When we think about Wolfgang Puck's restaurants, we think about Spago, Cut, or his chain of bistros. Rarely does Chinois come to mind. I find Chinois to be more discrete and hidden then most of his other restaurants but special nonetheless. Wolfgang Puck has found a winning combination of Asian flavors and French technique with a bit of California flair. This Asian-fusion restaurant has an open kitchen so you can see the chef prepare your meal and everyone else's. I find this to be helpful when ordering because you can see what people like and what's popular on the menu. Another nice thing is that the restaurant is open for lunch or dinner and is affordable. A 4 course chef's choice menu (for lunch) only costs 37.50 per person. I recommend visiting the Santa Monica Farmer's Market and heading down to Chinois for a nice lunch. Here is what I ate:
1. Chinois Chicken salad- a variation on the Chinese Chicken salad but with a creamy dressing
2. Crab Cakes topped with jumbo shrimp and lobster sauce- DELICIOUS!
3. Grilled Szechwan Beef with a shallot-cilantro sauce- Super tasty.
4. Whole Sizzling Catfish with Ginger and Ponzu sauce- Very impresssive, I usually don't like catfish but the flavors were spot on.
5. Stir-fried haricots verts with black bean sauce and garlic- probably the best Asian vegetable side dish I have ever had- not an exaggeration.
6. An array of desserts including 3 different flavors of creme brulee, a macadamia nut tart, banana cake, chocolate cake with whipped cream and chocolate cookies.
After eating my scrumptious meal, my group had a chance to talk to the staff. Most of the people working there- the waitstaff, line cooks, the pastry chef, the manager, and the head chef-most have been there for 15 years or more. To me, a restaurant is only as good as the people who work there. These people really love what their doing and in turn make Chinois the pleasant eatery it is today.