Opening this Wednesday for drinks and dinner is ~CHINO~, the playful new Chinese-inspired noodle and dumpling spot from the Tacolicious crew (Joe Hargrave, Sara Deseran, executive chef Antelmo Faria, and director of beverage Mike Barrow). As previously mentioned on tablehopper, the team also includes bar manager Danny Louie (formerly at The Alembic), along with chef de cuisine Dale Arcalas, pastry chef Leo Gan (the man behind the XLB and noodles, who started out in the kitchen of Cecilia Chiang’s Mandarin restaurant), and general manager Eric Stahl.
You will barely recognize the former Andalu space—the team gutted it and have filled it with a bunch of fun details, from the glowing ceiling full of 600 string lightbulbs (look for the hanging pair of hot pink kicks), punchy Chinatown-inspired art on the brick walls by photographer Drew Kelly, some booth seating, and a brilliant design touch: a sunken container for chopsticks and silverware on the tables. There are 66 seats, and the upstairs private dining room will be available very soon and can accommodate 32 seated and 50 standing. Score: it has its own private bar and flat-screen TV too.
The menu is as engaging as the décor, with dishes ranging from “cucumbers, all busted up” (with garlic, daikon, chile de arbol, $4); housemade silken tofu (with chile, mint & x.o.x.o. [hugs & kisses] sauce, $8); and “Nick Balla’s dope ass Japan-o-Mission wings” (fishy-limey hot-and-sour sauce, $9). Take a look at the preliminary opening menu here.
It’s perfect weather for cold sesame noodles with cucumber and summer squash ($6), and yuba salad with cilantro-ginger “salsa verde” and pickled shiitake mushrooms ($9). There will be a variety of soups, from hot and sour to shrimp wonton-noodle soup, plus three kinds of fried rice, a bunch of dumplings (steamed and fried), and bao. The prices are also really affordable (snacks from $4; dumplings and bao from $7; noodles from $6), and they’re using hormone-free meats that have been humanely raised, sustainable fish, and organic vegetables when possible.
Danny Louie’s cocktail menu is really fun (here’s the initial menu), with all cocktails for $11, like the Ho Coc (coriander-infused Flor de Caña rum, black tea, pineapple, lime) and Chinatown Iced Tea (baijiu, almond milk, passion fruit, Lipton tea, lemon). You’ll also find a couple boba cocktails (cool!), like the Boba Colada ($11) with Denizen rum, Chino 5-spice cola, jugo de piña, coconut milk, lime, and green tea. If you want a lighter cocktail (but why?!) or nonalcoholic options, there are some good choices, plus tea, beer, and some food-friendly wines available in three sizes (250ml, 500ml, and 750ml).
Initial hours will have the bar opening at 4pm, with dinner 5:30pm-10pm. Starting on Monday June 2nd, hours will extend to include full lunch and dinner service from 11:30am-1am.
Front booth action, and yes, that’s Simon on the shelf. Photo courtesy of Chino.