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Chin's Asia Fresh

Update 7/29/12: Chin's Asia Fresh on State St. has closed.

In a word: "Asian the whole office can agree on," and all that implies.

The specs: #0077
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Chin's web site; Chin's Asia Fresh on Urbanspoon

Latest Chin's Asia Fresh news and reviews

JM ate the Classic Sesame Chicken with brown rice. His fortune said, "Good advice is beyond price."
Nichole ate the potstickers and a small portion of the 10-Ingredient Fried Rice. Her fortune said, "You are talented in many ways."
The bill was $15, or $7.50/person, but they left off JM's fountain drink.
JM gave Chin's a B; Nichole gave Chin's a B+ (see our grading rubric).

In the 1950's, there was a move to make food a little bit more convienient.  The Interstates were being developed and fresh foods could be shipped great distances (Thanks to the truck farmer).  It was at this time that the first "fast" food restaurants appeared. 

Good old American food was best suited to this approach: burgers, stuff dipped in fry medium, apple pie (also dipped in fry medium).  As time progressed, people wanted the same things from "ethnic" foods and thus Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Happy Wok filled these niches.

The problem with these restaurants was - and is - that the food isn't very good.

Enter the more upscale restaurant. Red Robin and Chili's cater to people who like to be waited on but still just want a burger, fast.  When it came to "ethnic" dishes, however, the only ones that tasted any good were from "authentic" restaurants, i.e. mom-and-pop places, run by people cooking from their own recipes. And in general, these people simply didn't live in the suburbs.  So what's the upscale suburbanite with a yen for ethnic food to do?

Enter the likes of Chin's Asia Fresh.  Here's an Asian cuisine that underpaid high school students can create and still appeals, in a very Noodles & Co. style, to the upscale market of the upper Midwest. That's our amateur take on fast food history; here's another.

The food at Chin's was decent all around, if not remarkable. The mix-and-match stir fry was on par with something anyone with a jar of grocery-brand teriyaki sauce could make at home.

However, the whole thing felt like it had been scrubbed clean.  It's more like "Asian the whole office can agree on" (pdf) or "Asian you can take your picky six year old to" or "Asian for people who don't like to take risks." As such, Chin's achieves just what it sets out to do.

There's nothing wrong with any of those reasons to eat at Chin's.  We'll probably return someday.  But "Blondes. Bling. Vitamin B2," their current ad campaign, has more to do with Suburbia than with an Asian menu.

As an aside, the last Asian-themed chain we visited has closed. Like Chin's, they departed from tradition and served Coke. Huh.


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