Walk down to Flinders Lane on any night of the week and you will see a long line outside a restaurant. Uninformed tourists might stare curiously at the line, wondering what on earth is worth lining up for, given that the lines often reach a 2 hour wait by 7pm on a weeknight. However, anyone who is anyone on the Melbourne food scene will tell you that they are lining up for Chin Chin, a Thai fusion restaurant and probably the most successful and famous restaurant in Melbourne, with queues from day one when it opened over five years ago. We have been here on two occasions and on both occasions dined at 5:30pm to avoid a long queue.
On our first visit, the entree we ordered was the Kingfish sashimi with lime, chilli, and coconut and thai basil. The sashimi is fresh and refreshing, nicely accompanied by the zesty lime and the chilli, for a kick.
The second dish is the caramelised sticky pork, with sour herb salad and chilli vinegar. The sweet and sour sauce of the sticky pork is so addictive, while the pork itself was tender and fatty. I was not a fan of the herb salad but then again, I do not enjoy South-East Asian salads in general as I find them too strong.
The third dish is the fried curry chicken with herbs, cucumber and mandarin. The chicken was nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and nicely balanced out by the fresh cucumber and mandarins, which added a sweetness to the dish.
We also ordered a noodle dish, the humble pad seuw with braised wagyu beef, gai laan, rice noodles and crispy shallots. This probably the best pad seuw I have ever had, the noodles were deliciously soft and silky and the wagyu beef was so tender, nicely accompanied by the crispy shallots.
On our second visit, we also ordered four dishes to share. The entree was the BBQ baby back pork ribs, with sriracha peanut caramel and banana blossom salad. This divine, the meat fell off the bone, while the sriracha peanut caramel sauce was an interesting combination that worked well, making the sauce both sharp and smooth at the same time.
For our salad, we ordered the seared yellow fin tuna with pink grapefruit salad and chilli jam. The tuna was amazing, so fresh and perfectly pink, while the chilli jam added a nice kick to the dish. The pink grapefruit salad, however was rather bitter, so I did not enjoy that.
The third dish was the massaman curry of coconut braised beef with kipfler potatoes, nuts and fried shallots. This is another standard curry dish that was done to perfection, the curry was so rich and full of coconut flavour, while the beef was well braised and the potatoes so tender, the perfect dish to go with the rice we ordered.
Our last dish was the crispy skinned duck with bok choy, lup cheong, shiitake mushroom stir fry and ginger soy. This was another great choice, the duck was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and the shiitake mushroom was full of flavour. The ginger soy sauce meant that this also went well with the rice.
Overall, Chin Chin is in a league of its own and a must visit for anyone in Melbourne. Everything I tried on the menu was a winner and it definitely lived up to my expectations. The food is affordable and the place has a hip ambiance, with a bar downstairs called Go Go Bar, where you can have a drink and wait for your table to be ready. With affordable prices given the quality of the food, it’s definitely one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne!