Tag Archives: Asian fusion cuisine

your game plan for Chin Chin

Look, I don’t care how much you love or hate no-bookings policies, I’m just here to offer you these two meagre kernels of advice.

First, if you want to actually dine at Chin Chin, then yes, turn up early and be prepared to wait. Once you’re through the door, the bar is actually rather nice to be seated at.

Second, when you do actually start to get your food, bolt all your plates down.¬†Nothing says “we want you get the hell out of here so we can shovel more people in” more than wait staff who try to take your communal plates with half their contents untouched and the diners very obviously in medias res of said dish. Pout.

Don’t take my word or Tristan’s: on the occasion I visited Chin Chin, I was suitably armed with fellow Melbourne foodie chums Andrew & Sam.

Tristan and I were uncharacteristically early despite my sprained ankle limp (sadly occurring a few days after Bloomsday and thus nullifying all Gerty McDowell jokes) and Chin Chin won’t seat you till all diners are present. This gave us an opportunity to admire our surroundings and share a bigger-than-a-stubby BeerLao: let not the miniature beer steins fool you.

Soon enough, our expected companions joined us and we all began to navigate the menus like the fatties we were – it was pretty difficult to decide what to choose! It’s great that everything is designed to be shared. I did sneak in a text to Billy who had dined here the week before but sadly Sam’s dietary requirements and preferences meant we didn’t get to act upon many of them. This did make for hilarity as we all heartily debated whether or not boar was really the brethren of pig and that if desired, we could indeed pretend it was related to cows.

It seemed funny at the time: Andrew often has that effect upon you.

Before the boar debate started, we ordered the kingfish sashimi with lime, chilli, coconut and Thai basil. What ho, do I smell Ben Cooper under the helm…? Does this mean he’s no longer doing St Ali nights? *lip quiver* The flavour palate does seem awfully familiar… What a note to start on: I could quite happily have eaten three servings of this and left for my provincial part of town feeling like I’d dined like a king.

Before launching into the fish and meat dishes proper, we shared a hot and sour duck liver salad with mint, coriander, lime and ground rice. Looking at some more recent photos of the menu, would appear that this item is no longer available. What, no suck (sic) liver salad?!?! What a shame as it was offally good… *ducks* Ah well, duck liver salad, long may you live in our not-for-consumption hearts.

It has to be said that ordering at Chin Chin is ridiculously difficult: there is a myriad of dishes that all have something tantalising in them and given the amount we all ended up ordering, we should have gone with their ‘feed me’ option which you need a minimum of two persons for. For 7 dishes, you pay $55, for 9 dishes, $66. However, we did not ask if this can take into account dietary requirements so you’d best ask before choosing this option.

After agonising deliberation, one of the seafood dishes we decided upon was the wild barramundi wrapped in banana leaves with coconut red curry, lime and Thai basil: notice a very similar flavour profile to the starter we ordered. I’m not normally barramundi’s prime cheerleader but this was irresistible.

Aside from Sam, the general consensus was that we had to order the wild boar stir fried with red curry paste, snakebeans, ginger and basil. The wait staff seemed to think so too, as this was the dish they tried to forcibly remove from us three times. Yes, despite us still very much scoffing it down greedily.

Because Sam couldn’t have the wild boar, she ordered the massaman curry of coconut braised Hopkins River beef brisket with pink fur apple potatoes and crispy shallots. The boar-eaters did, however, sneak a taste.

To continue with the medieval-style eating habits, we also ordered the Indian style barbecued goat with cucumber and mint raita. The goat was tender and made for a satisfying carnivorous experience.

We weren’t quite finished: the blokes were curious to try the son-in-law eggs with chilli jam and thus a serve was ordered.

Though there are no photographs, for liquid refreshment, we got both the punches offered on the menu (sadly, I was not able to discreetly snap a shot of their descriptions on the menu). One carafe had a massive crack in it and when we pointed this out to the wait staff, they very kindly supplied us with a complimentary full carafe! My favourite one was the first one which had a lot of Vietnamese mint in it and the table’s consensus was that it was the winning drink too.

Despite having to queue and ward wait staff off our still full plates, Chin Chin is an effortlessly swanky place to enjoy good food that uses various Asiatic corners for inspiration. The menu seems to change quite often (it is different enough now to what it was when we dined there in mid-June) and has invariably assured that I shall be revisiting, in the hope of catching dishes I didn’t get to experience the first time, fingers crossed that they will still be on the menu. Next time, I’ll have room for dessert too, dammit!

Now onward and outward to Cam’s 3D Amazeballs party!

Welcome to Amazeballs 3D!

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon

Good Beer Week: why cookies and zombies mixeth well

Luke Nicholas of Epic Beer owes me a beer.

How freaking cool is that? Though it’s perfectly obvious that I’m more than willing to pay for it anyway. In fact, me, Tris and bestie headed up to Cookie in the city to try out his newly released ‘Hop Zombie’ an imperial IPA – it took forty minutes for the one keg Cookie had to sell out. My ‘epic’ Google-fu tells me that this is 124 US pints.

