Wow! That’s Hot! And I Don’t Mean the Peppers – Chin’s

chins outside

Misty says…

I have been going to Chin’s in Kanawha City ever since I joined the lunch group (before we started the blog) and I could never find anything I really liked.  I have tried the Lo Mein, the chicken and broccoli, the pepper steak, and a few others and it all tasted, for a lack of a better term, slimy. 

After a while, I gave up and would just order the sweet and sour chicken.  I wasn’t happy with that choice, but at least it wasn’t slimy.  I would always agree to go to Chin’s with an unenergetic “that’s fine.”

UNTIL ….a few months ago, we were there and Daniel was asking the server some questions about the items on the menu.  He asked about the sauce on the Tahitian Chicken and she described it as a yellow gravy.  Ummmm…I was interested now.  She offered to bring us a sample before we ordered, and I jumped on the offer.

chins yellow gravy

When she brought it out, we commented that it looked like chicken gravy that you would get at Bob Evans or some other country cookin’ restaurant.  Guess what, folks?…it tastes like it, too.  That settled it, I was breaking free of the sweet and sour chicken, and ordering the Tahitian chicken.  And, I haven’t looked back.  This may be one of the Best Chinese Dishes of ALL Time. 

Tahitian chicken consists of an entire piece of chicken that is breaded and fried very crispy.  Then, it is cut into strips.  I get my gravy on the side.  But if ordered without any special requests, it is poured over the chicken before it leaves the kitchen.    The chicken is always blasting hot- and very crispy…Like it has just been taken out of the fryer.

chins tahitian chick

I have to admit, this dish doesn’t taste like any other Chinese food that I have ever gotten.  But who am I to question it.  If you want a Chinese dish that is not your typical item find on a buffet, order the Tahitian chicken.

Other food at Chins:

Fried rice- I really like the fried rice at Chin’s.  Chin’s gives you a generous amount and it is very flavorful.  A big plus-  it doesn’t contain a frozen vegetable medley.  Rice loaded with onions is usually my complaint about the fried rice at other Chinese locations.  Chin’s is just plain and tasty.

Egg Rolls- Let’s just say, I’m glad none of the “others” took a picture of my egg roll.  I love the crispy outside of Chin’s egg rolls; but I’m not a fan of the celery laden filling.  So, I pick out the entire filling and dip the crunchy shell in the sweet & sour sauce.

It’s a good thing I found the Tahitian chicken before we did our actual review of Chin’s.  Their rating improved dramatically with this finding…Chin’s is a now a solid THREE FORKS.

P.S.  The Tahitian Chicken is the lunch special on Thursdays!

Daniel says…

chins eggroll

This is were we go when we are lacking chinese food control and a visit to a Chinese buffet would cause an obscene amount of calories to be eaten.  Chin’s is diet Chinese for the Five.  We visit about once a month and are always amused and well fed.  This place has it quirks – “PLEASE, Do not touch the Bhudda!” Personally, I can resist bronzed man boobs. 🙂See full size image

Phil brags on the egg rolls at Chin’s.  He says they are the best.  I say they are best in their category. They are made mostly of celery with a little bit of shrimp.  It is especially good with a thin layer of real chinese mustard. (My sinuses are clearing just typing about it)  It seems that the egg rolls leave the deep fryer and are on your plate in 15 seconds.  If you take a bite of these guys too early molten celery lava will burn a whole through your tounge, land on the floor and burn a hole all the way to China.

Everybody has found their special dish at Chin’s and mine is the Soy Chicken. It has another name on the menu, but it says (Soy Chicken) next to it.  A lean boneless breast of chicken is marinated and cooked in soy sauce.  The lunch combo comes with broccoli and your choice of rice.  A side of sweet and tangy soy based dipping sauce accompanies the entree.  This a tender, but not juicy preparation. This chicken is consistently on the dry side, which might be caused by the extended marination.  The marinade may pull moisture from the chicken.

chins soy chick

If you dislike buffets and want to be served good Chinese foods visit this Three Fork Kanawha City landmark.

Susan says…

I gotta have me some Chinese food once a week.  This week, Chin’s drew the short straw.   We have been here on many occasions, just never documented it for a proper forking until now.

chins diaper cake

What a cute and quirky little restaurant.  From the diaper cakes for sale displayed in the center of the dining area to the cart the lone waitress pushes to and fro the kitchen, it is a unique dining experience.

Service is always prompt, polite, and professional.  All of our questions were answered succintly and we were even offered a taste of the “yellow gravy” on our previous visit after questioning exactly what that would be like.  That’s good service.

Sorry Hippie Killer and Rob, but I can’t help but contend that the drinks are ENTIRELY too expensive, crossing the $2 threshold to $2.25.  I will not drink a soda here again unless someone else is paying.

The food, though, is very reasonably priced with the lunches ranging from $4-something to $6-something and include soup or eggroll and rice.  There aren’t a plethora of choices on the menu but there seems to be something to make each of us happy.  Especially now that Misty has discovered her favorite Chinese sauce of all time: the Chinese Chicken Gravy. 

Today I tried to order the Cantonese fish but with any of the other, spicier sauces rather than the yellow gravy it was intended to be served alongside, but after failing to communicate that notion, I thought it best to just order something else off the menu: Kung Pao Chicken.

chins kung pao

Kung Pao Chicken

The one thing you can always count on at Chin’s, beside that cute little stainless steel cart, is that your food is served PIPING HOT!  And I am not exaggerating.  Your dish doesn’t sit on a counter in the kitchen any time at all before it is delivered to you via the cart.  That goes for the yummy, always crispy, celery-filled eggrolls, too.  By the time Doctor Misty closes the celery-removal-surgery, she is left only with the crispy shell and a couple morsels of shrimp.

chins specials

The Kung Pao was also served very hot and fresh.  Highlighted by a nice variety of vegetables, the chicken is sliced thin and cooked tender.  Just enough sauce lightly coats the components and pools slightly on the plate.  At one point, I picked up a bite of broccoli from the center of the Kung Pao food pyramid and then made several faces and wild hand motions trying to chew it whilst it set my mouth aflame.  The others were so involved in conversation they didn’t notice my desperation, thank goodness. But it didn’t slow me down…food was too good.  The only disappointment about it, to some (like Ron), would be the utter lack of peanuts or any other type of nut as would be expected in this dish.  I don’t really like them on my food anyway so it was all the better for me.

