Tag Archives: CBD

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

birthday, beer and burgers

As the lovely birthday celebrant Anna pointed out, who can refuse a cheap beer and burger deal and alliteration? But seriously, Melbourne’s favourite non-blogging food blogger was celebrating – who could miss it for the world? 1000 Pound Bend has been around for quite some time and they even have a Cafe Poet but to be honest, I’d been too wimpy to go. It would appear it’s not hipsters who have a problem with me, maybe I’m the hipster racist! I like the inclusive ones, honest! There just doesn’t seem to be many of them…

pretty lights

Anyway. Anna’s birthday. As soon as I got through the door, a jam jar of mulled wine (or three) was the ticket. Melbourne had been gorgeous all day and then fog descended like mad and it got fucking freezing. They really hit the spot.

mulled wine

An amusing blog post has been making the rounds of late and I realised that, sadly for you, dear reader, I identify with quite a few types. My personal favourite is this one:

The Literary wannabe
Probably the least read of the tribe. Pepper their posts with writerly posturings and clumsy literary references that any grade five kid could recognise.

Oh so guilty as charged. However, this post conforms to another one of the types listed which to be honest I find a little less shameful:

The ‘what I ate last night’ crowd
Totally pre-occupied with explaining in excruciating detail, the contents of their bowl of Weetbix and milk

I guess one of the reasons I find the latter less shameful especially in this particular situation is, laugh if you want, but often looking back on this food blog has been a chronicle of really positive memories and meeting people who have given off those vibes. It’s also been a lovely pleasant distraction from not being able to write any poetry, or find readers for said poetry when written. Of course there’s nothing wrong with your friends not wanting to read your poetry (it is nice when they invariably do) but when an activity like that means the world to you and you have no audience, it gets very lonely.

St Jerome's Caledonian lager

So my apologies – you’re reading about the burger, beer and cake I had the other night at some trendy joint because I’m trying not to sook about my ignored, appalling poetry!

Personal disappointments aside, there are a few reasons you should probably check out 1000 Pound Bend if you’re in the area and particularly on a Tuesday night. $2.50 pots of St Jerome’s Caledonian lager and $8 burgers – you can choose from a patty of roo, chicken or saganaki. I know Anna went the saganaki. I had a roo one which while absolutely delicious is not a first date experience: you’ll get it all over your hands and all around your mouth and one napkin will not be enough to save your dignity.

Tristan came fashionably late (a few folks did have an half-hour wait at some stage in the night because the burgers were very popular, do note) and his order got a little lost in the matrix and only chicken was available to him. I believe you need to turn up between 5-11pm for the cheap beer and burgers.

roo burger

I may have got a little enthusiastic about eating my burger, so much so that I nearly inadvertently body modified my lip with a skewer piercing. Uh yeah, remove the skewer before you eat your burger, folks, even though it will fall apart. You can see how they would be unwieldy – look at it, leaning all Tower of Pisa-like. Beautiful sweet-sour relish and a not too gamey pattie. Could’ve had two, really.

Billy of course had his burger-eating technique down-pat: the trick is to take the top of your burger bun, scoop out the soft underneath, replace and then proceed to eat like a…fast food burger, and with some dignity. Both in Melbourne eatery and kitchen know-how, Billy really never fails to make my jaw drop (unfair, man). On this particular night it was directly because of the lovely birthday cake he made with Penny and Henry’s help. He is going to make the best guncle ever to future nephews and nieces.

the best homemade birthday cake I have ever seen

Of course it was delicious, the birthday celebrant loved it and Billy sliced it and doled it out like a pro. Truly.

burger birthday cake, detail

The venue were kind enough to supply extra crockery and cutlery.

A wonderful night was had by all. Happy birthday, dearest Anna!

1000 Pound Bend on Urbanspoon

oh crumbs!* of macarons? ooh yes!

It seemed to be one of those days: you can’t say or do the right thing and your loved ones are incurably miserable. It does leave one wondering why one bothers to get out of bed at all (being an unemployed bum, I can exercise that luxury, should I want to).

