I’ve never been one of the cool kids. I never wore the right clothes; never listened to the right music and I never knew the cools places to hang out. But every now and again I like to pretend. And a restaurant on Flinders Lane in Melbourne called Chin Chin is a great place to pretend.
Chin Chin serves Asian food but don’t expect authenticity. Authentic isn’t cool enough. Chin Chin serves Asian fusion. They take the best bits of Asian flavours and mesh them together in an approach that is way cooler than anything I could come up with. The walls are decorated in a ‘we just threw this together and didn’t even realise how funky it looks’ fashion. At night you can watch the contemporary art moving image projections on the wall of the neighbouring lane. But it’s the toilets that really show its cool credentials. Mere silence or music playing in the toilets would not be cool enough. Chin Chin teaches its customers the Thai language while they go to the loo.
Chin Chin is a ‘walk in’ restaurant meaning that it does not take bookings. Instead customers are asked to leave their name and number and wait for a table to become available. Being one of the current ‘it’ restaurants in Melbourne that wait can be a while.
The walk in policy at Chin Chin forced me further into the world of cool because we waited for a table to become available in their basement bar. Office workers enjoying Friday night drinks meant that the room was crowded and noisy. I don’t like crowded and noisy. I can’t hear the conversation around me and I tend to nod and smile at the wrong times. I was thankful when we were called to take our table.
But what about the food?
It was tempting to take the ‘feed me’ option, that’s cool kid for banquet, where for $66 per person a selection of dishes are brought to the table. However there was something on the menu that each of us desperately wanted to try so we couldn’t bring ourselves to give up control.
Salt and vinegar drumsticks were a table favourite however I found them to be a little strange. They really did taste like salt and vinegar which I can handle on my chips but on chicken I found the combination disconcerting. As you can tell from the photo I was the only one who thought this.
Dumplings, I love dumplings and these were a step above what you’d be served in your average dumpling house a few blocks up in Chinatown. Chicken, corn and ginger was again an unusual combination but in this case I could have ordered another 8 serves, just had dumplings for dinner and been a contented girl.
The main reason we didn’t go for the ‘feed me’ option was that we could not risk missing out on the crispy barramundi and green apple salad with caramelised pork. If a dish in a restaurant could change you life this is it. Who, where, how and why this combination of ingredients was put together I will never work out. I’m just glad I didn’t order 8 more serves of dumplings.
And before anyone mentions it I know that if I was truly cool I’d never have to wait for a table.