As one of the newest dining options in the Spanish Springs area, Chin Chin Restaurant has an uphill climb. The decor is more polished than most strip-mall restaurants, lending an ambiance that says “date night” more than “bring the kids.” It offers delivery service, which might help it compete with the numerous Asian cuisine options in the area, and Chin Chin’s mix of Chinese, Thai and Hibachi dishes makes for interesting options.
After being seated, we were served fried wonton strips with (canned?) sweet and sour sauce and Chinese hot mustard. The hostess was friendly, but we had a pretty severe language gap with our server. Thankfully, the hostess came back and sorted things out.
My wife and I chose Combination Dinner C (for two or more, $15.99 per person). The meal is served with a choice of entree from a list of 11 options, steamed or fried rice, and one of several soups. The appetizer plate featured two pieces each of crab rangoon, fried prawns, beef sticks and vegetable egg rolls.
My wife’s hot and sour soup needed more heat. My order of wonton soup was better—nothing special, but acceptable. The appetizers were pretty good. The beef sticks were skewers of marinated, tender flank steak served with teriyaki sauce. Butterflied prawns were breaded and crispy, as were fried triangles of wonton wrapper and cheese. Unfortunately, the vegetables inside the egg rolls were undercooked and stringy, making it nearly impossible to bite through without leaving the contents all over the plate.
My wife’s Hibachi Triple Delight entree was quite good, with a mix of veggies, chicken and scallops in a savory, slightly spicy sauce. The veggies were cooked with just a bit of crunch. No complaints about the meat—quite tender and tasty.
My choice of Black Pepper Delicacy was less successful. A shallow dish of diced bell pepper and onion in a dark gravy comprised the “black pepper sauce,” perhaps so-named for its color. I certainly couldn’t detect any peppercorn in this condiment served with battered shrimp, scallops, and “crab” (obviously surimi, a.k.a. krab-with-a-K). The batter was similar to tempura, though lacking in crunch or flavor. I dunked the first couple pieces in gravy, but eventually gave up and freed the seafood from its dense, spongy cocoon. Though I don’t mind surimi per se, I’d really love it if all restaurants would identify it as such instead of calling it crab.
Our dining companions chose to order single entrees, which meant I got to try a couple more dishes. A dish of Singapore rice noodles was agreed to be everyone’s favorite ($9.99), a bed of thin vermicelli supporting chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts, onion, and scallion in a spicy curry sauce redolent of Chinese Five Spice blend. An order of teriyaki New York strip steak rounded out the meal, with chunks of medium rare beef and al dente veggies ($15.99).
Though our overall meal was pleasant, there were service snafus throughout. The wrong soup was delivered, then replaced, and everyone’s entrees arrived with considerable time gaps between them. Last to the table was a mistake plate of some chicken dish rather than the steak, so time was lost waiting for its replacement. When the correct plate finally arrived, the vegetables were nice and hot, but the beef was barely warm. There were plenty of good flavors, but the staff have a lot to learn about timing. My order of hot sake ($5.99) didn’t arrive until after the appetizers and one of the entrees. Chin Chin has only been open a few weeks, so hopefully it'll find it's path up that hill.