When I was on my last trip to Los Angeles to visit my family, my parents and I visited Ms Chi Cafe in Culver City. It opened late last year to much fanfare.
Why you ask? Because Ms Chi Cafe is Top Chef contestant Chef Shirley Chung’s first stand alone restaurant and fans were rightfully excited to taste her food. It’s one thing tasting through your tv screen, but another to actually smell, chew, and savor it in person. Chef Shirley Chung was runner up on season 14 of Top Chef for those of you who are note familiar with her. To say I was excited would be an understatement. Top Chef is one of my favorite things in the world. And she was awesome to watch.
Inside was starting to get packed around lunch time on a Sunday. Unfortunately for us, Chef Shirley was not cooking that day as she was away on a book tour. As a consolation prize, we did have another fellow Top Chef alum cooking in the kitchen for us in Travis Masar. We’ll take it!
Yeeaaaahhhhs! Black sesame anything please. This was so good. Perfect amount of bitterness, sweetness, and nuttiness. The cup was ginormous too. They offered to reheat it mid meal. Who does that? They do!
My mom went with the more fresh green tea. And refreshing it was. I could only pick out apples as the seasonal fruits but there may have been something else bobbing around in there.
This dish won her a Top Chef challenge. Maybe I was a little too hyped for this one. It was pretty good, but not crazy mouth wateringly delicious. Although, after closing my eyes and thinking back, they were pretty juicy and were reminiscent of a very juicy cheeseburger. Three pieces for $10 didn’t help the cause. I think 5 pieces is about right for $10.
The regular pork potstickers were also pretty good. Again, price is a little on the high side for dumplings, but not terrible. For reference, Din Tai Fung has 10 pork and shrimp dumplings for around $11.75.
Here’s the inside shot with a good amount of filling.
We wanted to get some sort of vegetable and our server recommended the cauliflower. The dish was light and had a little bit of sourness to it. It helped break up the meat heavy meal and gave us some much needed texture.
Lastly, we got the crispy chicken. It definitely reminded me of the chicken you find at a regular Chinese banquet style restaurant which is served with a side of salt. The chicken itself was moist and didn’t really need any extra seasoning. Still, I do always like to dip my chicken into green onion and ginger sauce ala Hainan chicken.
Of course I wish Chef Shirley Chung was there to cook and oversee everything in the kitchen. But celebrity chef’s are busy and are not always around when you visit their restaurant. Everything we had was pretty tasty, but nothing stood out as something I need to come back for, especially when considering the price. With the cost of rent, I get why they probably need to charge a little more. On the service side of things, everyone was well trained and very nice. It was a pleasant visit.
Chef Shirley’s husband was out and about in the restaurant making sure service was going smooth. My parents are so friendly and my dad in particular likes to joke around with people. Somehow he honed in on him and told a few really bad jokes I wish he kept to himself. Now what would have been really embarrassing is if Chef Shirley was there and heard my dad’s jokes. Maybe it was a good thing she wasn’t present…
Ms Chi Cafe
3829 Main St
Culver City, CA 90232