125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
(03) 8663 2000
Cuisine: Modern Thai
Prices: $9 for crunchy school prawns to $34 for Moreton Bay bugs
Hi all, it’s Hubby here making my restaurant review debut (I have previously made a cameo recipe post a while ago).
Recently, April has lost her blogging “mojo”. I put it down to a combination of recovering from jaw surgery, being too busy and me nagging her to spend more time with me rather than tapping away on the keyboard (sorry guys!). So being the loving, supportive husband I am, I’ve decided to help her clear the backlog of restaurant reviews.
According to April, Chin Chin has been all the rave of late on twitter/in the blogosphere/word of mouth, so we decided to try it out to see what all the fuss was about. We were working to a strict curfew of finishing dinner by 7pm or shortly after, so I could watch my beloved football team (the tragically hopeless Adelaide Crows – who actually won that night, to break a 6 match losing streak – onya boys!).
We had arranged to meet at the restaurant before 6pm to secure a table as they do not take bookings. I arrived first and was somewhat surprised that at 5.45pm, I had only just managed to secure one of the few (non-share) tables left. I was seated and had my drink order taken swiftly – I chose to start the evening with a “Ranga Red Ale” ($8.00) while I waited for April to arrive. Not a bad drop for a cold wintry night, and an aptly named brew might I add!
The atmosphere was already buzzing, with all of the non-shared tables now full and many of the shared tables filling up on the perimeter of the room. The décor certainly fits the bill for one of the hottest restaurants at the minute, with retro-looking asian posters covering most of the exposed brick walls. The wait staff looked bubbly, efficient, and decidedly hipster-ish.
Shortly after, April arrived and it was straight down to business. She had already done her homework on which dishes were “must haves”, although we considered a few different and interesting dishes like stir-fried wild boar and goat curry. In the end, we decided to play it safe and ordered the dishes she had heard good things about.
The first entrée to arrive was the Spicy Eggnet Omelette Rolls with Spanner Crab & Chilli Jam. The two rolls of thin egg net omelette were filled with a salad of shredded crab and what I thought was shredded coconut and papaya. I love coconut and its fibrous texture, and it was a perfect match for the delicate spanner crab. The Chilli Jam added flavour and punch to make a pretty damn good dish. I’d definitely order this again.
Next came the Grilled Roti Madtarbak filled with Indian Spiced Beef & Cucumber Relish. Murtabak (as I know it to be spelt in Malaysia/Singapore) is one of my favourite dishes, so I was interested to see what this modern rendition was like. Four small, flat pieces of perfectly crisp, but not oily roti were filled with a deliciously spiced beef curry. The cucumber relish really took the dish to another level though – it was sweet, tangy and had the freshness and crunch of the cucumber. This dish was a winner, my only complaint was the serve was a bit small.
The first main to arrive was the Green Curry of Rockling, Eggplant, Snake Beans & Thai Basil. The curry was very fragrant and had quite a kick for a green curry. The Thai Basil added a nice sweetness to the dish (perhaps a little too much for my liking) as well. We had two gripes though: we only counted 6 small chunks of fish, and the eggplant is actually eggplant seeds which look like large peas, but are crunchy and “pop” in your mouth with an explosion of a flavour I can only describe as unpleasant. There was also baby corn in the curry which wasn’t mentioned on the menu.
We ordered a second curry dish, Massaman Curry of Coconut Braised Beef Brisket with Pink Fur Apple Potatoes & Crispy Shallots. As with the green curry, this was served with a bowl of rice. I had high hopes for this dish as I am a fan of slow cooked secondary cuts, however I was disappointed that the brisket was dry and a little on the tough side. There was a decent amount of meat and the curry was what you’d expect of a Massaman – a little on the sweet side with lovely fried shallots sprinkled on top. The curry was very oily though and even after scooping away most of the oil from top of the dish, when we finished there was still a pool of oil at the bottom.
We ordered the Son in law eggs with Chilli Jam as a side dish to accompany our mains, as we’d seen Dani (OMG, like, how annoying is she?) from MasterChef cook it, and had eaten it at Gingerboy recently. The eggs were nicely deep fried but I like the yolk to be runny and ooze out, which these didn’t. They were soft though. I also thought the chilli jam and overall flavour wasn’t as punchy or memorable as Gingerboy’s ones.
We also ordered a serve of Chin Chin’s in house roti Bread to go with the curries. The roti was disappointing – rubbery and soft rather than flakey and crispy, and reminded me a little of the kind you can buy from the Asian grocer.
To wash it down, we had a carafe of the house Pinot Gris which was good value at $18 for 500ml. While it was a little on the sweet side, it was a great match for the spicy dishes.
Overall, we were really impressed by the entrees, however a little disappointed with the rest. We probably shouldn’t have ordered two curries as they were very rich. While the atmosphere was great (if not a little too noisy after 6.30pm, we had to almost yell to hear each other) and the wait staff were quite attentive, helpful and friendly, I wouldn’t say the meal lived up to my expectations. Perhaps if we had ordered the boar and the goat it may have been a different story? Maybe next time, but there are so many other places to try first…
Written by Hubby