Vanessa Ortynsky discovers Chi Kitchen.
PHOTOGRAPHY CHARLIE JACKSON
Victoria Street is something of a go-to area for an evening out, with bars and restaurants lining almost the entirety of its length. There are a handful of venerable places that have survived the transformation from a business district to an evening hotspot precinct.
Chi Kitchen is located upstairs, on the second floor of The Christchurch Casino, which has stood at the southern end of Victoria Street for more than 20 years. Chi Kitchen presents diners with an authentic Cantonese menu and dishes inspired by the streets of Guangzhou. The décor is gently lit with red accents; departing from the large bright casino atrium with a quieter, more intimate setting.
We are warmly greeted by several staff members and promptly seated. Before long, we have drinks in hand and are perusing the menu full of enticing mains and entrées. Jing Jin, the restaurant’s manager, directs our attention to the flat-screen TV above the bar, on which we have a live feed of the wok in the restaurant’s kitchen. The wok is a key feature for several of the menu’s dishes and we are keen to see it in action. From watching our dumplings, and stir-fry mains being skilfully prepared, it’s clear that Chi Kitchen takes delight in the hospitality efforts of its staff.
The attentive service is rarely found outside of an upscale hotel and is refreshing in such a relaxed location. The food is tasty and flavourful to the point at which you need to take care not to overindulge and crowd out dessert. We were treated to a number of bite-sized cakes and sweet delights while we sipped tea still mesmerised by the wok on the big screen.
While Chi Kitchen now faces some competition from the numerous establishments popping up on this side of town, they are well up to the task, offering delicious food and unparalleled service.
Chi Kitchen • The Christchurch Casino, 30 Victoria Street
03 357 2442 • Wednesdays-Fridays 5.30pm until late