Chin Chin is a well established restaurant nestled within the Melbourne CBD on Flinders Lane. Most nights, pre-COVID-19, would see a crowd of people queuing just to feast at this joint. Normally you would need to book a time when you arrive and then queue up at the time you have been allocated.
Like all popular venues, we just wanted to know whether this restaurant was worth the hype and its popularity.
The venue is a long hall of tables and chairs and at the end is the bar. I think there might be a second floor, but I haven’t been taken upstairs before. For us, we were seated around the bar watching the dishes being made. The venue was bustling with people. It’s a loud place and its definitely not ideal for heart to heart conversations.
The food is mostly modern Thai dishes with some intriguing items on the menu like Sticky Tamarind Chilli Duck with Son in Law Eggs, Wok Fried Crab Omelette with Coriander and Sriracha and Jungle Curry of Steamed Fish and Diamond Clams.
A few things caught my eye. The Sticky Tamarind Chilli Duck with Son in Law Eggs and the Rotisserie Pork Belly with Fennel Pickle and Pineapple Hot Sauce.
It was a busy night, so service took a while to get to us. We didn’t mind, since we were seated in an area where we could see what was happening all around.
Service did feel rushed as we were moved from our seats at one point so that the restaurant could accommodate additional patrons. We were move only a few seats down. It was a hassle as we we had already been served our meals by that point. Overall, it didn’t impede too much on the night.
Here was our complete collection of food. We had a fish dish and some coconut rice on the side.
The presentation of the food was meh. It wasn’t amazing, but it also wasn’t horrible. At first glance, the Sticky Tamarind Chilli Duck with Son in Law Eggs did not look appetizing.
In terms of flavor, we were disappointed that night. We wished there was more of a balance of the typical Thai flavors, e.g. that balance of sweet, sour, spicy and salty. We just felt that all of dishes’ sauces had too much sweetness, e.g. sugar. The sweetness just masked the other flavors. Needless to say, we were expecting better food at a popular restaurant. Thankfully, the coconut rice was okay but that in itself has a lot of sugar.
Mind you, we should have tried more dishes and added some of their popular menu items to our order. We probably just chose some bad combinations from the menu. Honestly, I would give Chin Chin another chance, but haven’t had the chance. My next trip will be me going in with much lower expectations.
I thought the price at Chin Chin was steep given the offerings. Yes, most of the ingredients appeared fresh, but I feel I shouldn’t have to pay upwards of AUD$30-35 per dish or somewhere close to that amount when a chef’s secret is that he/she makes liberal use of sugar. Our final bill clocked in close to AUD$100.
For the record, my mum cooks Thai (because she grew up in Thailand in her late teens), she currently owns a restaurant, and she grew up eating a lot I eat a lot of Thai food. I know my Thai flavors. A slight imbalance of flavors is fine, but a big imbalance is obvious and concerning.
Since going to Chin Chin, the queue and the lines have been consistently long. I feel my view is in the minority opinion. Happy to hear what others think and recommend.
Chin Chin is located at 125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000