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The Tangerine Crispy Shrimp at Chin's Szechwan. Courtesy photo
ColumnsFood & WineLick the Plate

Lick the Plate: Chin’s newest location brings it back home to Carlsbad

Chin’s Szechwan has always been my go-to for solid Chinese food in the area and I was excited to hear they have added a new location with their just-opened spot on Roosevelt Street in Carlsbad Village. It was actually a proud Lick the Plate moment this past Saturday when I was told that my carryout order was their first in the new restaurant. I thought that was pretty cool.

While waiting for my order, I had a fun conversation with General Manager Mary Stanford, who started out as a regular customer and as a result became friends with the family. So much so that she began helping them during holidays and weekends. Eventually she started to manage restaurants and took over the bookkeeping, which she is still doing for them 30 years later along with her GM role. She had this to say about the team at Chin’s: “All our staff and shareholders are like family and we work as a team. The owner Ting Kun Tsai keeps us motivated and collected, which I credit to our success through the years. He is an amazing person to work with.”

I mentioned Chin’s bringing it back home to Carlsbad as the original Chin’s started in Carlsbad on Madison Street back in the ’80s. Ting Kun Tsai was one of the original owners and in time they became one of the largest family-owned restaurant chains in San Diego. In 2010, the chain was divided into two groups and today they have five locations in Encinitas, Oceanside, Vista, Rancho Bernardo, and their newest location in Carlsbad on Roosevelt Street next to the post office.

The new location has the original management team and owner, which makes it even more special for everyone involved. They had been wanting to get back to Carlsbad for quite some time and when they learned that the Overseas Restaurant owners wanted to retire after 30 years in business they jumped at the opportunity. Having established themselves in so many of our local communities over the years, Chin’s has developed a loyal following in each of them and have catered weddings, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries … just about any occasion. So yes, keep them in mind for your next event.

So that’s a bit on Chin’s backstory and how the new location came about. Let’s get into their menu, which is based on Szechwan and Hunan style cooking. The variety of flavors and textures offered has something for everyone and given their coastal location with its health-conscious customers, they have increased their offerings of vegetarian and gluten-free entrees.

Their most popular dishes include Spicy Honey Chicken, Honey Walnut Shrimp, Ku Ting Chicken, Black Pepper Beef, and Tangerine Crispy Shrimp. My carryout order had me set for lunch, dinner, a late-night snack and breakfast the next day. I started with Pot Stickers, which were quite good and that I spread over three of those meals, as I did with most of these dishes and is one of the bonuses of ordering from Chin’s — the portions are sizable. Both the Honey Walnut Shrimp and Pao Hu, or “Hot burned Pork,” were delicious along with the Spicy Honey Chicken.

One of my favorite Chinese delights is Egg Foo Young. It’s just such a classic dish and the large patty is made fresh daily and served with snow peas, mushrooms, broccoli, baby corn, mushrooms, carrots and bok choy in a brown sauce and oh boy is it fabulous … especially as a leftover. I had to sample their Pork Fried Rice and loved that as well. And as I’ve mentioned, every one of these dishes worked just as well as leftovers. My thing with fried rice is to crisp it up a bit in a skillet then add a couple eggs to it either mixed in or fried whole and set on top of the rice. There are so many ways to get creative with these leftovers.

Given that restaurants like Chin’s have always been a carryout staple, that has that enabled them to survive the pandemic and the associated restrictions. Stanford summed it up this way: “We have been able to sustain with proper planning from our team to weather times like these but most importantly, it’s the support from the communities that keep us going. Since the beginning of the year, the communities have been amazing in their support of not just our business but all the others that are struggling as well.

“We are keenly aware that it’s not just about ‘us.’ It’s about everyone who is having hardships. It’s about San Diegans. It’s important that we give back to San Diego to say thank you for their continued support. Just this year we have donated over $5k to the food bank and that’s just from the business, not including our personal donations. We donated thousands to the Community Resource Center toward a new food truck. Through the years, we have supported the Children’s Hospital, Blood Bank, Animal Shelters, and more.

“Bottom line, we are grateful to be here and we thank everyone for their continued support.”

That, my friends, is a business worth supporting.

And if carryout is not convenient, Chin’s offers delivery via GrubHub, Doordash, Postmates, and UberEats.

Find the newest Chin’s at 2820 Roosevelt Street, Carlsbad – 760-729-0348 or