This visit is all thanks to the amazing Anna Polyviou. My CHIN CHIN journey began by attending a dessert workshop ran by Aldi and Anna. I got to meet her and chat after the event and it somehow came up I was on my way to Melbourne to do some feasting. ‘YOU HAVE TO GO TO CHIN CHIN” – she said with so much conviction I thought her mohawk was threatening me. Ok Ok, it was on the list. But now I bow even further to the queen of desserts because she introduced me to not only my (now) favourite Pad Thai on planet Earth but my fave Thai restaurant in Australia.
CHIN CHIN AND GO GO VENUE:
CHIN CHIN is arguably one of the most successful restaurants in Australia, it is ALWAYS busy and is worshipped by diners everywhere. It is soon to open a monster venue in Sydney but their Melbourne flagship is where we dined. Six of us for dinner on a Friday – call us bloody mad!!! They don’t take bookings under ten people and this was something I tended to find across the entire dining scene in Melbourne. People in Melbourne respect food more than Sydney, it is a culture that dines as much as it breathes and the love people have for food is so much stronger down South of the border.
Queueing at Chin Chin is part of the dining experience. Up to two hours is considered normal. You arrive, you put your name on the list, they give you a guesstimate and they will call you. Bugger off, have drinks somewhere.
We got our table within an hour, apparently a Friday night miracle. The venue has Chin Chin upstairs and Go Go Bar downstairs. While Go Go Bar is (you guessed it) the bar section, it is also packed with booth seats and tables wherever space is available. The Chin Chin section was packed but they got us a booth downstairs that was marvellous. It’s all the same food it’s just a little more mood lit and the music pumps a little louder downstairs.
I would describe the place as a Thai restaurant for rockstars. It’s edgy, it’s high energy and it’s partying over food. It’s fucking awesome!!
ABUNDANT GENEROSITY IN FOOD:
It’s good to know Anna wasn’t sending me to Chin Chin to purely admire Executive Chef, Benjamin Cooper’s mohawk. The two could be confused for brother and sister and their kitchen skills are on par for excellence. Cooper rocks that kitchen like Dave Grohl smashes it out on stage. His modern take on Thai food is big, bold and no frills. Every meal is always generous, it’s not “small is best” in this place, it’s like you are over at Chin Chin’s house and Chin Chin’s mama thinks you need to be elegantly plumped up.
We took the “Feed Me” option – $69.50 a head and they just feed you. We had a vegetarian with us so every few dishes for the entire table were veggie, not lettuce cups with water sauce, balls-to-the wall vegetarian food porn seasoned carnivores would get hard for. They probably served us twelve courses for $69.50 each and after course five we nearly asked them to stop bringing food, we were stuffed!! Six people here for dinner including drinks worked out cheaper than two of us for lunch at Heston’s and there was probably about twenty times the amount of food. The place is made for long boozy dinners with friends, they aren’t rushing you out but they may keep feeding you until they carry you out and dump you in a back street-art covered laneway.
I immediately crushed on our waiter, Marcos. He was a young professional (attractive) waiter that, like all the other waiters in CHIN CHIN constantly juggled thirty different things. There is never any downtime for them, it’s table, people, food, drinks, repeat. I can imagine them all crumbling in a heap together at the end of every shift drowning their sorrows in cocktails and mountains of Thai food. Sign me up!! Marcos knew everything about the food and the drinks and in the end we allowed him to select absolutely everything for us.
There was one gripe – with so many meals coming we were never once offered new plates or cutlery, I had to ask for them. When the new plates came there was quite a bit of spilled food on the table that when Marcos started putting the plates down on top of it I asked if we could get the table wiped down prior to new plates. This was done with minimal fuss and I can see the go go go attitude in the Go Go Bar perhaps didn’t allow them to slow down and see the finer requirements. But all was forgiven because the food Marcos selected for us was some of the best I have eaten for the year.
