- scene: Hmmm...large open dining room and smaller rooms in the back and off the main entrance; lightly colored walls showcase sepia tinged family photographs
- sip: Full bar available
- savor: Pan fried pork dumplings; hot and sour soup; spare ribs; shredded garlic chicken; Grand Marnier Shrimp; soft-shell crabs when in season
- sit: With family; with your friend who doesn't buy into fancy Chinese food; anyone who wants Chinese on a Sunday night
- spend: $$
- address: 216 East 49th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Aves)
- phone number: 212-888-4555
- website: www.chinchinny.com
Chin Chin is my favorite Chinese food ever. It might not be as good as what can be found at truly authentic holes in the walls in Chinatown, but I really don’t care. I have been going there for what seems like forever, and I have never been disappointed. Jimmy, the owner is a true class act, and has a way of making everyone feel welcome and special, regardless of their status as a regular or just a walk-in off the street.
When I think of the decor at Chin Chin, to me it is like when you tell someone the date you are setting them up with ” has a great personality.” The looks of Chin Chin are absolutely fine enough, but it is really about internal beauty, or more accurately, the food. Chin Chin is a better class of Chinese food- it is not greasy or heavy, and as much as stuff myself to my limits, I never feel ill or gross the next day, common side effects of indulging in Chinese food.
Now, about that food. Chin Chin scores big on both more familiar dishes and original creations. The pan fried pork dumplings are perfectly browned and filled, a winning mixture of flavor and texture. The hot and sour soup is the least oily that I have ever tried, and has a perfect level of spice, enough to get you hot and bothered but not so much as to cancel out other flavors. The lobster roll (RIP Bill Hong), is huge, but filled with with delicious chunks of lobster, crunchy veggie stuff and a perfectly fried shell. It is huge and nicely priced. Oh, and the Peking duck is divine, not greasy but perfectly crispy and moist.
The star of the show at Chin Chin are the Grand Marnier Shrimp, a truly unique creation that does not necessarily seem Chinese in its origin, but has earned a devoted following for a reason. It is lightly fried shrimp with a creamy citrus sauce, served over lettuce. You just have to believe me when I tell you that it is not too heavy and won’t make you feel ill. My other favorites include the shredded chicken (it is more like thinly sliced), anything with soft-shell crabs when they are in season (especially the pan fried noodles), and the orange beef. The ten ingredient fried rice is also a winer, but I get annoyed with the little shrimp, they just seem so out of scale and unnecessary, but I guess asking for nine ingredient fried rice is just not the same.