[Photos: Patricia Chang]
The team behind Tacolicious (Joe Hargrave, Telmo Faria, and Mike Barrow) have made their first leap beyond Mexican food with today's opening of Chino, their new Asian restaurant in the former Andalu space at 16th and Guerrero. Like Tacolicious, it's meant to offer a fun, casual party vibe (open until 1 am!) that's less about stringent authenticity than good eats, and the menu accordingly spans cultures, drawing in Chinese, Filipino, Korean, and American influences that are reflected in the lineup of chefs: chef de cuisine Dale Arcalas is Filipino-American, sous chef Bryan Choi is Korean-American, bartender Danny Louie is Chinese-American, and Shanghainese dumpling maker Leo Gan once folded dough for Cecilia Chiang at the Mandarin.
The menu is a hodgepodge of flavors and references, from XLB (those would be xiao long bao, a.k.a. soup dumplings) inspired by Kingdom of Dumpling's, vegetable recipes scored on research trips to Taiwan, lumpia from Arcalas' mom, and a wing recipe concocted by Bar Tartine's Nick Balla (dubbed "dope-ass Japan-O-Mission wings.") There are pot stickers, steamed pork buns, three kinds of fried rice, a bunch of noodle options (from cold sesame noodles to braised pork noodles), and some unconventional bao, like spicy fried chicken and chicharron-avocado. Nothing on the menu is over $11, making it an ideal spot for a quick snack and drink at the bar or for groups to share a bunch of plates. Here's the full food menu. Be sure to grab a fortune cookie—they have hip-hop lyrics inside.
On the drinks side, Louie has concocted a menu of well-crafted crowd-pleasers, with classics like the Shanghai Buck and Singapore Sling and newer concoctions like the Flying Dutchman (genever, apple-tea shrub, celery juice, lime) and the Chinatown Iced Tea (baijiu, almond milk, passion fruit, Lipton tea, and lemon). Order up a Dragon Lady, and you'll get a toast to long life and a double shot of baijiu, in honor of 94-year-old Chiang. Oh, and lest we forget, there are boba cocktails, including a boba variation on a piña colada. A small, food-friendly wine list, simple beers, and Red Blossom tea round out the drink offering. Here's the full drinks menu.
The space, like all of the Tacolicious outposts, was designed by Hargrave, and it's full of cheeky touches like action figures and '70s toys on the walls and lavender-painted sneakers hanging from the strings of overhead lights. Big, colorful snapshots of Chinatown denizens and shopping bags hang on the exposed-brick walls. The space seats 66 downstairs and includes a sizable bar; a private area upstairs has its own bar and accommodates 32. Also of note: the Tacolicious School Project, in which 15% of Monday-night proceeds are donated to a local school, will continue at Chino. Hours are daily, 11:30 am-1 am.
· Brandon Jew Pulls Out of Tacolicious' Chino Project [~ ESF ~]
· Chino Launches Ferry Building Farmer's Market Stand [~ ESF ~]
· Andalu Closing, Getting Chinese Takeover From Tacolicious/Brandon Jew [~ ESF ~]