Chin Chin

125 Flinders Lane, Central Business District , Melbourne, 3000, Australia

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  • +61.2 8863 2000
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Chin Chin is the creation of Chris Lucas (of Pearl), with chefs Andrew Gimber (formerly at Sydney's Jimmy Liks) and Ben Cooper. It serves modern Thai food in a casual setting, where no reservations are taken. This does not seem to be a drawback for them, as on the lunchtime that I visited the place was packed out. The dining room has plenty of natural light and an open kitchen in one corner; as well as the regular tables, there are (remarkably uncomfortable) bar stools arrayed around the open kitchen area.

Spicy egg net rolls with spanner crab and chilli jam provided an excellent start to the meal. The rolls were light in texture and the crab flavour was not crushed by the chilli, as it could easily have been (14/20). Wok-fried salt and pepper squid with Vietnamese mint and nuoc cham (dipping sauce including fish sauce, garlic and vinegar) featured squid that was almost entirely of the non-rubbery variety, while the mint worked well (13/20).

The only relatively unsuccessful dish of the meal was crisp barramundi and green apple salad with caramelized pork, chilli and lemongrass. The spicing was fine, but the barramundi had a slightly chewy texture, while there was a little too much sweetness in the dressing (12/20).

The kitchen showed that it could in fact cook barramundi via a dish in which the fish (wild rather than farmed in this case) was steamed in a banana leaf and offered with a little red curry sauce, lime and Thai basil. The texture of the fish was lovely, soft and with good flavour, while the spices with it were carefully balanced (14/20).

Pad Thai with prawns, banana blossom and dried shrimp had large, tender king prawns, while the noodles had excellent texture (14/20).  Steamed spanner crab and chicken salad with green mango, chilli and coconut dressing also worked well, the crab flavour surviving the dressing, the overall dish well balanced (14/20).

Service was friendly, and the bill came to AUD 68 per person, with a beer (£45). A very enjoyable experience, other than the bar stools, which seem to have been designed by someone with training in the Spanish Inquisition.  On leaving the restaurant I hobbled out as if I had been out horse riding all day.

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