If you haven't heard of Chin Chin, from The Chris Lucas Group, then you might have been living under a rock. Their success has created the phrase 'the Chris Lucas effect', and it has people lining up out the doors each day for hours on end. Does it live up to the hype? When it comes down to it, it actually does. The jazzed-up Thai cuisine, pumping atmosphere and killer decor give these guys the name they deserve.
Be warned, you have to be ready to wait. No matter when you come, you're looking at around a two-hour wait. Luckily, GoGo Bar downstairs acts as a holding room, providing liquids to tide you over.
Once you finally get the call to shift upstairs, the choices get difficult. The menu is extensive, and choosing only a handful of dishes is hard. The staff are great at suggesting the right way to order and are on hand to highlight their favourite dishes, but, at the end of the day, it's all pretty spot on.
They'll tell you to pick a few from column A and a few from column B. Start with the coriander fritters served with lettuce cups and chilli jam ($16) or crunchy school prawns and fried rice ($14). From there head to the 'green stuff' and try the crispy barramundi and green apple salad with caramelised pork, peanuts chilli and lemongrass ($27). The crispy salty fish sits perfectly alongside the sweet sticky pork. When it comes to the bigger dishes, try the hot green curry of chicken, salted duck eggs and Thai basil ($25) or the salt and pepper kingfish wings with Asian herb salad and nuoc cham ($26).
If, after all that, you're in the mood to really tip yourself over the edge, the grilled banana filled roti bread with sweetened coconut cream and sesame seeds ($13) is decadent and sweet. Speaking of indulging, one way to really experience Chin Chin is the 'Feed Me' menu — $66 dollars will ensure you are rolled out of there when you're done.
A beautiful wine list, a stunning bar and knowledgeable staff make sure the experience is a good one. Go, wait in the line — it's all an experience in itself. At the end of the day, the worst that will happen is you'll find yourself in Go Go Bar.
Images: Josie Withers/Visit Victoria.