Chin Chin

125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Date visited: 26th July 2012

I take visiting the most talked about restaurants on Urbanspoon with a grain of salt.  I've been to Mamasita and The Hardware Societe and had left feeling somewhat underwhelmed and wondering what the hype had been about in the first place.

We came to Chin Chin early, before noon as we knew there would be a wait during the peak lunch hour despite it being a weekday.  It was just half full when we arrived so we were seated immediately.  
Now, there is barely three inches between your table and the next, so you feel kind of like you're dining with a table of strangers.  It's the perfect place for a cop on stakeout to spy on their target's conversation.  I also got the best seat in the house, right behind the counter so people kept bumping my chair every few minutes.  And later, as the restaurant began to fill, the overhead music together with the loud chatter around us grew to the school-canteen like levels so shouting in your dining mates' faces became a necessity.

We each got a paper placemat with the menu conveniently printed on the underside.  We decided to get three things to share.
Menu (click for large version)
Sharing platters
Cute cutlery
It was a tad chilly outside, but MerlinFan couldn't go past trying the crushed coconut ice.  The flavours varied, and today it was watermelon and cucumber.  It had a slightly salty, coconut tang which she enjoyed.
Crushed coconut ice $8
Service was quick with our food arriving not long after our order. 

First, we had the Handmade crab and pork cakes with a salted duck egg and tamarind nahm prik.  The cakes were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, but neither of us could quite make out the crab in the cakes.  I love salted duck eggs, but the cakes were incredibly, incredibly salty.
Crab & pork cakes $15
Next, we had the Chin Chin pork roll ups, which consisted of braised suckling pig with pancake, slaw and Asian herbs.
Chin Chin pork roll ups $18
There was the DIY component which no doubt was part of its appeal.  You picked up your paper thin pancake and rolled up shreds of pork with the herbs.  
The pork was nicely seasoned and I really liked the sweet sauce that came with it.  However as soon as I took a bite of my roll-up, I bit into a chunk of coriander, which I didn't notice as I was assembling my roll-up.  I hate coriander!  Nassssty coriander!  It ruinssss it!
Lastly we had the Massaman curry of coconut, braised Hopkins River beef brisket with pink fir apple potatoes and crispy shallots.  It came with a bowl of rice.  The curry was creamy and nicely seasoned, and the beef fall apart tender.
Massaman curry $25

We were too full at this stage but we just couldn't say no to dessert - we just ordered one to try.  At first we wanted the palm sugar ice cream sundae, but after the creamy, rich curry, we decided to have something fresher to cleanse the palate.  MerlinFan chose the Candied toddy palm, honey roasted pineapple, coconut sorbet and crushed ice with dark palm sugar caramel.
Coconut sorbet, candied toddy palm, pineapple & dark palm sugar $11
I expected the coconut sorbet to be clear, like coconut water, but it was pristinely white and opaque, more like it was made from coconut milk.  As soon as I tasted the coconut sorbet, I turned to MerlinFan... YU-UM!  This was seriously one of the best sorbets ever - sweet, tasting strongly of coconut and silky smooth.  I would have happily sat there and devoured a whole bowl of that.  I was in sorbet heaven... it went perfectly with the sweet palm sugar caramel and the toddy palm.  The honey roasted pineapple on the other hand, tasted just like your regular canned pineapple.  It was also worth mentioning that I would have appreciated a dessert spoon rather than trying to clumsily poke around the delicate little cup with a giant tablespoon!
Another photo for the road
So, was Chin Chin worth the hype of being the talk of the town?  There is no doubt the novelty of the idea of exotic and varied Asian flavours and the sharing experience which is always fun as it lets you taste lots of different dishes amongst friends.  The variety is great and food is decent but nothing particularly to rave about.  Would I come back?  I was prepared to say I was happy to have tried it once but probably wouldn't go back, until I had the coconut sorbet... if I do come back, I'd skip the mains and go straight for dessert.

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon

<a href=""><img alt="Chin Chin on Urbanspoon" src="" style="border:none;padding:0px;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>


  1. Man.. food prices in Melbourne are steep huh! Atleast presentation is so so pretty. :)

  2. Hi Yellow, this review has resulted in me calling up my girlies and making a date at Sea Bay, very yum Asian food & very reasonable too (Sydney, you have to try it if you visit!)…there goes the diet! I'm visiting Melbourne this weekend for InDesign tho so definitely will pay a visit. I was wondering if I could maybe get some help? I’m working on a dating app atm, and a part of the app will have bloggers recommending 5-10 places in their city to check out for a first date, I was wondering if you might recommend maybe a few places you love? I will put links up to your blog on the app and so far we have 2,000 signed up to download the app (I'm pretty surprised but so excited!) you can pop on here – or email me on xxx

    1. Hi Lauren, thanks for visiting and congrats on your app. I do mainly breakkie/ brunch but will put up some spots tonight.