The minute I saw Chinta Ria on my way out of I'm Angus, I knew I wanted to come here for Valentine's Day. The allure of something exotic and mysterious, as the restaurant appeared that night, drew me for a visit when Stephen and I went to the State Theatre to see Mulan (isn't the State Theatre the BEST?). Seeing the restaurant in daylight gave it a more approachable air, until we tried to enter - apparently they close after lunch, and open again for dinner at 6pm.
When the doors were opened, we were shown into the restaurant. Beside the doorway was a beautiful flower display, and incense filled the air. Sitting in the middle of the restaurant is a giant stone statue of a smiling Buddha, and there are colourful banners behind it. There was peaceful meditation music playing all throughout the restaurant. We were shown outside, and given menus and table water.
Service was friendly and brisk, and it wasn't long before we had our entrees in front of us:
These spring rolls came out piping hot within 3 minutes of our ordering them, and they were amazingly fresh. The spring roll paper had a nice crisp to it, and had no residual oil that I could detect. The vegetables inside, amongst them carrot and onion, were also wonderfully crisp, and were full of flavour - normally my experience of spring rolls is that the oil seeps in and ruins the taste of the vegetables.
The texture of these wanton skins were denser than the spring rolls, but still had a satisfying crunch, and the filling consisted of flavoursome chicken, water chestnuts that supplied some great contrast in texture, some sort of mushroom and onion.
This dish was on the 'Signature Dish' menu, and the combination of tender, diced chicken, onion, lemongrass, turmeric, chili and lime worked really well together. It was too hot for Stephen, and after a while all he could taste was chili, but the meat was pull-apart soft, and I could taste a lot of lemongrass under the chili.
In contrast, my dish was very sweet. The chicken, again very tender, was lightly battered and deep fried. The sauce was made up of plum and lemon, and was sweet with a bit of a tang. Sitting on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with corriander, this dish was delightfully simple.
The food here is beautifully simple and delicious, well executed and the service is very fast, but friendly enough that you don't feel like you're being kicked out. However, the priced are pretty steep for a restaurant that is supposed to be selling 'Hawker-style Malaysian' food. Obviously you're paying for location as well, which is right at the top of Cockle-Bay Wharf. Still, I would come here again!
What are you doing for Valentine's? If weather permits, Stephen and I will be walking Mt. Kiera! :)
Roof Terrace of Cockle Bay Wharf
201 Sussex St,
Phone: 9264 3211