Entries in Chin Chin (2)


Review Recap: Chin Chin

Today’s stop on Sam Sifton’s restaurant irrelevance tour is Chin Chin, which gets one star:

There was a time in New York when the fundamental distinction in Chinese restaurants was not among regional cuisines, but among Manhattan neighborhoods. There was Chinatown Chinese, of course: voir-dire lunches, chop-suey perfection, the mystery and excitement of dim sum served over sticky floors. And there was uptown Chinese: cocktails and Peking duck served on starched white tablecloths, with prices to match. This, too, had its charms.

Chin Chin belongs to the latter camp. The restaurant is not particularly Cantonese, as was true of many of the early upscale Chinese restaurants in Manhattan. It is not Sichuan, either, nor tied in fact to any particular Chinese cuisine. It is what Mr. Chin calls a “restaurant chinois.”

But never mind that French talk. Order a dry martini and allow the pressures of the city to recede in its glow. Chin Chin is as American as pork dumplings and sticky spareribs, cold noodles with sesame sauce, three-glass chicken and fried rice.

As we noted yesterday, there is little point in re-reviewing such a place, except to change its rating. In our haste, we misquoted Bryan Miller’s review of a quarter-century ago: he gave it two stars, not one. Hence Sifton’s rating is one star, not the two we predicted.

Nevertheless, we suspect Sifton could go on all year re-reviewing decades-old one and two-star restaurants that are not what they used to be. What is the point?


Review Preview: Chin Chin

Tomorrow, the increasingly strange voyage of Times critic Sam Sifton takes him to Chin Chin, one of the city’s few upscale Chinese restaurants that has a modicum of critical acclaim.

The Eater oddsmakers are so shellshocked by last week’s bizarro threespot for Colicchio & Sons that they’ve declined to set a line this week. Nevertheless, we’ll wade in. We haven’t dined at Chin Chin in nearly twenty years, and we don’t know anyone who has, so our prediction is based purely on meta criteria.

Chin Chin hasn’t made any news lately: there is no new chef or renovation that would compel a re-review. Bryan Miller awarded one star in 1987. Why review it again unless something has changed? A demotion is always possible, but you very rarely see a one-to-zero downgrade in the Times, as there are probably hundreds of restaurants that got one star originally, but have slipped since then. Zero-star Chinese food is too commonplace to be worth spilling ink on.

That leaves an upgrade as the most likely outcome, so we’ll go ahead and predict two stars for Chin Chin.