I can’t remember exactly when Chef Chin opened but my first visit was with Cathy of mmm-yoso some time early last year. I’ve been back a few times and we recently decided to have lunch, dine-in rather than my usual take-out.
The inside of the restaurant is pretty clean and dimly light, not really good for picture taking.
I’ve only been seated on the same side of the restaurant each time, the side that has the least amount of light. But I do get a view of this (which happens to be the way to the restrooms, too).
The owner of this Chef Chin also owns restaurants in Hawaii. There are several aerial shots of the Aloha Tower area on the wall (not pictured).
On this visit, I decided to try a dish from their “dim sum” menu. BTW, I thought better than to take pictures of the menus because there are actually 2 menus, a general menu and a Chinese menu. Way too many things to take pictures of but you can see the full menu on their website. The waiter call it a “dim sum” menu, but after looking at it, it’s really a mixture of dim sum dishes and breakfast items (e.g., soy milk, scallion pancakes). I decided to try the Shanghai dumplings, which I guessed was their xiao long bao. The Mister made a face when I ordered it because he doesn’t like to order anything that I can make at home. I told him I don’t make XLB at home but he said it doesn’t matter, a dumpling is a dumpling. Well, his reaction foretold what lied ahead.
I was surprised at how many XLB came in the steamer. They looked, well, not so fresh and tasted even less. There was a funky sour taste to it and we could barely swallow a single mouthful. At first I thought maybe they put some kind of vinegar in or whatever but after examination of the filling, I don’t know, it just didn’t seem right.
I forgot to mention that we also got soup with our meal. Today was Egg Flower Soup. Nothing too exciting but not bad.
I was in the mood for some spare ribs but I should know better than to order spare ribs out. Again, the Mister asked why I order dishes that I can make at home (here, here and here)? Yeah, well, since it’s been a while since we last dined in, I had forgotten I had previously tried their Wu Xin spareribs and remembered that it wasn’t very good.
I think they boil the ribs first because the meat was mushy. The sauce tasted okay but it’s that typical gloppy brown sauce often served in ABCDE places. The spinach was blanched and happened to be the best part of this dish.
The remaining dishes, thankfully, were pretty good. Here is the Hot Braised Sting Bean with Ground Pork (Chinese menu). We’ve had this several times before and one of the Mister’s favorite.
The next dish was the Tangerine Crispy Chicken (General “American” menu). I actually ordered the Tangerine Beef but we got chicken instead. The Mister likes this better than the beef version so it was a good mistake. The coating was crispy without being too thick. The sauce had a nice slight tang and wasn’t overly sweet.
I like the carrot flower that came with the dish.
The last dish was also a new dish, Shrimp with Honey Walnut (Chinese menu). This was really good. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, slightly crispy with a mild sweetness to the sauce.
Again, I liked the decoration that came with this dish. I think it was a rose made from a died radish.
Overall, Chef Chin has a few dishes for return visits for us. Their mu shu pork is standard but not bad since it has a lot of pork (General menu), the Sliced Pork with Spicy Garlic Sauce is good when it’s on (Chinese menu), the Fish Fillet in Spicy Bean Sauce (Chinese menu) has been decent most of the times. My MIL tried their Kung Pao Chicken and said it was not to her taste, not that I would ever order KPC (yuck). She said it had no flavor except heat. There are often 20% or 30% coupons to be found in local flyers so that makes it even nicer. The prices are a little high compared to other local Chinese restaurants but the coupons certainly helps.
11828 Rancho Bernardo Rd.
San Diego, CA 92128