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Chin Chin

I’m very late catching on to the Chin Chin phenomenon in Melbourne, and when I say ‘phenomenon’ I mean that people queue for hours in peak times to dine at this Asian fusion restaurant.

Not being a fan of queuing for a meal I made sure we arrived early – 5pm. We were lucky and shown to a table within five minutes of our arrival, but it was only a few minutes later that I noticed the queue of people waiting to dine was out the door, across the front of the restaurant and starting to snake its way across the next door laneway.

The service was excellent with water being delivered to our table only seconds after we took our seats. Menus were placed in front of us and our waiter promised to be back shortly for our drinks orders. True to her words, she arrived and took our orders for drinks and food – we chose one of the ‘Feed Me’ menus, which is the chef’s selection of 8 dishes including dessert.

While it should be always be done, I have found that many restaurants don’t ask about food allergies and intolerances, but our waitress asked and then made sure she completely understood the fish allergies that one of our diners had, and made sure our food was prepared accordingly.

Our dishes started to arrive and I was suitably impressed, finally understanding why Chin Chin has this wonderful reputation for being one of Melbourne’s most acclaimed and famous contemporary restaurants.

We were into our third course before our drinks arrived – cocktails and a bottle of wine, but I was a little disappointed our drinks had taken so long to be served to us. Having said that, the cocktails and wine were really good, we had chosen well.

Every dish served brought to our table was outstanding with spices in perfect proportion, meat so tender it fell off the bone and sauces that packed a punch. Had the lighting in the restaurant been a little better I would have realized the green bean I bit into was actually a green chilli – and it was hot! Thank goodness there was some cucumber still on one of the platters to help cool down my burning mouth.

Chin Chin offers a variety of cocktails, substantial wine list, two ‘Feed Me’ options plus a very diverse selection of a la carte dishes. It’s not cheap, but the quality of the food is really good, as is the vibrant, almost hectic, feel to the restaurant. I found Chin Chin staff to be attentive without being intrusive; they knew the food on offer well and could explain the flavours and how best to eat certain dishes.

Our table was very close to the front door, which initially I thought was great, but as time ticked away, I noticed that people who were inside the door waiting for a table were glaring, almost willing us (and others) to ‘HURRY UP’! I found it a little off putting and constantly averted my gaze away from those who were not lucky enough to have a table as yet.

Open daily from 11am, Chin Chin is located at 125 Flinders Lane, CBD, Melbourne, and is a restaurant I would recommend. Would I queue for hours to get in? No, but I wouldn’t queue for any restaurant.

Reservations are available for groups of 10-14 guests, but smaller numbers can only dine on a walk-in basis.

by Carol Sheridan