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Dec 7, 2009 05:13 AM

Lunch at Jin in Saugus

My 3 year old decided she wanted to have lunch in "that Chinese Castle" so we pulled in about noon on a Thursday and it was deserted. There were a couple of cars in what I guessed to be the employee parking area and the sign said OPEN. She really wanted to go in so I figured we could look around, since the decor is great.

We went upstairs and there was not a soul to be found, although I could hear some banging around in the kitchen. We looked around a bit and decided to leave but at that point someone came out and sai the credit card machine wasn't working, but they were open if we could pay in cash. I would have rather left but my daughter was determined to eat there, so we sat down in the cavernous empty restaurant. I'd normally hate doing that sort of thing but a chatty 3 year old is good for keeping you occupied enough to not dwell on the absurdity of having this mammoth restaurant to yourself. Another table of 2 or 3 people came in about 3/4 through our meal.

The servers were all friendly. I was surprised at the menu, because I remembered it being much more interesting... although the last time I was in there was probably 3 or 4 years ago and that might have been the previous owners. Their website shows both Mandarin and Cantonese menus but what they brought us looked like what I've come to think of as a very Americanized Chinese menu, with Chow Mein, Lo Mein, Egg Foo Young, Chop Suey and Sweet and Sour prominently featured. The other table was Asian and I heard them ordering shu mai, which was definitely not an option on the menu I was given. That bugged me a bit, but I suppose given where they are located in Saugus, the non-Asian clientele is probably, for the most part, happy enough with Pu Pu Platters. I could have asked, I suppose.

Bearing in mind the non-existent volume of the restaurant, I wondered what they could be using for ingredients, but perhaps dinner is busy, because what we got was fairly fresh. The Roast Pork Lo Mein was actually pretty good. The Sesame Chicken was coated with an oddly thick and chewy batter, and the chicken came in long strips. It looked a bit like chicken tenders with some sauce over broccoli. It was fine, though.

The brought us fried sesame balls with the check, which my daughter loved and declared her favorite part of the meal. She'a already telling me we're going back.

Are they busy at other times? I sure hope so. I can't imagine they can stay open otherwise.

Jin Asian Cuisine Restaurant & Caterer
20 Bennett Highway, Saugus, MA 01906

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  1. they are really busy on the weekends. I think you got the "american menu". They have an extensive "chinese menu" heavy on the cantonese dishes. We go there every other week either for dim sum or a family style sunday dinner. For us it is convenient and the closest decent Cantonese food to our house (we keep trying Su Changs and it isn't as good as it used to be). Last time at Jin's we ordered salt and pepper squid, HK pork chops (not sure what the menu name of this is though), salted chicken, scallop fried rice, black bean beef and fish maw soup. All very decent. Highly do not reccomend saturday nights there are usually 1-2 weddings going on at the same time and the food isn't as good when they are that busy.

      1. re: ScubaSteve

        Yikes, I had that feeling when they said the credit card machines were down.

        1. re: Chris VR

          too bad.. it was really convenient in comparison to going to chinatown or quincy for cantonese.

          1. re: noodlely

            Someone needs to open a cantonese restaurant north of boston that has dim sum and serves traditional cantonese family food on the northshore. This place was usually packed on the weekends.

      2. New article in today's Globe on-line. I guess it was inevitable. Like other locations all along Rt. 1...

        3 Replies
        1. re: Gio


          "...a new lessee will take over the space, with plans to open a new restaurant shortly after the new year."

          1. re: Chris VR

            I am rooting for dim sum. Our other local option china pearl in woburn leaves a lot to be desired and always has a line on the weekends.

            1. re: noodlely

              Really? I find China Pearl Woburn to be excellent. I much prefer it over China Pearl Boston. Maybe 5-6 less items but everything is always hot/fresh. No tolls, free parking and less line then Boston.

              One time i had dimsum at Jin, i thought it was horrible. Cheap/skimped ingredients and unfresh.