The journey took three long years and countless air miles, but the Sydney offshoot of Melbourne restaurant powerhouse Chin Chin is opening its northern outpost Monday, October 2.
"I must have looked at 50 or 60 sites before I found this one," owner Chris Lucas says. And the wait was worth it, the triangular Griffiths Teas Building in Surry Hills is the perfect geometry for a wrap-around venue that segues from restaurant to bar with booths and private dining. So for fans of the original, is Sydney a facsimile?
"We've brought some of the signatures, but about a third of the menu is new from the ground up," Lucas says. "Sydney's warmer and more humid, so we've increased the number of salads, vegetable and seafood dishes."
The restaurateur has also heard feedback from its soft run sessions last week that the food at the younger sibling might be better than Melbourne. There's certainly more kitchen kit in Sydney to bolster the theory.
"We have the charcoal pit here to finish things like the meat we put into dishes like the curries, which gives it a little more smokiness."
Duck livers are crisped up then tossed in a salad. Despite the luxe interior, if the food prices look refreshingly un-Sydney, Lucas says Chin Chin is sticking to a formula of "accessibility". He diplomatically sidesteps the welcome to Sydney question of how much the restaurant cost to build. And he is already skilled in praising Chin Chin's adopted city: "The fresh Asian herbs up here are much better than we get in Melbourne, and more varieties." Chin Chin can stay.
69 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills 02 9281 3322