Cultural Spotlight: Chin’s or Should I say “Chef Chin” (Kearny Mesa)
Chin’s is a Chinese restaurant in San Diego you may have heard of. Compared to other Chinese restaurants, it is quite “fancy” in decoration and pricing. I heard that the Chin’s restaurants are owned by one family, and throughout the years they have separated into two ownerships. You may have noticed the Chin’s on Convoy became “Chef Chin”.
The original Chin’s on Convoy advertised itself as “Szechuan”. There are regional cuisines in China. Szechuan is one of the popular cuisines among other regions, and there are actually a few Szechuan restaurants on Convoy: De De’s, Spicy City and Spicy House. Szechuan cuisine is particularly famous for its hot, spicy dishes, especially the taste of Mala (麻辣, numbness your palate feel because of the spices).
Anyhow, I’ve always thought that Chef Chin’s menu was more on the “Shanghai” side. I went to their website to check out the menu and found out they actually have different ones. The English one is more on tailored to the American/Szechuan style, and the Chinese one is more comprehensive and “authentic”. If you would like to try various Chinese dishes, next time when you visit, maybe pick a few from the Chinese menu (don’t worry, they have English translation for each dish).
We didn’t know about that, so I’m going to talk about Shanghainese cuisine.
We came here during the afternoon, as we heard that they have a lunch menu. I love Pot stickers, and I haven’t had them for a while. Comparing to what I had in China, these pot stickers were not bad, but I wish their dumpling skin could be skinnier. Usually pot stickers are normal dumplings and pan fried; really good pot stickers are those which are crispy at the outside, and tender and moist in the inside with tasty fillings.
XLB(Xiao Long Bao) is a famous item of the Shanghainese cuisine. It is a steamed dumplings that are filled with soup inside. The skills of making a XLB is exquisite, for example the way you make the dumpling skins, the way you fold it, and the steaming. The XLB skin has to be quite skinny that become transparent, but could still hold the soup without leakage when steaming. Chinese eat them with a dip in vinegar and a little ginger.
This is what happened when you bite down. Be careful not to let the wonderful soup seeps away. XLB at Chin’s are good, but only if there’s were more rich flavor of the chicken soup inside it would be nicer.
Other great dishes I love having at Chin’s is their cold dishes, we usually order the Three Assorted Cold Dish. We picked Smoked Fish, Wine Marinated Chicken (aka Drunken Chicken) and cucumber. You gotta try the Smoked Fish, if you’ve never had it. It’s another classic from Shanghai. The fish is first marinated in soy sauce, alcohol, and water, then deep fried in oil, and immediately soak in sauce make of sugar, soy sauce and five-spice powder. Although it is called the Smoked Fish, the flavor also has a hint of sweetness. You do have to watch out for some fish bones, but the dish is worth trying. The drunken chicken and cucumber are also fine too. Personally, I really like the cucumber at DeDe’s, they captured the refreshing cucumber flavor well with a cooling effect in your palate.
We had many dishes that day, but these are the ones that I would highlight for that particular lunch. Feel free to explore more on their “Chinese Authentic” menu, and let me know what you think!
Chef Chin (formerly Chin’s Szechuan)
4433 Convoy St,
San Diego, CA 92111