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do you love Chinois on Main?

  • l

Hi all,
I'm looking to take my husband somewhere we've never been (and also not too far from our home in Venice as we're going away early the next morning) for his birthday. Somehow, we've never made it to Chinois in our five years living in the area. A quick search finds Chinois recommended as part of general lists of favorites or nice dinner recs, but I don't find much in the way of recent detailed write-ups. It's expensive, so I'd like to know if it gets some solid recommendations (or not).
Also, if two of us went, would we be better off ordering several appetizers in order to get a better sampling or are there must-have entrees?

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  1. Portions are huge, so I don't know that I'd call it expensive. Favorites are the spicy beef and the chicken salad.

    I eat there all the time, absolutely love it, it's as good as it's ever been.

    1. my favorite dish at chinois is the whole deep fried catfish. i order it every time.

      5 Replies
        1. re: rednyellow

          imho, not any more.
          the catfish size appears to have been reduced.

          1. re: westsidegal

            I noticed that last time. Maybe fish are just getting smaller these days, witness the blue fin tuna.

            1. re: mnosyne

              catfish are farm-raised.
              the only reason they would be <<getting smaller these days>> would be because they are being harvested earlier.

              1. re: westsidegal

                My reference to the blue fin is that, because of overfishing, the remaining fish ARE smaller, and are being taken at weights well below those of a few years ago. The catfish reference is a jest!

      1. Someone correct me if I'm mistaken, but I just don't think that this is a good place to go with a party of two. And I love the restaurant. But the two-tops are small and the portions are large. You aren't going to be able to finish several appetizers. Lots of them are bigger than the entrees. Even best case, the restaurant will not show in its best light. So plan ahead next time, grab a couple of friends, and get one of the round tables near the window up front. You will have a much better time. If it's Puck you want to try for his birthday, Spago and Cut are much better choices. There are plenty of great places nearby. If it's last minute, you may want to think about someplace like Gjelina or Sushi Zo where two will have a much better chance of squeezing in at the communal table or sushi bar...

        3 Replies
        1. re: JE33

          While you are logically correct about small tops, if you can get a larger table my wife and I like to order more food than we can eat in one sitting. This way we get the variety to take advantage of a restaurant like this and we take most of it home for a couple of other meals from the leftovers.

          1. re: JE33

            I dine there solo from time-to-time and my favorites are the fried oysters and the Shanghai lobster with curried rice.

            1. re: JE33

              went to chinois tonight for dinner. party of two.
              we ordered two entrees and one vegetable dish and one dessert.
              all were terrific.
              the service was terrific.
              absolutely a wonderful meal

            2. Try the curried oysters and the scallop salad. I really like the whole fried catfish, but others disagree.

              1. I really like Chinois -- bold flavors, fun decor, excellent service. I agree that you can keep costs down and have more fun ordering mostly or all small plates. The two don't-miss entrees are those mentioned above, the sliced filet in szechwan sauce and the whole deepfried catfish with ponzu. I sometimes really enjoy sitting at the rear counter looking into the open kitchen. Give it a try and report back.

                  1. It's wonderful for two people and definately my choice when in the area.
                    I love the catfish. The kitchen is consistent and the food is outstanding.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: latindancer

                      OK, so it sounds like the consensus is it's ok for two and it's a great spot. (I appreciate the other recs, but we go to Gjelina all the time and have already been to Spago.)

                      So since everyone is saying that the portions are SO huge, would you say get two apps and one entree and a side? I really don't want to completely overorder, but I also want to try enough things. Also, I don't eat meat, so we'd be sharing seafood and vegetarian dishes only, but it seems like seafood is mostly what's being recommended here.
                      Thanks and I'll report back!

                      1. re: lsla

                        You don't HAVE to place your entire order at once, the dishes are designed to be shared; therefore, you don't have to worry about over ordering. If I''m there with 3 people or less, I/we always sit at the counter in front of the open kitchen. And by sitting at the counter you might see a dish being prepared that really appeals to you.

                        ..." two apps and one entree and a side"... That sounds about right, or it could be 1 app and 2 entries, but for the side order - I've always enjoyed the duck fried rice and taken home whatever is left over.

                        1. re: JBC

                          We never order more than one dish at a time and share everything. It is always just the two of us. Classic dishes - deep-fried oysters, yellowtail sashimi, tempura ahi tuna, the catfish, lobster, Roast Cantonese duck with bao, fried rice.

                          For some pics see here:

                          1. re: lizziee

                            Thanks to all for the recs! And thanks, lizziee, for the link to your pics. I'll take your advice on having them plate it too. Going tonight. I'll report back next week.

                            1. re: lsla

                              Sorry for the delay in response. We did enjoy Chinois and ordered one thing at a time as was recommended. We really enjoyed the ahi tuna as well as a special soft shell crab they were serving. the veggie fried rice was also great. I'm about to go against what pretty much everyone here recommended, but we were disappointed with the deep-fried catfish. For the price ($36 I think?) there was very little actual fish to eat, though the presentation was neat. I'd go back, but wouldn't go for the catfish again.

                    2. Its as good as ever. The whole fried catfish is not to miss.

                      1. the Shanghai lobster is something you'll remember your entire life.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: OC Mutt

                          I'm heading back again tonight for the Blackboard eats special. Which seafood entree should I go for? The lobster then? How much is it, approximately?

                          1. re: lsla

                            I was there last week for the Blackboard Eats special and the lobster was $45. They also had a special asian short rib that was amazing. The Roasted Cantonese duck with fresh plum sauce and steamed bao is wonderful.