Chop Chop Chang, West End

A chimp in a spacesuit is a quirky namesake for an Asian restaurant that specialises in street food but it’s probably a good fit with the eclectic atmosphere of Brisbane’s funkiest suburb, West End.

Chop Chop Chang opened mid-2013 in busy Boundary Street in a building which originally housed a bank but more recently was the Music Kafe.

The website calls their menu pan-Asian with influences from honest street food found in temples and hawker markets throughout Asia. My partner calls is Fasian (fusion Asian) and yes, you heard or read it here first folks.

Basically they have pulled together a menu of some of the yummiest simple Asian fare that includes something for just about everyone. Think caramelised chilli lime cashews, green papaya salad, twice cooked sticky beef ribs and karaage chicken. It’s a collection designed by Paul Blain (ex Noosa Chilli Jam Café and Spicers Tamarind at Maleny) who is well known for his Asian cred.

In keeping with the street food theme, the décor is basic with long share trestle tables, stools and printed menu placemats. It’s a noisy environment inside with plenty of larger groups and not much to soak up the sound. It may be quieter outside at the tables for two on Boundary Street where you would also be entertained by the passing parade that makes up West End.

The menu offers lots of choice and as first timers we decided on a banquet menu at $35 per person, as a simple option.  This included prawn and corn cakes with sweet pickled cucumber, larb isaan with ground pork, pak chilli farang hot mint, dried chilli and lime; wok wilted morning glory stir fried with chilli, garlic and yellow bean, chang mai chicken curry and crispy roast pork in an aromatic master stock.  It all came with rice and was a very big meal.

While I heartily enjoyed the rich chicken curry and pork soup bowl, but I was a little underwhelmed by the prawn and corn cakes. I suspect they were a bit overcooked on the night.  The larb isaan came with cabbage leaves to roll it up in and cut the heat, which was definitely needed.  The wilted morning glory, which came at the same time, was another extremely hot dish and together I think this was too much heat for a banquet that should be aimed at average taste buds.

The real surprise here is the desserts.  We shared coconut panna cotta with pineapple and a passionfruit syrup; chocolate cardamom mousse with mandarin syrup and cashew praline; and coconut ice cream and sago with japery popcorn crunch.  I would return to eat any of these in a flash.

Finish the night with a traditional Vietnamese coffee which comes to brew at the table, accompanied by sweet condensed milk. It’s not hard to acquire a taste for this.

And the name?  Check out the large chimp image on the wall and you’ll see Chop Chop Chang who was the first chimpanzee sent into space in 1961.

Open every day for lunch and dinner.

Chop Chop Chang,
185 Boundary Street, West End.

Best tip: Parking is hard to find in West End.  Allow extra time to seek out a street park.
Bottom line: Expect to pay between $12 and $24 per dish.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer:  Ed+bK paid for this meal but the desserts were complimentary from Chop Chop Chang.

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