I never say no when the gang wants to go to Chin’s.  Check out the daily lunch specials for $4.50.  A definite THREE FORK experience.

Chin’s
4114 Maccorkle Ave SE
Charleston, WV
(304) 925-1080
M-F 11-2, 5-9:30
Saturday 4-9:30
Sunday noon-8:30
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13 responses to “Wow! That’s Hot! And I Don’t Mean the Peppers – Chin’s

  1. I love chin’s! Their crab rangoon is also fabulous as is their lemon chicken. Unfortunately because I’m so addicted to the mongolian chicken and garlic green beans on Zheng’s china buffet we don’t make it here nearly enough!

  2. Hippie Killer

    $2.25 is a steep. But I can’t for the life of me remember the last time I ordered soda at a Chinese restaurant.

  3. SagaciousHillbilly

    Mr. Chin’s is as good as it gets for anything like real Chinese in Charleston.

  4. As a lifelong Kanawha City resident, Chin’s is a treasure. The best chinese food in Charleston.

  5. Perhaps Tahitian Chicken “doesn’t taste like any other Chinese food” because Tahiti is not in China. Just a thought.

  6. Tara-

    While I am super happy to know you are a fan of my favorite Mongolian chicken and garlicky green beans at my favorite Chinese place, I must disagree with you about the crab rangoons at Chin’s. Misty & I ordered them once and we didn’t like them at all. We left them uneaten. Surprisingly Misty didn’t even remove all the filling and eat just the fried wonton shells.

  7. HK-

    do you usually have the tea? Or are you always going at a time when you can enjoy an adult beverage?

    I don’t care for any hot beverages. Not even hot buttered rum, although that one’s as close I ever got to finishing an entire cup of a drink served hot.

    Daniel and Phil order the hot tea about half the time. The other half, Daniel is still ordering those Arnold Palmers. His current excuse: it’s a summertime drink.

  8. Clear Eyes-

    I wondered the same thing.

    Does anyone know if this Chinese Chicken Gravy is indeed an authentic Chinese dish that you could find if you actually traveled to China? It’s what I imagine Bob Evans would put on his menu if he were Chinese.

  9. Can’t find a dinner entree to your liking at Chin’s try the BoBo Platter for 2….really yummy!

  10. As a chinese person, I don’t recall ever seeing a dish that has a “yellow gravy” on the chicken. But who knows… China’s a large place and each region has it’s own style of cooking with it own unique dishes. Although, I think Clear Eyes gets it right when he points out “Tahitian”. However, if it tastes good to you, does it even matter if it is authentic?

    • I agree, if it’s good, then it’s good, authentic or not. Likely not authentic, but really no places in Chas really have all authentic chinese food. MOst of us know that things like pepper steak, fried rice, s&s dishes and the like are americanized creations of chinese food. But if its good, it’s good.

  11. Chin’s has always had good eats on each of my visits. It’s a nice gem in Charleston bc they have americanized chinese dishes like sweet & sour chicken, kung pao, pepper steak and all that), but what’s really good there is the authentic dinners like the hot & spicy shrimp (it’s on the dinner selections) and spicy szecuan spare ribs. Seems like Misty has just been ordering the wrong things on her lunch visits. Check out thedinner selections. I mean come on, she likes the chicken with gravy? She obviously does not know chinese food. That chicken dish is on the menu, and I hear from friends it is yummy (not real chinese at all, but if it’s good, then it’s good right?)….but she needs to order the right dish. I’ve never found any of the dishes to be slimy…that’s chinese cooking, sauces that are mixed into the veggies and meats when stir-fried. If Misty is use to frozen food section chinese microwave meals, of course these are not going to have sauces. I’ve had the king pao at Chin’s and it’s quite good…that was a good choice Susan. And yes, the food always comes out piping hot. Which as a self-proclaimed foodie, I really like bc I know it’s not been sitting back in the kitchen or on some steam table at a buffet place where all other diners have coughed all over the food. My family and friends and I have been eating at Chin;s for years. Maybe try something different next time: Woo Dip Har (Butterfly Shrimp, S-12 on dinner menu), it’s butterflie shrimp, with light batter and wrapped in bacon & served over grilled/fried onions and topped with a sweet & sour sauce. The Shrimp with Lobster Sauce is another favorite of mine. The bo bo platter is rihgt on point too. We love starting off with that as an appetizer, it comes with selections of beef skewers, chicken wings, fried wontons, and yes, egg roll, which I think are the best bc it’s not filled with that same old same old shredded cabbage. the egg roll filling there is more of a piping hot pie like filling with celery, mushrooms and chopped shrimp (I wish more shrimp though). And, have you tried the lettuce wraps? The wraps are really good, and rivals the best around, including PF Chang’s (an american national chain restaurant). Definitely a good place with great food. They get my vote and forks up!

  12. This is the best place in Charleston when it comes to chinese food. I started going with my parents as a kid & now I take my kids there. We always order the Mongolian Beef, the Butterfly Shrimp and the shrimp fried rice. Have not ben in there for their lunch menu, just dinner and carryout.

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