Given my shit record for standing up @becksley (or good, depends on how you look at it: good at standing up, bad for standing up), I was determined to accompany Tristan on his work commute and hang in the city till it was time to see the lovely lass in question. This meant what’s become a fairly regular habit of accidentally annoying the baristas at Cup of Truth in the morning.

It’s a sad day when even Courtney’s flawless soy Magic doesn’t make me grin like a fool.

So off I trotted to my former workplace, Elevenses where dear Shanny lovingly made me a pourover of the Toby’s Estate Guatamala El Tambor CoE #7 which incidentally has notes of fresh toast (non sequitur: oddly enough, Shanny’s name autocorrects to ‘shabby’ on one of those smartphones).

Armed with some poetic inspiration thanks to one of Shanny’s neologisms, I left with my tail a little less between my legs to see B who is, it’s fair to say, quite obsessed with macarons. She can make them (quite proficiently from what I can glean) and she’s also written a really cool zine about them. In typical angry-ranty-adorable B fashion, she declared that an establishment whose name I shall not mention made macarons of fairly average quality and that it was imperative we both visit La Belle Miette on Hardware Lane, CBD.


I’d like to think that I’m immune to fads – macarons included – but I realise I’m hardly an impartial judge. If B was mad keen on these saccharine treats from La Belle Miette, they must be pretty bloody good. As soon as one sights the shop, you can’t really help but be infected with girlie glee – it looks utterly charming and stocks a select range of beverages designed to appeal to your inner Francophile – artisanal soft drinks in reusable bottles and Mariage Frères tea.

Your main problem with the macarons will be what flavours to select (to eat in, or take home in beautifully designed boxes to protect your yummy treasures) and how many to stop at. I began with the rose, cherry blossom and sake, and a brand new offering – wasabi. The rose is one of those macaron flavours I always order when available – it’s not too sweet and I like that flower-burst-in-my-mouth quality it has. This did not fail to please. Vanillary, buttery goodness. The cherry blossom and sake, I confess I expected a little more from – I couldn’t really taste the sake and felt that the cherry blossom could be a little more ‘flower-bursty’ (yeah, look at me, all technical-like). Oh, but the wasabi, WOW. Perfect marriage of sweetness with the added kick that only wasabi could have. I do also love their doilies – my mother used to crochet ones just like this when we still lived in England! Sadly, when we came to Australia, her crotcheting style remained firmly stuck in the 80s (it still is, alas).


B said that strawberry is one of her ‘measuring macaron quality’ flavours, like rose is to me, so she started off with the strawberry and vanilla, and a pink grapefruit. She donated a pinch of the latter to me – a touch of the mouth-puckering sourness of the fruit was pleasingly evident.

Ding ding! Round two!

I’d been greedily eyeing the raspberry and the 72% cocoa chocolate single origin Venezuela macarons. B also had a chocolate one and added a violet and blueberry one too. The raspberry one had even more scrunch-up-your-face tartness than the pink grapefruit, and I was pleasantly surprised by how bitter and not-sweet the chocolate one was. It is rich and has a lot of depth in its flavour. It being bitter is not a slight – quite the opposite, actually.

dark chocolate & raspberry macarons

The texture of the macarons is very consistent – slightly hard shells yet soft but not bone-dry. I want to say they are slightly moist but that’s not quite right either. The ganache complements the shells wonderfully and is not overdone in sweetness. The owner Maylynn is lovely and was happy to natter to me and B about all the secrets of macaron making (which sadly is lost on me given my lack of culinary prowess). B looked like she was in her element, talking to a professional trained hardcore in France. Fellow food blogger wankster Em who can actually make macarons unlike my sorry self has also visited and reviewed La Belle Miette: I urge you to read her aficionado account.

I wouldn’t normally say such things, but should you happen to get into a fight with someone and wanted to make it up to them, you could do little wrong than to buy a box of wonder from La Belle Miette. In fact, I’m off to start engineering fights right now…

La Belle Miette on Urbanspoon

*miette means ‘crumb’ in French, but I also fondly recall that Penfold from Danger Mouse is partial to the trepidatious exclamation “oh crumbs!”.