Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Chin Chin II

January 2, 2012

I'm not sure that Chin Chin needs much introduction - anybody with access to the internet or other media will have read rave after rave after rave (for illustration, see the massive list of reviews at the end of this post). In summary: it's a super-hip, no-bookings place that does modern SE-Asian food and typically has lines out the door and a 90 minute wait for a table. We quite enjoyed our first visit, but hadn't been willing to deal with the stress and queues for a return trip until the combo of late lunch, heatwave and new year's day public holiday gave us an opportunity to visit when tables were in slightly less demand.

Even at 2pm on a 40 degree public holiday when the CBD was basically deserted, Chin Chin is pretty packed. Still, we managed to snare a table for four without having to wait, which I imagine is a are luxury. The menu had changed a bit since our first visit, meaning we were able to order a bunch of different dishes this time around.

First up: son in law eggs with chilli jam ($8).

The wonderful chilli jam made this dish a star - just the right balance of sweetness and heat.

We ordered a couple of mains to share - first up stir-fried snow peas, baby corn and chive flowers with black vinegar dressing ($15).

The vegies in this were super fresh, with the big chunks of raw chilli letting you decide how spicy you wanted your share to me (me: quite spicy, Cindy: mild). Cindy was a big fan, raving about the black vinegar dressing, while I thought it was refreshing and tasty without really offering anything stunning.

On the other hand, the aromatic yellow curry of roast pumpkin, char-grilled tofu and green beans ($17) knocked my socks off.

The deep, rich flavour of this curry was just outstanding - I'd love to get the recipe for their paste. The big chunks of char-grilled tofu and the tender, sweet pumpkin chunks combined beautifully as well - the best dish of our two trips to this place in my opinion.

We had another shot at the roti bread ($4) - this time around it was perfect, flaky and fresh and nothing like the rubbery version we had last time.

It's worth noting that both our mains were vegan, the pumpkin curry was gluten-free, and the menu promises that dietary requirements of all types can be catered for. Inclusivity for the win! It's also worth noting the portion sizes - after splitting two mains and a starter with Cindy I was stuffed to the gills. I suspect I ate more than my fair share of the curry though, because Cindy somehow still had room for dessert.

She went with the three-colour pudding (layers of sweet beans with pandan infused tapioca, caramel and crushed ice, $11).

This is basically a jazzed up version of Cendol. And like Cendol it has some wonderful novelty value (look at it!), but is all a bit sweet and sugary. Cindy didn't really love it, although that may have in part been because she was already basically full.

We had a pretty damn excellent lunch at Chin Chin - friendly service, great food and, most importantly when it's 40 degrees outside, air conditioning. Despite all the hype, the prices for vegetarian dishes at Chin Chin are still reasonable - Cindy and I managed two mains, a starter plus a roti and some rice for less than $50 (watch out for the drinks though, that's where they get you). We'll definitely return, but probably only when we can time it to avoid the crazy stress of their busy-ness (early and late lunches seem to be the best bets).


Read about our first visit to Chin Chin here. Then, if you can face it, make your way through all the other blog reviews. Nouveau Potato and Veg Food Diaries have given it the thumps up from a veg perspective, while non-vegos The Chronicles of Ms I-hua, Egg tarts and apple pies, Niche, Fork, Knife and Chopsticks, No Ordinary Man, Makansudah, Dangerous Duplicity, Makan Melbourne, Dine With Me, The Quince Poacher, Tiny Savages, Where Adles Eats, Irrepressible Food Baby, Poppets Window, i destination, Peach water, Sweet and Sour Fork, Melbourne Food Files, Dying 4 Desserts, Two Munch, eat, drink, stagger, The sticky and sweet, The Melbourne Foodie, Gastrogasmic, Melbourne Culinary Journal, capitalgourmand, dear melbourne, Fill My Belly in Melbourne, angryaussiefood, Temasek, onemelbournian, Food Chee, Excuse Me Waiter, Relish food and life, Popcorn and Toast, Eat This, Food Lovers Society, Gastronomical ramblings, table to tummy, Almost Always Ravenous, Does My Bomb Look Big in This?, Outright Gluttony, Köstlich, foodbitesandflights, mochii eats, kran and nina, funky ass and Addictive and Consuming have all enjoyed it since we last visited.

A few bloggers have been a bit disappointed by the much-hyped Chin Chin - see Very very Hungry Caterpillar, Gastrono Me, foodloca, Miss Adriennely, Momo and Coco, Hold the Peas and je t'aime l'automne.


Chin Chin
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD
8663 2000
veg snacks and mains $8-16, desserts $9-12

Accessibility: The entry is wide and flat; space between tables is mixed. All service is at the table and there's a 'disabled'-labelled toilet.


  1. My friend/colleague just came back from Melbourne raving about this place (as well as somewhere called Cookie, which looks amazing by the menu), and told me I must try to get in this weekend (because I'm heading to Melbourne tomorrow, wheee!). Alas, there's far too much goodness in Melbourne for me to waste a fleeting visit on lining up for aaaages. It does sound wonderful though!

    1. Hannah, I've no doubt you're in the know for the best spots to spend your fleeting visit. Have fun!

  2. I wasn't planning on visiting Chin-Chin anytime soon, as I'd heard vegans would have a hard time finding something to eat, so I really appreciate the info!

    1. You're welcome! If you're lucky enough to be seated by Jess, you should be well looked after. :-)

  3. Hello :) can't believe it took me so long to find your blog hehe ~ Nice review and as a new food blogger I'm a little ashamed that I still haven't made it to Chin Chin. But like you the a little bit annoying hehe!

    Glad you enjoyed it though :)

    1. Welcome Daisy! I'm glad we've caught up with each other's blogs now. :-)

  4. The meals look stunning but the wait times/crowds would be a huge turn off for me. It's the reason I rarely to go Veggie Bar AND the reason I keep missing out on Trippy Taco!

  5. I'm not vegetarian but I really love the veggie dishes at Chin Chin. The tofu salad and dry curry are my current favourites.

    Also, the vegetarian martabak and tofu slider downstairs in the bar are awesome for lighter snacks with cocktails.

    1. Tresna, those snacks sound fantastic! I'll have to venture downstairs next time we're in the neighbourhood.