First Look: Chino Chinatown

chino3by Steven Doyle

Trinity Groves has shaped up to be one of the premier foodie destinations in Dallas over the past year. It was nearly one year ago when we spoke with Phil Romano as he laid out the plans and aspirations for for his patch of land just beyond the beautiful and newly inaugurated Margaret Hunt-Hill Bridge. Since that time much of what Romano promised has come to fruition in the form of a handful of unique incubator restaurants. Today marks the opening of yet another concept in Chino Chinatown, the brainchild of Uno Immanivong and Adrian Verdin.    


You know Uno from the television program The Taste where she embarked on a culinary battle with the guidance of Anthony Bourdain. The rising chef fared extremely well and took away a good amount of public adoration, and has been featured on a hefty amount of morning news programs since, both local and national. While busily preparing for her restaurant opening, Uno has also performed catering duties across the city including pop up dinners and even several gigs inside a food truck. More recently she took top honors at the Trinity Groves Fork Fight, the tasty bracket-style competition between fellow chefs that have all since opened in Trinity Groves. These tastings have given potential Chino diners a foreshadowing of flavors to come. Chino is to be a fun Latin-Asian fusion, reflecting both Uno and Adrian’s background.

We have come to know Adrian Verdin as this single-focused perfectionist who enjoys both the culinary and cocktail aspect to the restaurant. He attended UNT’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management on scholarship and opened his first restaurant at the age of 21. He currently co-owns a real estate brokerage firm, but was pulled back in to his passion when his corporate clients began to request  his catering services. He established Crave catering (not related but we like the name) and has been doing corporate events for the last several years.  Adrian also owns a production company that specialized in food and beverage programming. Hados Entertainment has recently created a pilot based cocktail movement featuring world renowned mixologist, Jason Kosmas as the host.


Together the partners employed barman Ian Reilly to create the cocktail menu, along with some assistance from Jason Kosmas. Since that time Ian has been enlisted as the restaurant’s General Manager and has taken on cocktail professionals from Bar Smyth and Cedars Social. Needless to say, the drink menu is well rounded and insanely delicious.

The wait for Chino’s opening has finally come to an end as they open their doors this evening. Reservations have been snapped up and is mostly booked for the first evening service. Open Table shows a 5pm reservation available for this evening. Fortunately, we were allowed a sneak preview and have a few photos below.

Happily we can offer that the execution lives up to the hype both in service and on the plate. It was exciting to see the team banging out the dishes in the very open glassed in kitchen. The Chino kitchen team, including Uno, worked as a hive and the plates arrived quickly and beautiful as expected.


chino2Duck Fat Fries

Look for starters such as elotes, the street corn laced with sriracha aioli, cilantro and queso fresco, as well as tasty duck fat fries with a house-made sriracha ketchup, garlic and cotija cheese.

There is a shared plate section is beefy with some incredible dishes that could make up an entire meal for one or for a fun group outing. The Larb Gai is the spoonful of flavor that excelled Uno on The Taste. The rack of spoons are filled with minced chicken, kaffir lime chicharones, cilantro and lime. The spoonful of loving is fresh and bright. The Cochinita Pibil Steamed Buns are also an eyeful with a lovely plating, but these are meant to be devoured at a steady pace.

DSC09479Larb Gai

DSC09484Cochinita Pibil Steamed Buns

DSC09483Duck Fat Fried Rice

One of our very favorite small plate dishes is the Duck Fat Fried Rice that is served with shrimp, Chinese sausage and bits of BBQ pork, all plated in searingly hot cast iron and topped with a sunny side up egg that is meant to be broken and mixed into the rice. This rice is haunting. We loved how the cast iron gave the underbelly of the rice a crisped texture, not too unlike paella. A true flavor bomb. We also enjoyed the Lobster Shooters were a fun surprise. The four large shot glasses are are presented table-side filled with large shards of lobster  and filled with the rich and creamy brother. There was plenty of lobster to go around.

Large plates are more difficult to share, and that is a good thing. There are two enormous bowls of soup in both Chino’s signature Phozole made with a three-day bone marrow broth, oxtail and packed with plenty of the requisite hominy. Extremely soothing, especially during these wintry evenings where the chill can be sliced through with each slurpy spoonful. The ramen is a kicked up version loaded with barbacoa and Uno’s own gochujang bone marrow butter. The butter is dabbed into the soup and mixed in table-side for added flavor that is spicy and rich.


DSC09490Membrillo Glazed Duck Breast

The rare duck breast is served sliced on a bed of fried rice (yes, that rice) with a membrillo glaze. Membrillo is a slightly tart quince paste found in Spanish cookery and gives the duck a desired sticky patina.

The miso and Thai chili sea bass is tender and flaky as you would expect, and served with Chinese broccoli. Another must order.

For dessert try the Mexican Chocolate Cake loaded with coconut, pecans and a mole ganache. Also look to a chocolate fortune cookie created by chocolatier Kate Weiser who will be opening her sop up in Trinity Groves this spring.

Trinity Groves is popping most evenings with plenty of dining options to tantalize. Chino is one more jewel in this otherwise delicious crown.

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