|Inside Chinta Ria... Mood for Love, Level 6, Westfield Sydney|
|Chinta Ria... Mood for Love entrance|
The moody ambience is set by the varied seating arrangements that see couples hidden in corners and groups behind ornate carved screens, while the eclectic selection of music tinkling in the background behind the noise of chatter plays accompaniment to the projections of period movie scenes onto a wall.
|Candied spiced peanuts|
The movie inspiration runs deep: from their very own short movie which is projected on the screen nightly to the menu formatted as a film screenplay – there is no shortage of theatrics from Goh.
As we peruse the scenes of the screenplay (with handwritten notes and edits throughout), we’re started on the best peanuts I’ve ever had. Candied but faintly spiced with chilli and kaffir lime leaf, these eye-opening peanuts set the mood right for the rest of the night.
|The 'Nipple Bar'|
I would have loved to have been the person responsible for naming some parts of the menu, turning drinks and Malaysian food names into sometimes salacious labels that are as much fun to read as to consume (Hug Me Honey beef or Kiss Me Chick, anyone?).
|Touch Lips cocktail|
|Sexy Genie cocktail|
It’s also on the lighter side of cocktails, which is probably an intentional leaning to best match the big and varied flavours of southeast Asian cuisine.
|Satay beef (back) and chicken (front)|
The first few dishes arrive together but I turn my attention first to the satay chicken and beef sticks. One of each per diner, these are served with a creamy, nutty sauce that’s poured from a jug. The beef is meltingly tender while the chicken is fatty in a good and necessary way for grilling.
Steamed in banana leaf in an adorably miniscule bamboo steamer basket, the vibrantly curried mousse of Spanish mackerel was light yet bouncily firm and just exploded on the palate with fresh flavours of fish, a myriad of fragrant spices and a good chilli kick. The stuff of dreams, the otak otak alone is reason for return visits.
|Chai tow koay|
|Come Always cocktail|
The Come Always cocktail has an Italian bent, with Campari mixed with Angostura Bitters, tonic water and lemonade – again, a light drink to refresh the palate.
|Kiss Kiss cocktail|
|Pearly butter prawns|
|Squeeze Me Squiddy|
With strong Cantonese flavours to the sauce, the fungi were upped a notch with the addition of deep fried enoki mushrooms as a delicious and clever garnish.
|Sensual Dessert Platter|
So the thought of a dessert platter to end the night was just a tad frightening, though I was more assured when it arrived sans chocolate, cream, cake and other rich, filling sweets. The dessert tasting plate features four items from Scene 5: Are You In… Sweet Heart???
|On Me On Me All Day|
|Kueh Rolled Me Green (front) and durian panna cotta (back, in glass)|
A sniff of the panna cotta reveals only a subtle aroma of the stinky, hard-to-like tropical Asian fruit durian, so I tentatively took a small spoon to taste. And it’s not so bad. Indeed, the durian flavour is almost an afterthought – it’s there but not quite at the fore, which makes it much easier for me to consume without ill feeling.
With the final scrape clean of the glass, I felt more in the mood for unbuttoning than love, but having completely forgetten that I was in a shopping centre. With the closed wooden doors, I felt like I was in some hidden den with other equally secretive couples and groups.
The intimate settings trumped the sometimes high noise levels, but it never got uncomfortable. If anything, we were a little too comfortable with the Sensual Delight Menu and cocktails. It was extremely satisfying, leaving me wanting more for next time – which there certainly will be – I can’t wait for the next time I’m in the mood for love.
Food, booze and shoes dined courtesy of Chinta Ria… Mood For Love – thanks for a beautiful evening, Simon.