Review: The Sydney Chin Chin Restaurant experience!
Adding to the vibrant food scene in Surry Hills is the Chin Chin Restaurant which opened late last year, a sibling to the very popular and successful Chin Chin Melbourne which offers a modern take on South East Asian fare, particularly Thai cuisine. The restaurant occupies the Griffith Teas Building along Commonwealth St, one of Sydney’s landmark buildings.
Since the restaurant only takes bookings for 6 or more, the 3 of us showed up at their door by 6pm sharp. The queue has already started to build when we arrived and when it was our turn to be seated, no table was available for 3. Waiting time was 30 minutes so we decided to go to the bar, have a drink and wait.
Go Go Bar occupies half of the floor. The layout is similar to the Chin Chin dining area and you can order food with your drinks. Loud music was pumping, edgy art works adorning the walls. We were tossing whether to just stay in the bar and order food, or wait for a table in the restaurant, the floor staff in the bar were busy and it was difficult to get their attention. Looking at the drinks menu, it’s extensive with a wide selection including a list of exotic cocktails. We were beginning to feel desperate for a drink as the place was becoming busier. The waiter thankfully came over and took our drink order, phew.
Some of the cocktails didn’t ring any bells on our radar but sound appealing anyway, so we took a punt and ordered the following; Peach Bourbon – $17.50, Watermelon Vodka based – $17.50 Ham and, Pineapple – $19.50. After our meal, I found out about the interesting concept of the food and drink pyramid style as the focal point in ordering drinks rather than a cocktail category, no one explained this to us. As our nerves just started to calm down, a text popped up on my phone prompting us that a table is now available, so we moved from the bar to the main dining area.
The dining area occupies the other half of the floor including a basement for large groups, we were seated by the window and watching the floor and kitchen staff production was overwhelming. The dining area is ample, lots of natural light and modern with a neat layout keeping the rich industrial features of the building, accentuated by Chin Chin’s signature neon light.
All orders were taken promptly and drinks and food came out faster than expected. We shared our order and the first dish to arrived was the BBQ King Salmon in banana leaf with coconut curry- $26.50. The burnt flavour of the banana leaf added aroma to the dish but we were agog by the size of the salmon. For its price it was a relatively small piece. The salmon though was quite savoury, spicy and accented by the coconut flavour.
As we were just about to raise our glass for a celebratory cheers, the Wok Fried Rice Spanner Crab with Sriracha – $29.50 arrived. The crab was the hero of this dish whilst the rice was glossy and had a pleasing texture, complemented by Asian greens including pieces of baby corn and fresh coriander on top. Apart from the already flavoursome fried rice, the sriracha sauce added an extra zing to the dish.
Third dish was the Rendang Beef Curry – $26.50 with cumin, coriander and toasted coconut. Note that this is a dry curry which means the sauce is simmered down to a minimum. It was rich, tender meat, and spicy with amazingly complex flavours.
At this point, our table spread was getting full, which included a bottle of French ‘Ramea’ Rosé – $70 and sparkling water – $8.50. The last dish to arrived was the Rotisserie Pork Belly with pickled Fennel and Scud chilli death sauce – $30.50. This dish ticked all the boxes, the golden glistening pork crackling was crispy and the meat was oh so tender, a true melt in the mouth moment. The scud chilli death sauce is not for the faint hearted, it’s flaming HOT hence its name, Death Sauce. Having said that, as a lover of anything spicy, the sauce and meat mixed together gave a good chilli heat on the palate.
We skipped the dessert.
Overall, we had a good night albeit with the confusion at the start but as soon as we settled down in the dining area, we picked up how this place worked and its concept.
Food wise there were many hits and just a few misses, Chin Chin has a strong and well-designed branding that extends across all parts of their business, it’s a trendy venue with music, arts and Asian food fusion blended into one, though not your place for a romantic, quiet candle lit supper.
For details and bookings, check out their site below:
Chin Chin Sydney
69 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Phone: (02) 9281 3322