Chin Chin [Melbourne]
Regularly cited as one of the hottest Melbourne openings of 2011 in end of year reviews by the Smage etc, I was looking for a Saturday lunchtime spot between christmas and new year for visiting friends. It's one of Melbourne's no bookings restaurants but absolutely no problem getting in at 12pm. Apparently busy evening can result in waits of several hours.
It knows it's trendy. Front of house staff are very professional and it's not up itself in the way that many Smith Street places can be, and Coda is. So trendy but accessible.
Wine list impressive and some good pricing on local wines. Nice selection of spice friendly aromatics, plenty of beers and an interesting cocktail list. Food is modern Asian covering a lot of styles, but with an emphasis on probably lighter styles of food. As we were with guests, we went middle of the road on heat - an excellent pumpkin curry was quite traditional, mother in law eggs nicely done in a generous serve, excellent slow roasted pork with vinegar, good bang bang chicken. If I went back I'd probably up the heat a bit.
Looking at the menu and concept, there seem to be a few places in the CBD doing this model - Coda springs to mind, as does Red Spice Road. Chin Chin does it better, and its on my list for posh Asian if I am in the CBD. And it opens all day.