Oh Chi-Lin, you are so beautiful. Like a Damien Hirst, you shimmer with extravagance, you glitter and shimmy about with a sexy exuberance. You attract stars (Bill Maher on this night) to your swank address on Sunset across from the Soho House. And your menu is a cornucopia of Asian delight as seen through the prism of the monied and privileged.
But are you more than a beautiful mistress?
But are you enough?
There is much to like. The room is dizzying in its beauty. The service is professional and accommodating. The menu is both approachable and interesting. You walk in and feel like this could be a good night in the best of a Vegas sort of way.
And as sampled, many of the courses are good. The best being the Chi Lin Peking duck with lacquered skin, porbein crepe with plum sauce, cucumbers and scallions. This is not the duck of WP24 nor the value of San Gabriel Valley, but the table is quite pleased. Aberdeen Alaskan king crab cooked in crispy garlic and chile, twirled with clear mung bean noodles also does some good damage.
In fact, other than the pretty mundane Hong Kong Pineapple Rice with shrimp, chicken, peas and carrots baked in a hollowed pineapple most dishes are met with general approval.
So what pray tell is the issue? Nothing is amazing though you are paying as if it all is. This is a hyper-stylized Mr. Chow. For some that is enough. For others looking for a wow of food to go with the wow of place they will be disappointed. You will however wow at the final bill and the $11 valet.
The Monster tries pea leaf and water chestnut dumplings, kale and shitake mushroom salad, braised black cod kang style, chile garlic Brussels sprouts, and the prawn, crab and asparagus toast along with two desserts in addition to the above so it is not for lack of trying.
A place like Chi-Lin has a definite place in LA, but one’s tolerance for it will be wholly up to the individual. Many will choose to drive out East instead and incur bad service and ugly rooms for cheaper and more authentic food while some of you will be quite pleased slinging on the hip (you hope) outfit and throwing down the platinum (or black) card.
Why go? You do not do San Gabriel.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
9201 West Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069