Friday, July 13, 2012

CHIN CHIN - Thai heaven in Melbourne!

If you’ve done your research you will know that Chin Chin is currently one of the most popular restaurants in Melbourne at the moment. The following post will not only explain why, but take you on a culinary adventure of those gorgeous Thai flavours you can’t help but love!
 This modern Thai Restaurant on Flinders Lane does not take bookings, so expect to wait up to an hour or more on weekends and close to that during week nights and peak times to be seated at a table. If you’re clever, you will rock up early and have a few drinks in the bar downstairs until a table is free in the upstairs restaurant. If you’re extra clever, you will grab a menu and have your entire meal already decided upon once seated in the restaurant!

We tried the "Far East Side" Cocktail which was ever-so-smooth, with thai basil, palm sugar, rum and lemon!

We came to Chin Chin after 8.00pm on a Sunday night and waited approximately 20 minutes to be seated, which gave us just the perfect amount of time to try a gorgeous lime, palm sugar, rum and Thai basil cocktail that was absolutely smooth, refreshing and prepared our palates for the Thai flavours that were about to come!

Not to spoil the ending, but after such an incredible meal, we cancelled the next night’s Moroccan Restaurant booking and came to Chin Chin yet again – This time, with four others who were keen to try the restaurant we had raved so much about!
This gave us an opportunity to try multiple dishes, however the two dishes photographed were the meals ordered on night one at Chin Chin,

The waiter was very keen to explain to us that at Chin Chin it is all about sharing and enjoying the experience by trying a select few meals from each of the starters/entrees/mains/larger meals and dessert menus.
The beauty of Chin Chin is there is usually something for everyone.
I found many vegetarian/seafood dishes I was keen to try and as our guests were Coeliacs, the staff at Chin Chin were happy to circle nearly every main on the menu as options they could prepare gluten-free! They were very accommodating, and we managed to try our entire seven dishes gluten-free!
On the first night, we ordered the “Pad Ped” which is a dry curry of spice crusted and fried tofu with vegetables (approx $16) and the red curry salmon wrapped in a banana leaf (approx $25).
We had a bowl of rice each to go with our mains.

The dry curry was very spicy with big chunks of crusted tofu, which after breaking through the crusty spiced layer, you taste the smooth soft tofu that melts in your mouth. The veggies add a nice touch to the meal, and rice helps to sooth the heat!

As optional sides, Chin Chin offers a “cooling plate” and a “hot plate” for those who need to tone down the chilli/spiciness and those who love to ramp it up!
The cooling plate consisted of cucumber, pickle, lettuce and ginger soy and the chilli plate had condiments of hot chilli’s and everything spicy! I love this idea, as it enables you to tailor the spice to your liking.

The salmon came out wrapped in a banana leaf and unwrapping this “gift” gave us a beautifully cooked piece of fish that flaked away at the touch. The red curry paste was very strong and prominent in the dish. I love red curry and chilli, so this was right down my alley, but my sister mentioned that this could become quite overpowering if you were not a huge red curry/chilli fanatic.
Note taken.
I proceeded to inhale the most amazing tasting salmon I think I’ve ever had!

The following night, we tried the chicken Pad Thai, the cuttlefish stir fry, the pumpkin yellow curry, the green chicken curry, salmon a crispy barramundi and caramelised-pork salad and another red curry and pad ped!
The chicken Pad Thai was by far one of the best Pad Thai’s I’ve had at an Australian restaurant! (I say this because nothing compares to Thailand).
What’s that?? Chicken you point out. I am quite happy to pick around a white meat like chicken in a dish, especially when the fried rice noodles are deliciously sweet and the nutty cashews on the side have a beautiful crunch to team with the tamarind flavour of the bean shoots and fresh coriander.

The pumpkin and eggplant yellow curry was my favourite of the night, the sweet pumpkin in the mildly spicy yellow curry sauce complimented each other incredibly and the sauce was so more-ish, I just wanted to lick my bowl clean!

The crispy barramundi salad were told to “make sure we incorporated the sweet, spicy and sour components of the salad together for the perfect balance of flavours.” And were they right!
The sour lemon juice with the sweet palm sugar and caramelised pork teamed beautifully with the spicy chilli. This salad was a winner.
The green chicken curry was strangely dominated with a strong lemon-flavour throughout the sauce, quite different to the usual thick, creamy green curry sauce I’ve had many times. I found this dish quite disappointing as the curry sauce was not a spicy as a green curry should be, and had more of a juice than a creamy texture I had hoped for.

The cuttlefish stir fry surprised me when the cuttlefish came out chopped very small and tossed with veggies in a beautiful spicy and sweet stir fry sauce. The fresh fish worked great with the spicy flavour and I was eager to use my steamed rice to soak up the remainder of the sauce.

After seven dishes shared, we were very content.
We discussed the beautiful flavours of each of the dishes we tried, and pondered the relevance of the strange gigantic pink florescent bunny ears that lit up the brick walls of the restaurant and featured on each waiters t-shirt.

I enjoyed the entire experience of my meal at Chin Chin.

I love Thai food regardless, but was so inspired by the modern and unusual ways the authentic Thai flavours of sweet/sour/spicy were incorporated into dishes and the perfectly cooked ingredients.

Highs: The spicy red curry salmon and that sweet creamy pumpkin yellow curry!
Lows: Not being able to book a table
Overall: Incredibly tasty, fresh and beautifully presented meals in a packed out restaurant!
Will I return? If coming back the second night in a row doesn’t express my enthusiasm, I don’t know what will!

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