As I noted previously, we managed to drop by the new Chin's this past weekend for a quick bite. Lucky for me, FOY Candice managed to get word out to me, because just looking at the place, I really couldn't tell they were open.
We arrived at just about 11am, and the place was empty except for one table. I thought the interior was pretty nice, just hitting the edge of tasteful Chinese restaurant decor. The dining area is small, but the tables are spread out pretty well. There is a bar area, with plasma televisions as well.
A very cheerful, and undoubtedly proud young lady sat us, and handed us the menus.... which looked like a combination of the typical ABCDE Chin's menu, along with items on the Miramar Chin's menu. This was interesting since I know there's something going on between the two Chin's. On our last couple of visits to the Miramar location, the folks there seemed to distance themselves from this location, saying they have nothing in common with this Chin's, other than the name...... We were a bit disappointed since after reading the coming soon banners, I had been under the impression that this place would be serving "Chinese breakfast" much like the Miramar Chin's. The young lady informed us that such a menu is in the works, and will be implemented after things in the kitchen gets straightened out, in about a month. Of course, knowing how long it took this place to open, that may be two, or perhaps three months.
We really had wanted maybe a few small dishes, so we stayed the course and ordered just a couple of items. For some reason, the Missus wanted Zha Jiang Mian, which is not my favorite dish in the world. What's even more funny, is that several Korean friends and acquaintances of mine, don't even know that Zha Jiang Mian, or as they know it Ja Jang Myeon is Chinese in origin. I've even been called a liar to my face! Such has this noodle dish been culturally etched in their society.
This version was different from any I've had before. First off was the soy beans, something which I've never experienced. Second, the "meat sauce" lacked the strong savory presence of bean paste. It also wasn't as salty, or greasy as many version I've had were. This was fairly bland, the noodles were decently prepared, the boiled egg was inhaled by the Missus, who dismissed this as "terribly bland".
We also ordered the Five Spiced Beef, one of my favorite dishes at the Miramar Chin's.
On the good side, the beef had a nice texture, neither too soft, nor too tough and sinewy. The flavor really fell short though. There was a serious lack of five spice flavor, and the sauce, instead of being that classic Shanghainese sweet-soy, was watery and tasteless. Too bad, this dish has potential.
The last item we ordered were the Xiao Long Bao. Now Candice had mentioned something interesting to me. I was told that the Chef was the original chef of Mandarin Garden in Mira Mesa. And when the XLB arrived, I was suddenly reminded of Mandarin Garden.
You see, the two times I had XLB at Mandarin Garden, all the "soup" had leaked out of the bao. Guess what..... like Yogi Berra said: "It's like deja vu all over again." In addition to lacking soup, the skins were too thick for me, and the fold on the tops were really tough.
While we were eating, the young lady approached our table, and dropped this off, telling us, "this one is for you, free, so you can try." I'm not sure why we got the dish, whether all the customers that day were getting something free, or maybe it was all the questions, or perhaps she spotted my camera (I've gotten pretty good at being discreet over the years. I've actually had meals with folks who didn't notice I took photos). But we got a plate of Cold Roasted Duck:
And you know what..... this was the best dish of the day! The duck was nothing to write home about, but the sauce was a pot on rendition of the typical sweet-soy reduction typical of these type of cold dishes. The presence of soy was tasted, but the saltiness deferred to the sweetness, which was nicely restrained from sending the dish into "candyland". Now this dish displayed enough for me to return.
Meanwhile, a small army of Servers poured in the door, and the place had become fully staffed. The young women asked all the customers as they were leaving if they wanted to see the room in the back.
The banquet area is about 2/3 the size of the main dining area, and could probably hold up to perhaps 60 or so people. It's a short hallway down from the main dining area, and has two plasma televisions, and the young woman even pointed to a machine and said "Karaoke"......
I'm pretty sure we'll be checking this place out again once they start serving breakfast. The chef at tis Chin's has a good deal of experience so It'll be interesting to see how they match up with Shanghai City down the street.
4433 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111