- Bao de chicharon at Chino in San Francisco.
Chino, which opened in May in San Francisco’s Mission District, is a celebration of exuberant street food — Asian-cum-Tacolicious style.
That’s not surprising given that the playful Chinese-inspired restaurant is by the same team behind Tacolicious, which boasts four locations now, plus a Williams-Sonoma sauce and salsa line, and a cookbook publishing this September.
The team that brought you “Shot-and-A-Beer Braised Chicken Tacos” and the “Chocolicious Taco” now offer at its newest venture the likes of “Snacky Whacky” small plates such as “Cucumbers, All Busted Up” and “Nick Balla’s Dope Ass Japan-O-Mission Wings,” the latter the creation of the famed Bar Tartine chef who’s an authority on Japanese cuisine, among others.
In much the same way that proceeds from Tacolicious’ sauce line benefit local schools, all Tacolicious locations plus the new Chino donate 15 percent of sales each Monday night during the school year to a neighboring school.
Recently, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, which was hopping even mid-week. The decor mimics a night market in Asia with nearly 1,000 lights strung across the ceiling. If you look closely, you’ll even spot a couple pairs of sneakers dangling from them — a familiar tableau from an Anywheresville working-class neighborhood. Adding to the whimsy are nostalgic toys such as Mr. Potato Head and a Darth Vader mask arranged on shelves by the big-screen TV on the wall.
Paper lanterns mimic the vibe of an Asian street market.
Can you spot the sneakers hanging from the ceiling?
The bare tables have a clever built-in canister with dividers to neatly hold chopsticks and silverware. House-made hot mustard and chili paste are brought to the table for those who like it hot.
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