The tale of why Luke owed me a beer and a chat was a simple one: at one of the more internationally focussed beer tasting events at the Atrium in Federation Square, I lined up all eager to pump the fellow serving for info on the Epic range. My eyes widened at the mention of numbers of hop flowers used in particular brews.

Alas, when it came time to serve me the serving lad didn’t seem as interested in sharing the knowledge he’d been so generous with his brethren. I seem to cop that a lot, eh? Either that, or seem to take it to personal offence.

In any case, I updated on Twitter what had happened and Luke direct messaged me with a promise that next time he was in Melbourne, we could have a chat and he’d buy me a beer.

I got my wish. It’s documented too – courtesy of a fellow who made his claim upon Tristan’s camera and subjected us to his regurgitation on a study about the crumbs and bottom contents of potato crisp packets and somehow likening it to beer. Uh-huh…

Epic Beer Hop Zombie launch at Cookie

And not before sampling the wares of Cookie’s Asian-influenced yummies: taro dumplings with chilli soy:

tapioca dumplings with pickled turnip, pork and peanuts:

wild mushroom salad with coriander, mint, chilli and lime:

stir fried pork belly with red curry, kaffir lime and beans:

The winner out of all these was the tapioca dumplings, though I didn’t think the taro ones too shabby either. The pork belly was a little over-fried (I keep going to spell ‘fried’ as ‘friend’ first: how telling!). I’ve dined at Cookie and the food has always been ace – too bad I can’t use any of my previous dining photos (quality of them is appalling) because the duck jungle curry, whilst being hot enough to make you see through time, is really, really good.

I still keep telling my mate Luke (who incidentally homebrews, even brought some in for me at my old work) that friends do not let friends eat jungle curry. But oh yes, oh yes they do. Cookie is not just a great venue for some good nosh, but they do have a great range of craft beer too.

If you missed out on sampling the Hop Zombie at Cookie as many punters did indeed, the Epic rep in Australia informs me that there are two kegs at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda (as well as two more at the sister venue in Darlinghurst), and one at the Royston in Richmond, just opposite the Mountain Goat Brewery, which you really should be checking out on Wednesday and Friday nights when you can.

Though Ben Kraus’ duplicitous new baby which goes by the name of either ‘Dog’s Breakfast’ or Brew 500 Rauchbier which I think I should have let warm up a bit to get its true flavours shining through. Still, if you were bereft of Hop Zombie, check it out too.

As for Epic Luke, I’ll see you at the Kiwi SpecTAPular and yep, I’ll be claiming that free beer. So damn starstruck right now.

Cookie on Urbanspoon

just don’t call it popcorn

After getting disastrously lost in South Melbourne (it’s one of my personal Bermuda Triangles in the dark) and downing a glass of Nogne O Norwegian ale, I had the good fortune to visit nearby Pekopeko (not to be confused with this Peko Peko) for the first time. I’ve heard eatie-foodie buddy Alex highly recommend their pop chicken (me: you mean, like popcorn chicken, from *text scratched out of transcript*? Alex: NO! well, I mean yes, but it’s called POP chicken. me: ah, okay…*scratches head*) but also took a fancy to the offer of an entr√©e special of wasabi mayo sliced beef and so, it was ordered. No regrets.

 wasabi mayonnaise beef

Ever faithful DSLR wanker and dining buddy Tris had been here before and said the bento boxes were imperative. I wasn’t going to argue. I chose the pop chicken bento after Alex’s testimonial. The bento boxes come with steamed rice sprinkled with black sesame seeds, pickled green beans and tempura something – not sure if it’s pumpkin or sweet potato as the texture of both is very similar when deep fried in batter. As for the pop chicken – tastebud explosion. Tender, wonderfully seasoned chicken morsels with the lightest, crispiest batter. These people could put You-Know-Who out of business. They remind me of kara age and tatsuta age but sort of rolled into one. Indeed, Pekopeko is not strict Japanese fare but rather a fusion of Japanese and Taiwanese dishes and flavours. Give me more!

 pop chicken

Tristan kindly took me up on my suggestion of ordering the five-spice squid. I mean, come on, lightly battered squid then sprinkled with five spice? How awesome does that sound? (I resisted the urge to use an interrobang there but it was damned hard.) This too was scoffed down at maximum speed – unlike my pop chicken which was scoffed down at maximum velocity (running late for a silent film screening with live music accompaniment round the corner so I had to nick my chicken morsels for consumption on the run). Back to the squid – more subtle seasoning and the squid wasn’t super-fresh but still extremely tasty. Again, the batter was fantastic.

 five-spice squid

I know I’ll have to visit again because I missed black sesame ice cream and Earl Grey pannacotta as dessert offerings. Oh to work in South Melbourne just so I could come here for lunchies (I’m told it is quite popular with the working locals). I will decimate you soon, my sweeties! With another bento beforehand, of course. The food is tasty and cheap and worth inventing excuses to head down for.

Peko Peko on Urbanspoon