Ah, the booming western suburbs. A few weeks ago I reviewed new Korean restaurant, La Grilla, in the bustling suburb of Canley Heights. Adding to the list of modern restaurants is recently opened Chi Chi, a modern Asian kitchen and bar.
Bar area opposite the dining area
You step into the restaurant and you don't feel like you're in little Asia no more. White and wooden tables contrasting each other, rustic brick walls, quirky artwork feature wall - something you would find in Surry Hills. They have a selection of signature cocktails and wines on offer, but for today I opted for a sugary mocktail.
Chi Chi's Mocktails - Placebo $9
[L to R]: Cloudy Apple Juice ($4?), Placebo mocktail $9, Hello Chi Chi mocktail $9
The oddly named Placebo mocktail is a concoction of orange, cloudy apple and pineapple juice shaken with vanilla syrup, layered with grenadine and garnished with a lychee (canned). The Hello Chi Chi was muddled strawberries and lychees shaken with apple juice and cranberry juice. A chopstick was used as a stirrer which I found quite cute and fitting to the Asian theme, however it was constantly mistaken for the straw :< .
I ordered the Placebo and it was an absolute summer delight! Reminiscent of cocktails by the pool or beach. It wasn't too sweet and sickening and went well with the oncoming savoury dishes.
The Hello Chi Chi was a burst of strawberry and lychee flavours, however, the Placebo was the clear winner of the two.
Smoked Trout, Galangal, Roasted Chilli & Fried Shallots on Betel Leaf $3.90 each
Wrap the leaves and devoure it in one bite to savour all the different flavours. The trout was great in flavour, however the roasted chilli seemed more like a sweet chilli sauce to me and lacked any heat. The fried shallots gave it a nice crunch with the leaf balancing all the textures together. However, $3.90 for one serving seems a bit steep, and it is definitely not WOW enough for that price.
Braised Duck w Orange and Tamarind Sauce $23.90
We were served the duck main before our other dishes. The meat was dry, not tender and not falling-off-the-bone as should be with braised meat, however the sauce picked up this dish. The dish was on the salty side, so it was lucky we ordered the side of rice. The tangy tamarind and sweetness of the orange complimented each other real well, making the sauce lip licking good.
Chichi's Braised Pork Belly w Green Papaya Salad & Fried Shallots $18.20
Very disappointed with this dish unfortunately. The pork belly was hard, chewy and dry and there was more mint leaves and coriander than papaya. If there was more SALAD to actually go with the pork then it would of made it that much better.
Fried Eggplant Sandwich of Prawns & Pork w Ginger & Shallot Soy Sauce $12.80
This was the highlight dish and one to return for. Lightly fried and crispy eggplant contrasting with the mushy pork and prawn filling giving it an aray of textures. The ginger also gave it a much needed kick to the soy dressing.
Crème Caramel $8.90
I've never ordered crème caramel in a restaurant before, as I find it to be something of a "home" dessert. But after ravings of the delicious home-made crème caramel, I was eager to see what the fuss was about. And sometimes, fuss does you no wrong. The crème caramel was ah-mazing. The custard was beautifully smooth and silky, and melted in your mouth. The caramel was a great consistency and not too sweet and was just the ying to the custard-yang. Definitely a dessert to remember.
It's great to see the expansion of the love for food in the area, and I will always support my local restaurants. Chi Chi had some hits and misses, but there are still many things on the menu I'm eager to try. We also had a birthday cake, and they informed us there would be a $2 per person surcharge. If I haven't said so before, I'll say it again - I absolutely HATE restaurants who surcharge cake cutting. It's a birthday for crying out loud, and we have already spent money at your restaurant, tagged ourselves to say we were there, and instagram all the photos of your food (basically free promotion/word-of-mouth through social media). For the price of food, the service could be a bit better. We weren't served table water, or even asked, and the waiters were busy chatting and didn't notice us hailing them until a longer-than-patient period after. However, after all that's been said I would return some other time and experience the rest of the menu and the signature cocktails.