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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

East Comes West at Chi Lin in West Hollywood

Part of a growing trend to serve Chinese food with locavoire sourcing and an attention to healthy choices, Chi Lin off the Sunset Strip  (9201 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood CA 90069, 310/278-2068) pays homage to the spirit of Chinese cuisine with upscale versions of classic dishes like Peking Duck, soup with steamed dumplings, tangerine beef, tofu with pork and stir fried clams.
Tucked away just off Sunset Boulevard next to the much larger restaurant, Rivabella, the entrance to Chi Lin is marked by a bordello red neon sign suggesting forbidden treats and dangers are inside.

Chi Lin is a restaurant for special occasions. The dining room  is perfect for a romantic liaison with a new friend or to celebrate the love of your life on an important anniversary. A hostess in a clinging black leather dress, cut mid-thigh, will lead you to your table in an intimate dining room.
Rows of lights hang down from the ceiling, their dim rays illuminating not so much the room as the essence of the space. The mirrored walls reflect the ceiling lights to infinity. Tables and booths allow for comfortable seating. The waitstaff is attentive. The menu accommodates omnivores, pescetarians and vegetarians.

Of course, if you are an omnivore, willing to eat whatever flies, walks and swims on planet Earth, you will be very happy indeed. Shellfish, fish, pork, lamb, beef, chicken and duck are featured ingredients. As befits an upscale restaurant, the plating of the dishes is beautiful. Chi Lin embraces the theatrical in its setting and its dishes in a good way.
Every Tuesday, a sampling of Chi Lin's signature dish, Peking Duck, is offered in two presentations along with a Sparkling Mao vodka cocktail at an affordable $24.00.  The mini-tasting gives diners an authentic presentation of a classic Chinese dish, with it's intoxicatingly mix of fatty-crisp-salty-sweetness.

The menu is extensive enough to encourage repeat visits. After a tasting with other food writers, everyone made notes about the menu items to try next time.
I definitely want to try the Steamed Char Siu Bao, Fresh Kale and Crispy Shiitake Mushroom Salad, Wok-Fired Manila Clams with Lap Xuong and Xo Sauce and the Charred Haricot Vert with Chinese Flavors.
And, I would order again the 5-Spice Smoked Shaved Beef on Crispy Scallion Pastry, the vegetarian Yu-Shiang Style Eggplant Chips, the pescetarian Peking Prawns, Black Pepper Two Basil Filet Mignon with Crispy Shiso Leaf and a selection of the desserts.
The photographs tell the story. The food at Chi Lin is beautiful to look at, delicious to eat.

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