Before Jeremy and I took our holiday in April 2012 to Melbourne, we already knew of some places that we very much wanted to eat at. And sitting at the top of that list (like it does on the urbanspoon website), was Chin Chin.
It took us two goes before we managed to get a seat. Our success came as we took advantage of the fact that it was Good Friday and most people would be family bound in their activities.
The atmosphere and decor here are funky and modern without trying too hard. It's bright and airy like a New York loft with people bustling all over the place and bar that stretches along one side with cocktails being shaken before the people seated there.
Since it's too late for lunch and too early for dinner we decide to eat relatively light. Everything looks amazing. It's Thai inspired cuisine and my mouth is watering from the intense aromas that circle us.
We start off with the Chin Chin pork 'roll ups'. They're red braised suckling pig with pancakes, slaw and sour herbs - enough to make four between us.
One bite in and it's easy to see why this is one of the dishes that this place is famous for. The pork is tender and packed full of flavour; the slaw crunchy and texturally diverse. They sit at home inside the asian spring roll like pancake and when you add that glorious BBQ sauce that comes with, you can't help but groan with delight.
Pork roll ups
Though we're extremely drawn to the massaman curry on the menu, we end up going for the chicken satay with cucumber and fresh herbs. Sadly this is no longer on the menu at Chin Chin, but it was very moorish and different to your standard satay. It had that great Thai influence of shallots and fresh flavours. The ground up peanuts that were smothered on top were an extra element that took this dish to the next level.
We so badly wanted to keep eating. Everyone around us was tucking in with gusto into dishes that looked and smelled incredible. But we knew we were close to the end of our stomachs capabilities so instead chose a drink and a dessert each to share.
The drinks can be chosen from a large list that is bound together with a cover that looks like the letters are made of duct tape. It's very fittingly labelled R18+.
I've gone for a very citrusy and pretty much phenomenal lemon grass cocktail. It goes down so smoothly and is made up of flavours and ingredients so complex that I don't even try to identify them. It's light and makes me feel buoyantly joyous. Jeremy's equally happy with his imported ginger beer that has added limes for even more taste.
Cocktail and ginger beer
Our afternoon tea finishes on a sweet note. There's the banana filled murtabak which is a dessert spin on a dish you normally associate with meat. It's slathered in condensed milk and tastes more like banana than the fruit itself. It's warming and extremely pleasing on the palate.
Banana murtabak and palm sugar ice cream sundae
And then there was the palm sugar ice cream sundae with salted honeycomb and lime syrup. It's Asian and delicate and very sweet. I like the tang of the lime; and the crunch of the honeycomb. Really, I just like the whole thing. It's a wonderful last bite as we finish our first time here at this popular Melbourne eatery.
Next time I'm back over east, I'll definitely be making my way back to Chin Chin and devouring as much of the menu as I can.