125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (03) 8663 2000
After surprising a girlfriend by coming to Melbourne for her 40th celebrations, we decided to head for lunch and a couple of wines. As the local expert, she chose Chin Chin for lunch, somewhere I’d walked past before and wanted to go back to. Our timing was great (about 2pm) as most of the CBD lunch crowd had gone back to work and Chin Chin doesn’t take reservations. Our friend told me that it’s customary to wait quite a while to get in (just like Mamasita, another CBD gem).
While we were hanging up our coats (yes it was freezing in September) I took in the interior design. High ceilings, funky pop art style posters, open(ish) kitchen and industrial style design… loved it! Our friendly and enthusiastic waitress explained that Chin Chin is all about sharing to enjoy different tastes from the menu. I loved the simple way the tables were set, with the menus as placemats. Had we been hungrier we would’ve gone for the ‘Feed me’ option at $66 where they just bring you a selection of their favourites. Perhaps next time…
We both ordered a glass of sparkling to celebrate the surprise and my friend’s birthday (although we never need a reason to drink sparkling!). For our entree, we chose the Spicy corn and coriander fritters with iceberg lettuce and chilli jam ($12). We asked the waitress to confirm that yes, we were supposed to wrap the fritters in lettuce, then drizzle with chilli jam and eat. They were delicious. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and tasty. The cool lettuce leaf was a great contrast to the hot fritters, and their chilli jam rocks!
We asked the waitress to help us choose between Indian style barbecued goat with cucumber and mint raita ($28) or Grass fed Hopkins River sirloin with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, chilli, coriander, lime and roasted rice ($26). Both of them sounded delicious…! She told us that the goat curry was her absolute favourite so we went with it, along with a side of Roti bread. The flavours of the curry were divine, but actually didn’t taste Indian. It was deliciously spicy (warning to spice wusses out there) and made with a well balanced curry paste. The goat itself was actually a bit tough which was disappointing, but again, the flavour was a winner. I can’t believe I’m saying this (for health reasons) but I prefer my Roti a little more buttery and oily than Chin Chin’s. Its texture was a little dry and crispy. I’ve seen a TV chef make Roti, and I’m sure I recall them soaking the dough in ghee to get that delicious buttery flavour and texture.
It’s a pity we didn’t have room for dessert as their menu was very tempting. Top of my list was a Palm sugar ice cream sundae with salted honeycomb and lime syrup ($14). My friend had tried the Three colour pudding on her last visit, although she said it was “different” she recommended it.
I kept a copy of Chin Chin’s menu and am sitting here salivating just reading through it. Despite the somewhat disappointing goat and roti, I would definitely go back to sample any number of things on the menu. Service is great, prices are reasonable, ambience is fast and funky, and flavours were delicious. Next time, I’d like to go with a group of 4 or 6 so I can try more dishes!