Chin Chin

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Who: Chin Chin and GoGo Bar

What: Restaurant and Bar

Where: 125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000

When: Monday – Sunday 11am ’til Late

Why: A taste of true South-East Asia with a killer cocktail bar and simply wonderful service

Web: http://www.chinchinrestaurant.com.au/#

This little restaurant is getting huge attention across the food-loving city of Melbourne. Their walk-in only policy adds an air of mystery that results in a long and eager queue out of the door but never fear, you can spend that time waiting in the fabulous GoGo Bar downstairs.

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Food: Their extensive menu serves up all of your South-East Asian favourites from Massaman curry to crispy pork belly salad to pad thai and the customer focused and friendly staff will be more than happy to suggest something to suit your mood. If, like so many before, you have a hard time choosing when the whole menu sounds delicious then you can just tell the waiter ‘Feed Me’ and they’ll serve you up a selection of favourites for $69.

Just like the hawker dining halls of Asia that Chin Chin is modelled on, the seating is communal and your food will arrive when it’s done, not all at once. This was okay for my two dinner companions whose orange duck and sticky pork belly came out within 15 minutes and tasted incredible. I, however, waited 40 minutes for my duck Pandang curry with lychees and when it did arrive, it was maybe average at best.

Perhaps it was the anticipation and the awkwardness of eating when everybody else has finished, but it didn’t have of the unusual, bursting flavours of the other two dishes on the table. The service, however, was incredible, and my waiter apologised for the hefty wait when the meal eventually arrived.

When clearing up, the service continued to be fantastic as our waitress asking if everything was okay and again apologised for the lateness of the meal, and really meant it.

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Drinks: Chin Chin will not seat you until the whole party is there and sometimes there’s just a bit of a wait so they have devised a clever text system so that you can wait downstairs in the dark and delectable GoGo Bar and forget about the passing of time and you’ll get a friendly text when your table it ready.

Their drinks menu is impressive with a whole range of wine, spirits and beers and that’s before you are completely drawn in by their cocktail selection. Divided into seasons, their Winter menu offered up a warm buttery  tipple that came with a side of praline. How could I say no? The theatre of it all was fabulous as I watched them set it alight and pour with the same concentration and passion of an artist. It was a small drink for the $18 price tag but it was delightful and…basically a desert pre-meal.

Pros: 

All the atmosphere of a bustling Bangkok side street (with much better hygiene)

Two of three dishes were great

Cocktail bar is beautiful

Service is some of the best I’ve ever had

Cons:

Those who prefer a private table and a more formal affair will be disappointed

Waiting for my food

My curry wasn’t great and didn’t have much duck in compared to sauce

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