The Coast News Group

Good decor and menu at Chin’s

My dear husband is a VIP member of Chin’s, an honor he got in palmier, pre-social security days. When the restaurant was being built, John ate there constantly with his last wife and Chin Tsai himself rewarded him.
Alas, we’re back to menu manipulation. We love their lunch price of $8.95 for Szechwan Scallops so we ordered them to split. They came with soup — which John devoured — rice and salad. Because of that VIP card we got a free iced tea, which I drank. It was a first-class meal.
Our alternate choice was to split Hot Braised Delight, $8.95, which also had soup and salad and rice. Shorthand for sliced chicken breast and shrimp in a heavenly homemade tomato sauce, we’ve had it before and loved it.
To know all about the restaurant, visit You’ll find 12 Chin’s from Oahu, Hawaii, to Carlsbad and beyond. Quite an expansion for a single proprietor.
We love the décor here in Vista almost as much as we love the logo, which depicts Chin’s beginning date of 1976 in Hawaii all the way to their 1984 establishment in the San Diego area, with 12 circles, one for each eatery, surrounding a panda bear.
At night we can eat on linen-covered tables but at lunch, with its lower prices, attractive place mats and paper napkins are the rule.
Don’t let the “Szechwan” designation fool you. There are many Mandarin, or less spicy, choices and the hot dishes — clearly differentiated on the menu with asterisks — can be mild or spicy as the patron stipulates.
Another recommendation we can pass on are the pan-fried soft noodles for $7.50 with shrimp, beef, or chicken for $1 extra. That really is an ample meal for two, and the noodles are real lo mien, not the spaghetti that we’ve received in other Chinese restaurants.
Chin’s extensive and attractive menu includes beef, pork, vegetables, salad, chicken, shrimp and seafood dishes, and can be ordered on the early bird from 3 to 5 p.m. for an additional $1.
Children’s plates for $6.95, fried bananas for $5.50 and cheesecake for $4.95 round out an excellent group of dessert choices. Their hot and sour soup at $6.95 for two or three people is the most authentic I’ve had since I took cooking lessons from Joyce Chen and made it myself. Really, really good. (But with its vinegar and broth base, it may be an acquired taste.)
The restaurant is located at the corner of East Vista Way and Escondido and is open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call (760) 732-3880 for takeout.