Posing the question as visitor from out of state, Where should I go for dinner in Melbourne for a gals catchup? The replies from friends, Olsen Hotel concierge, work colleagues come thick and fast and lead back to 'Chin Chin'.
Hearing stories of this perpetually packed restaurant, long waits, advice to get there early and 'no, we don't take bookings for less than groups of ten', is rather irksom to try our luck at getting a table for 8 people
Walking past Chinc Chin earlier in the day, we discovered the waitlist register comes out at approximately 5pm where we could write down our details and be texted when a table would be ready. Luckily for us, we received a text at 6pm stating that our table would be ready at 7pm, so it was time to stop shopping and hustle. This is where speed dressing and dry shampoo comes in handy.
With a growing crowd surrounding the front entrance, we bypass the queue to the direct entry down the cobble stoned entrance on Higson Lane into Go Go bar and slide into a booth. Go Go bar is considered the holding area for those waiting patiently in line for a table upstairs.
You immediately feel a great vibe to this place and the addition of super cool attentive staff, you know you are in good hands for the rest of the night. With the menu in form of a place mat set on the table, I'm bombarded with choice. There's the option of going with the 'feed me' banquet allowing the chef to choose random dishes on your behalf at $66 per head.
With my dining crew having a preference to try a few things on the menu rather than pigging out then rolling home. From DIY fresh spring rolls, delicious chilli salt chicken wings, wok fried salt and pepper squid that disappeared in seconds, chin chin egg fried rice to coat our tummies from the fire hit, chargrilled wagu, twice cooked melt in your mouth beef short rib and of course a side of chilli as we like it hot. The food is amazing reminding me of the fast paced, street inspired Thai menu and having all the dishes to share, make it so good for communal dining.
I can't tell you how good this place is, perhaps when you feel the spice hit kick in, see the diners nod in approval, conversations muffled with mouthfuls of kingfish sashimi, crunchy school prawns, tearing apart caramelised sticky pork sinking down the wine in quick succession, you'll understand why people are keen to go back as soon as possible.