    • Michael Shen Reply

      To be sure Chopin, I’m not sure what kind of food you would queue for. That said, plenty of options abound, with or without queues.

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