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.
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.
Hang on, let’s rewind. *videotape rewind sound*
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😉
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 😀
- 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