So if I got a free meal each time someone described the restaurant as 'the next Chin Chin', I would have had at least 5 free meals, and one of them would have been at Rice, Paper, Scissors.
Now, to be honest, I think the only feature of Chin Chin worth imitating is its cash flow. It is the epitome of the 'popular because its popular' circular logic of the Melbourne dining scene. So I am not going to compare RPS to it. What I am going to do is describe to you a nice, well priced, meal.
I went to RPS on a Tuesday night at 8pm and only just managed to snag two spots on a shared table. RPS serves tapas style dishes that draw their inspiration from all over Asia, but primarily from Thailand and Vietnam. Prices per dish vary, but cap out at about $18 for a large 'meal for one' salad. However, for $55 you can get a spread of any 5 of their tapas dishes.
The old school chum I was dining with thought that was the way to go, and I tended to agree. We ordered the Lamb Ribs in Mekong Whisky, Thai Fried Chicken with Siracha Mayo, Grilled Pork Neck, Masaman Beef Wrap and the 'Flying Tiger' Beef. We were both a bit worried about portion sizes prior to the meal arriving, but were very pleasantly surprised.
The lamb ribs (pictured above) were super soft and rendered to sticky perfection in a rich, sweet, whisky sauce. I would say they approach being the RPS signature dish and should feature on your table when ordering.
The Thai Fried Chicken was also great. The batter was as crispy as it was spicy and made for a crunchy fiery hit. The siracha mayo also hit he spot and I used it to add some extra kick to the next dish, the masaman beef wrap.
The wrap was the only real disappointment out of the 5. It wasn't bad, it was just quite blad. Ground beef, flat bread and salad, nothing much more to say - I wouldn't get it again.
Next up was the grilled pork neck. It was basically char siew pork with a Vietnamese twist. However, it was super chary on the outside, really moist in the center and spiced to perfection. The salad that it came with was also a nice twist.
The final arrival was the 'Flying Tiger' beef. It was steak that had been soaked in a spice and alcohol mixture and then grilled till it had a chard crust (but was still medium rare on the inside). It was served with a super hot dipping sauce and what were described as 'betel leaves' to wrap the meat in for dipping. They didn't look like betel leaves to me, neither did they taste like them, reminding me more of the bitter greens at Attica. However, the dish without the leaves was an excellent way to finish off.
I didn't make it to their extensive dessert menu, however I'm definitely going to head back for another round. Good work RPS, you lived up to the hype, and were better than Chin Chin to boot.