THAI FOOD FROM UTOPIA:
Our table selections were next level and everything served is something I will remember for a long time. I cannot comprehend how they make profit with the amount of food they served us. Our savoury meals were……
- ABUNDANT COCKTAILS AND BEERS (I really didn’t want to discuss them as there was so much food to talk about but trust me – the drink game is strong)
- KINGFISH SASHIMI with lime, chilli, coconut & Thai basil
- CHIN CHIN PORK “ROLL UPS” – slow cooked pulled pork pancakes, slaw & asian herbs
- A VEGGIE version of the “ROLL UPS” the kitchen made for us
- PAD THAI NOODLES with chicken, peanuts, dried shrimp & bean sprouts
- PAD THAI VEGGIE selection made for us by the kitchen
- BBQ ORA KING SALMON in banana leaf, coconut red curry
- RED CURRY VEGGIE STYLE with Thai basil & coconut rice
- CHARRED GREEN CABBAGE with peanut relish, coriander & soy
- STIR FRIED GREEN BEANS & SHREDDED COCONUT with burnt chilli & cashew sambal
THE BEST PAD THAI ON PLANET EARTH:
Everything that was served was out of this world. So abundant, so fresh and so fracking delicious! I bloody loathe cabbage but faithful Marcos said I would love this cabbage and I hate him because I did haha. First cabbage (besides an old Yugoslavian salad I used to love) that I could stomach. The Kingfish Sashimi was a perfect starter and the Roll Ups were a lot of fun and delicious. Vegetarian dishes didn’t just stand out because they were veggo, they shone because they were amazing. The BBQ Ora King Salmon was a table favourite, sweet and scrumptious and as good as the Red Curry Veggie style.
But one shone above all else, a dish I was told I had to eat and a dish that is now a top ten of all time, a dish that needed to be presented to the table like Baby Simba on Pride Rock. There are Pad Thais galore the world over and then there is the CHIN CHIN Pad Thai. It’s bold and in your face and the winner is you add proportions to your own preference. If you want more nuts, scoop more nuts, if you want less beans then leave those little blighters on the platter. It’s a giant DIY Pad Thai where all the best of ingredients are there for the taking. I just wish I wasn’t getting full when this came so I could have devoured the lot.
And on a side note (see what I did there) the Stir Fried Green Beans with shredded coconut was so on point and divine I could have smashed this as a main on its own.
By the time desserts were served we were all in need for some form of medically induced purging. There literally wasn’t any more room. But we all suffered through force feeding and as is usual our second stomachs located in the hollow legs opened up to allow the dessert to enter. Their dessert selections are impressive and we smashed two of them.
- COCONUT PANNA COTTA with salted watermelon granita, mint & lime syrup
- PALM SUAGR ICE CREAM SUNDAE with salted honeycomb & lime syrup
They were both delicious but the presentation and flavour of the panna cotta won me over. The granita was refreshing and the zesty flavours gave me the added boost to finish the dessert. The sundae was delicious but a little heavier and more than one bite had me scared the entire meal would explode from my stomach as my belly was at total stretch point. I highly suggest activewear when dining at CHIN CHIN – anything that doesn’t have buttons or belts and plenty of stretch.
Melbourne’s CHIN CHIN is easily my favourite restaurant of 2017 (so far). There is a reason it is so fracking popular!! It’s rockstar street Thai food served in a rockstar venue. It’s not about quality over quantity – it’s epic quantities of consistent quality. Bravo to owner Chris Lucas and Culinary Maestro of Feasting, Benjamin Cooper! Can’t wait to hit up the new Sydney venue!
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
CHIN CHIN DEETS:
PH: (03) 8663 2000
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
BOOKINGS: ONLY FOR MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE – prep for up to 90min wait to get a table
HOURS: 11am until late – 7 days – they only close Xmas day
BAR: Licensed bar
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes – Vegan options even
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Yes – earlier
*** This meal was paid for ***