Chop Chop Chang’s is a slick, modern Asian restaurant that takes ideas from across the region – Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese… The menu is slightly overwhelming. You’re meant to work your way through the menu from left to right. But if it’s all too much for you, there’s the market feed at $54 which ensures you get a bit of everything.
The venue is much nicer than other Asian establishments around West End. The decor is slightly industrial with the exposed ceiling, metal framework, large industrial lamps and painted metal stools which makes the whole space seem a lot more low-key and casual yet clean. The seating is low, perfect for reaching across when sharing food (and taking photos). The bar is well-lit so you can eye off their impressive shelves of Asian beer, cider and spirits.
We opted to share all the menu options and started off with the corn and coriander cakes. Soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Loads of flavour from the coriander and the tangy, sweet chilli sauce makes this classic combination a winner.
The chicken kaarage was meant to be a garlic and ginger version which I would’ve never been able to tell the difference. I suspect that it was seasoned with garlic and ginger powder as there was an unusual powdery texture to the batter. The chicken itself was tender and moist without being greasy. Joy! The lettuce wedge was tackled with our hands – the only time chopsticks (the superior eating utensil) was useless in my hands. Seriously though, I’d be just as okay without the lettuce and more chicken kaarage. Generous ratio of karashi (a type of Japanese mustard) mayo to chicken was pleasing. Something that other places always skimp out on!
The rare seared beef tataki with daikon, bonito flakes and ponzu was acidic and fresh. The daikon and the beef absorbed the citrusy ponzu sauce like nothing else. A very pretty, elegant dish. The contrasting textures from the papery bonito flakes, succulent beef and crunchy daikon was a fun combination that I also really enjoyed.
There was confusion how the “Wok Tossed Prawns” could have a vegetarian option. Our waitress explained that it was essentially a pad thai with firm tofu as the vegetarian substitute. Presented some fumbling when it came out – “these are the wok tossed prawns, umm vegetarian prawns”. It was pretty good – decent charring of the noodles, fresh bean sprouts isn’t a combination that is hard to mess up. Although for $20 you could visit any of the nearby Asian restaurants in West End and receive a larger portion for much less.
The caramelised pork with tamarind, star anise and cassia bark with fried vermicelli, herbs, nahm jim was very heavy on the spices. And not quite sweet enough for my liking. The fresh herbs helped balance out the overpowering spices though. I also found the pork didn’t quite have that gelatinous melt-in-your-mouth feel either. Still, it was a hearty and generous dish with the rice to tone down the heaviness of the dish.
Both the desserts were great! The chocolate fondant takes a little while to make so be prepared to wait. That being said, even after apologies that the first one didn’t rise, it wasn’t long before the replacement came out. The cherry and whisky combo was great. The chocolate was dark and bittersweet. A wonderful, rich dessert, especially now during the cold season! The kick of whisky will keep you warm!
However, the tokyo pandan smash was my favourite dessert by far. I love finishing on a dessert that doesn’t make me feel bloated. The pandan meringue was subtle in flavour and perfect in texture. The yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) curd with the pomegranate provided acidity which was insanely good with the icey, almost granita-like yoghurt ice cream. Tart and fruity. Stupidly delicious.
It’d be a great place to start the night off before a bit of bar hopping around West End.
Dining details: Thursday night dinner for 3 people, 7pm
The verdict: Wonderful options for sharing with different sizes to suit all sorts of appetites and budgets. I’d suggest sticking with the small to medium share plates, skipping the more substantial plates, and saving space for dessert. Great for low-key dining from the solo diner (you can sit in a dark corner so you can people watch!) to large groups.
This restaurant wins the award for: delicious modern Asian food on the south side.
Check out the menu here. And drinks in the image below.
Chop Chop Chang’s
Open 7 days a week
Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm
Dinner: 5.30pm – late
185 Boundary Street, West End