PRO: Grand Marnier Shrimp, great service, nice place
CON: A little spendy
Yep, we were jonsin’ for some Chinois the other night in NYC. And this place made the Eater 38 list, we trust those guys, so we went for it. We arrived at Chin Chin about 2 minutes before their closing time of midnight. So
we slunk in there and basically told ‘em we’re cool if they didn’t want to serve us.
They were pretty much empty, and the cool owner, Jimmy Chin, told us for sure we can eat if we just step on the gas as far as ordering goes. And he assured us there’d be no rush as far as eating and having a bevvie or three, he just wanted to send his kitchen staff home. Get ‘em off the clock, brutha. We get it.
So this place is a ‘nice’ Chinois. No sweat shop vibe, get my drift? Nice atmosphere and kind of a classic layout, with a bar on the left, and lots of black and white pictures of various Chinese people hanging on the wall. No, not Chinese people hanging off walls, ‘tardo. This isn’t Tiananmen Square. I mean pictures of Chinese folks, and said pictures were hanging on the walls. Clear?
Anyhoo, in in the 30 seconds (he wasn’t kidding about that whole immediate ordering thing) we had to make our decision on what to order, we rattled off a few dishes and then the GM told us we had to have the Chin Chin house special Grand Marnier Shrimp. So I says to myself, “self, WTF? If they’re the house special why aren’t they on the menu?!” I guess they’re just for special people. That’s right.
So not surprisingly, the Chin Chin chow showed up in about 4 minutes. Here we go: The Steamed Dumpling Sampler ($12.50), one each of Shrimp, Chicken and Vegetable. We both liked the the Shrimp dumplings the best. The actual dumplings were nice and thin, not too chewy and held the dumpling contents just dandy, not robbing from the flavors. JHC I just sounded like a dumpling freak. Anyway,the Shrimp was just so nice and simple, very plump with some good spicy mustard sauce. Coulda had an entire platter of these bad boys. The Chicken and Veggie were good as well, nice and fresh, not greasy grimy Chinese like you get at lots of places. We backed that up with some of the best Spring Rolls ($9) ever. No shit, Chung. Why? Again, not greasy but fried just right. The shell was delicate but still crunchy and the veggies inside were perfectly cooked.
Then we had…well actually we had everything all at once ‘cuz they literally dished it up for us…the Shredded Chicken with Garlic Sauce ($21.50), which is what it says, people. A nice sized serving on mostly breast, green beans, a little red chile and not-too-strong garlic sauce mixed in. Pretty basic but very well made and hit the spot.
Last but not least? The Special Of The House, The Grand Marnier Shrimp ($35!), about a half dozen shrimp that they marinate in Grand Marnier, then toss with a little Mayonnaise (sorry, I just threw up a little in my mouth. My mom used to force-feed me Mayo Sandos on Wonder bread for lunch when I was a tyke) and wok-cook for a few minutes. The result? F’ing incredible. If ya didn’t know it was marinated in G-M, ya prolly wouldn’t know since the alcohol mostly cooks off. What’s left is a subtle orange spice flavor that’s not sweet but just goes perfectly with the nice firm shrimp. Just a little crispiness on the outside. Slurp! Not sure what the mayo added, but I’ll take their word for it. Not cheap by any means but worth it.
So bottom line, yes, you can get cheaper Chinese on just about every corner. We are aware. We’re not suggesting this to be your daily go-to for a quick egg roll, but when you want to treat yourself a little. Or write it off on your company AMEX. Or dine and dash. Oops, stick with the company card.
VdV Rating: 3.5
216 East 49th Street (betw 2nd & 3rd)
New York, NY 10017