Chino has undergone a reboot after being open just over a year. The Mission restaurant — hopefully named as a play on “China” and not the Inland Empire city of Chino (best known for its two sizable prisons) — opened this week with a full facelift. The changes actively being discussed surround the new chef and new menu, which I will address. However, there’s one issue which, much to my surprise, hasn’t been touched yet.
What’s with the logo?
[jump] I have to wonder why it’s modeled after BART’s logo. Many people associate BART with the stench of urine, elevators that reliably never function, and seats that almost singlehandedly fund the hand sanitizer industry. These are not characteristics I imagine a restaurant would want to advertise, so perhaps there is some fundamental BART experience that I’m missing.
I assume the logo serves as a shout-out to an exclusively Bay Area experience, but it seems like more than homage when the font and color scheme are exactly the same as BART's, with Chino’s added border the only discernibly unique factor.
Fortunately my confusion about their imagery is beside the point, because Chino has a lot of major changes that don’t cause cognitive dissonance.
Their new menu boasts dishes that are an appetizing fusion of Chinese and Californian cuisine, a result of Chef-partner Ron Pei (a Shandong native) joining the team. Though I’m not personally enticed by the prospect of $6 peanuts, Pei’s recently unretired father makes a fish & leek dumpling dish ($12) that absolutely piques my interest.
Unlike the logo, which I’m clearly having trouble reconciling, most everything on the menu appears inventive and delightful, from bar manager Danny Louie’s edible cocktail ($13) to the night market-style fried chicken yum yum snack ($10) found in the First Bites section.
Owner Joe Hargrave made it clear the Chino team is committed to bringing top notch food to San Francisco when he told Eater, “technically it's always done well, as in fiscally well, but the food's just been OK. We didn't set out to be just OK.”
Have you tried the new menu? Are you bummed about losing the old Chino? Does the logo confuse you, too? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.