Location: 2709 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 392-9025
Date: May 6, 2016 and August 5, 2021
Cuisine: Asian Fusion
Rating: Still good decades later
When I first moved to LA 22 years ago, Chinois was already a vibrant pillar of LA’s hot high end dining scene. It represented the kind of cool “fusion” of east/west cuisines that was so novel at the time, and almost never seen (by me) back on the East Coast.
From my cellar: 2003 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. VM 95. Light yellow. Powerful, complex bouquet evokes fresh peach, pear, floral honey, green almond and smoky minerals. Deep, palate-staining citrus and orchard fruit flavors show outstanding vivacity for a hot vintage, picking up ginger and talc notes with air. The strikingly long, sappy finish features zesty orange pith, smoky minerals and an echo of honeysuckle. I’d be in no rush to drink this one. Speaking of waiting, I had the chance to revisit the 2000 Vintage Krug and it has begun to pick up the smoky, weighty and nutty character that long-time fans of this producer crave. It’s still plenty young but already unmistakably Krug, with a chewy texture and a sexy floral nuance dominating right now.
Stir fried Sonoma lamb with crispy garlic and mint.
Shanghai lobster with curry sauce and crispy spinach. This classic has been on the menu forever (or at least since the mid 90s). It was still my favorite of the night. There is a whole bunch of fried rice under the lobster with the tail meat.
In 2016 the duck came with steamed bao.
Stir fried green beans with black bean sauce and garlic. A great version of this dish.
Dessert tease. We were too full to order any (in 2016)
But we got a whole tray in Aug 2021.
Macadamian Nut Tart.
Flourless chocolate cake.
Pots au Creme.
Overall, in 2016 Chinois still has a sharp kitchen and good service. They were a little slow refilling the wine (which they had shoved in a chiller on the other side of the room — I had to grab it and do it myself). No biggy though. Food was fairly on point if no where near as “innovative” as it was 20+ years ago. Some of the dishes were still super tasty though like the lobster and string beans. Of course it’s way more expensive than “unfused” Chinese (aka normal SGV style Chinese). I think the decor has aged great and is actually more unique now.
In 2021, we ate outside because of the pandemic. Except for the busy traffic just past the barrier on main street, this was quite nice. Service was still great and food was on point for what it is.
Wines from August 2021: