There is a well-known saying that the three main prerequisites for a successful retail business are location, location, and location. When it comes to restaurants, though — which are, after all, retail businesses — I think that location comes well down the list of what people look for.
A restaurant with the welcome of a forensic pathologist’s dissecting room and staff with the charm of mass gravediggers is unlikely to be overflowing with happy, eager customers, regardless of how good the food is. Atmosphere is top of my list, and if you want atmosphere, Chinta has an abundance of it.
The business recently moved to North Perth having outgrown its original premises in Doubleview and is now housed in a converted petrol-station- cum-garage. The space is interesting in itself but the decor is particularly pleasant and reflects owner Robyn Smith’s long association with Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries in South-East Asia. It’s eclectic — the seats are all different, for example, — but it has a certain cohesion, and brightly covered parasols over each table give a tropical Bali beach feel.
The food also has a certain eclecticism. After all, the head chef is from Hong Kong, another chef is from Italy, and the sous chef is Korean. Our waiter, who I’m certain has never dug a grave in his life, was delightfully French.
The Beloved was well satisfied with her starter of crispy calamari with citrus dip ($15) — piping hot with the batter crackling in the mouth and the flesh succulent and tender.
I thought long and hard about the curry (aran)ciniballs ($15) fearful that they may have been made with a commercial curry powder. I need not have worried as the curry comprised a significant quantity of fresh coriander and lemon. Risotto emince of beef Zurichoise ($26), moist without being sloppy, showed considerable lack of restraint with the meat and mushrooms. I’m not sure why anyone would want to cook anything from Zurich, which is not known for the international significance of its cuisine.
The duck confit ($34) came with duck fat potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and seaweed and sported a skin as crisp as parchment and pull-apart tender meat.
I thought the seaweed a bit twee, and there was too little of it to add anything. Again, the number of mushrooms was overwhelming. A side of asparagus with an excellent lemony hollandaise was well worth the $9.
Black sticky rice with coconut and tropical fruit ($10) continued the pop-up Asian theme but the spiced apple pie ($10), while good value, had been heated in the microwave. While atmosphere counts for a lot, I’m not a big fan of soggy pastry.
Address 29 Scarborough Beach Road, North Perth
Phone 9242 8887
Open Saturday – Wednesday 7am–4pm, Thursday – Friday 7am–8.30pm
The buzz The setting and the decor make for a terrific ambience. The food is generally competent, although some dishes require a little bit more finesse and perhaps a bit more thought.