There’s a new restaurant on the block at the acclaimed 225 Grovesnor Place location – introducing Chi Chi, a pan-Asian restaurant bar that’s open for breakfast before transforming into a swanky bar and restaurant for a relaxed lunch or dinner infused with everything from Kingfish to decadent chocolate cake. The brainchild of Hospitality Mogul, George Nahas of Bellucci Cucina, Fortuna, and the recently opened Gypsy Lobby Espresso Bar in Parramatta, we had to check out the soon-to-be Friday night hotspot to see what all the buzz is all about.
Chi Chi Dining Banquet Menu
Highlights: King Fish, DIY Pork Belly Bao, King Prawn, Chocolate Cake.
What we drank: Negroni, Sweet and Sour.
While I’m known amongst my friends as a bit of a ‘human map’ I did find the restaurant a bit challenging to find and I worry about the amount of foot traffic Chi Chi will encounter with many office workers choosing to work from home on Fridays. Follow the signs and you’ll have better luck, but if all else fails, walk into 225 Grovsner Place and find your way to the back right-hand corner of the lobby.
The restaurant itself is well lit, with white table cloths, comfortable booth seating and pleasant mood lighting on the table. Designed under the creative direction of Damien Mulvihill of the award-winning DesignOffice, it’s a great place to park yourself for an evening filled with delicious cocktails and top-shelf whisky and wine.
Speaking of drinks, we started off with a Mr G Negroni (Roku Gin, Choya Golden Umeshu, and Campari) that was simply outstanding, it even came with a little orange perfume-like spray that worked to add some intense orange flavours to the drink. The Sweet and Sour cocktail was also a highlight with its combination of Mango-infused pisco, Yuzu and Lemon Juice with Aquafaba and bitters. What stood out was the Japanese-dominated whisky menu that was surprisingly affordable – Hibiki Harmony is $18, which has to be one of the lowest prices we’ve seen in Sydney, well done Chi Chi!
Before long it was time for the main courses to arrive, starting with Chef Nahas’s take on a classic King Fish Crudo. And what an impression it made, with mandarin oil that cut through with black pepper it’s a true impression maker. A sign of things to come we hoped and the side of curly fries and seaweed salt (for review purposes, obviously) easily received our stamp of approval.
The chicken salad with lemongrass and tamarind presents as maybe the most ‘ Instagram-worthy’ dish on the menu (featured above), but we found it a little out of place overall if not a little too similar to that famous lemongrass salad from that chicken shop called Charlie. I believe leaning on the crab element would do it more justice, but it’s a delicious course nonetheless and is sure to be a crowd favourite at lunchtime.
You’ll find the menu taking inspiration from Chef Nahas’s travels, blending fusion flavours with shared-style dishes. The Wagyu Skewer with onion butter and tare (native to Western Asia) is maybe the best example and offers a delicious sauce that we simply couldn’t get enough of. The King Prawn dish is almost an exact replica, however, no complaints are to be had as the prawns are cooked in sambal butter and Belacan (a staple of Malaysian cookery) to create a flavour explosion that’s put straight to memory – get this dish!
The kitchen is headed by Bremmy Setiyoko (ex Rockpool Dining Group – Spice Temple & Sepia) and we have to give him praise here, the DIY Pork Belly Bao’s are some of the best we’ve had in Sydney. While the idea of ‘DIY’ at a restaurant is a little left of field for us, the process is fun and the satisfaction that comes in eating your creation (that’s really Bremmy’s creation) is next-level. This was our absolute must-have meal and we’d eat 8 of these for lunch, seriously.
Autumn Greens with shio konbu, bok choy, and garlic were refreshing before dinner, however, the Tumeric Curry was one that we’d swap out for another round of bao buns.
So where does that leave Chi Chi? We sat there sharing the chocolate cake with creme fraiche and miso contemplating our existence after a serious pan-Asian feast. The restaurant has some real highs in the cocktail offering, whisky, and wine. And overall, the food menu is one that’s at it’s most expressive with the King Fish, Bao, and Prawns. Is Chi Chi a viable contender for a Friday night dinner and drinks? Date night perhaps? Absolutely, if pan-Asian isn’t something you’ve explored before Chi Chi is a must-add to your list.
Chi Chi Dining
Address: Shop 3/225 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Mon-Tues 7am-5am, Wed 7am-9:30pm, Thurs-Fri 7am-11pm
Phone: (02) 9251 0137