Chino: Chinese Transformed
The word for Chinese in Spanish is Chino. That may or may not be apropos for the name of a Chinese restaurant located in the Mission district of San Francisco. My BFF and I went there for lunch a few months ago. I got a good energetic vibe as I walked into Chino. It was bright, hip, and not a typical Chinese restaurant (host is not a young Chinese female).
We were seated and I was excited by the decor and the fun environment. I loved the colorful plastic chopsticks. If xiao lung bao, Shanghai soup dumplings are on a menu, there is no question that I have to order them. The ones at Chino were pretty good. The dumpling skin was a little on the thick side, but sometimes they have to be in order to ensure the dumpling doesn’t get punctured and the soup spills out.
One of my BFF’s favorite type of dumpling are the wontons in chili oil so we ordered them. These were filled with shrimp and they were quite good. The little bit of heat elevates these dumplings immensely. Although I didn’t see any Chinese employees, their dumpling master is a native of Shanghai.
If you go to a typical dumpling house, you will not find bao de chicharon, aka pork belly sliders with avocado salsa and pickled onions. You will definitely find it on the Chino menu and they were delicious.
When I saw cold sesame noodles on the menu, I was immediately reminded of the popular dish eaten by New Yorkers. This is not something I have seen on Bay Area menus. This version had cucumber, mushrooms, and summer squash. It didn’t quite meet my expectations, but I did enjoy the vegetables.
We shared a matcha green tea soft serve for dessert. The soft serve is made using Straus Cream and was topped with fruity pebbles. The colors defined the restaurant. I actually loved the smoothness of the soft serve and the matcha flavor was awesome. This was my favorite thing at Chino.
Chino just screams fun and I’d like to go back with a few more people in order to try a larger variety of food. I would also want to make it dinner and see what their cocktail menu is all about.
Chino is located at 3198 – 16th Street (cross street is Guerrero Street) in San Francisco.