Ms. Chi Café (Culver City): A Pictorial Essay


#1

Ms. Chi Café, now in soft opening, represents the first of several upcoming ventures for Chef Shirley Chung. Located in the former Hanjip space in Downtown Culver City, I couldn’t resist any eatery offering breakfast with a Chinese flair!

Overall, the restaurant space is cheery, with sidewalk seating while the interior dining room is naturally lit, with bright colors. Breakfast service is casual, I think… I pause here because it appears that the customer orders food and drinks at the counter, pays for it, and then is given a number, after which I find a table to sit down. The server then brings the food to the table. Yet, I wasn’t told that I had to walk across the length of the dining room to get my own glass of water, utensils and napkin (the servers apparently act only as runners for the food/drinks). Not a problem to serve myself, but then I noticed that there is a suggested post hoc gratuity of 18% to 20% at the bottom of my receipt (luckily, not automatically added). Nothing awful, mind you, but just a bit confusing.


Black Sesame Latte: Tasty, albeit a mild light on the sesame side.

Fried Wonton (sage sausage, scrambled eggs, chili ketchup): Nice flavors here! Good bites. You get 6 pieces for $7 (more than $1 a wonton), but I think it’s worth it. The chili ketchup is definitely on the mild side.

Hot Dog Bao (Kosher hot dog, steamed milk bread): Not sure if this was milk bread, ‘cuz it was more reminiscent of standard bao dough with embedded scallions. Not bad, but not really greater than the sum of its parts.

Breakfast Bao (fried egg, cheddar cheese, bacon): It’s your standard breakfast Egg McMuffin, but with (again) bao dough with scallions instead of English muffin. Would have been messier (but nicer) if the fried egg yolk was made runny (over easy).

Scallion Scones (five spice): OK OK I get it - More scallions! By the way the menu says ‘sconeS”, but I just got one large scone - I didn’t mind it at all, but just know each order comes with one scone, not a plurality of scones.

Tea Eggs (soy, star anise, jasmine green tea): I just got one egg, not eggS. And the egg was very difficult to peel, and on top of that, the yolk was runny. I brought it to the attention of Jimmy (FOH). He was very apologetic about it and returned me money on this one. I hope that the kitchen can eventually nail that tea egg - it’s hard to find a good tea egg on the Westside.

Hong Kong Minced Beef (soft egg, tater tots, crispy garlic): Delicious! I really loved this combination. But I think the delicious beef in this dish reminded me far more of Macanese minchee than anything in the HK repertoire. But anyways, this is likely THE signature dish to get here for breakfast.

Black Sesame Mochi Donut: Enjoyable. The mochi was satisfying to the chew, and the sesame topping complements the donut well.

Please note that Ms. Chi Café is in soft opening, and the chef is undoubtedly still tweaking the dishes (it’s all about finesse, you know!). At this time though, I’m not sure adding some scallions to the bao dough without any noticeable hint of salt necessarily adds much to the flavor of these fusion presentations.

Yet there are nice dishes here, such as the Hong Kong minced beef and fried wontons. Ms. Chi Café deserves a detour for breakfast. After Grand Opening, I am eager to return and try lunch and dinner service later (Beijing zhajiangmian - woohoo!)

Ms. Chi Café
3829 Main St.
Culver City, CA 90232
424.361.5225
mschicafe.com


#2

Cheese burger dumpling (skip this)

Cold sesame noodle. Seems like the noodles are made in house. This is better


#3

Appreciate the report. The use of plural nouns when the dish only contains a single item would actually be a big prob for me…


#4

Is the mochi donut all mochi or is it a flour/dough base with mochi in it?


#5

All mochi, but somehow it retains doughnut shape. It’s a technological mystery.


#6

4 posts were split to a new topic: How to peel hard boiled eggs


#10

5 posts were merged into an existing topic: How to peel hard boiled eggs


#11

Enjoyed a tasty lunch at Ms. Chi’s in Culver City the other day.

Mapo tofu was solid. Not the best rendition I’ve ever had but surprisingly good for vegan. The crispy garlic on top was a nice touch that provided some textural contrast.

The stars of the show were the potstickers. Very flavorful and well fried.

Here’s the undercarriage shot:

If Shirley Chung wants to educate LA peeps about real Chinese food, I’m not sure Ms. Chi’s does that. But if the goal is to serve a tasty meal, I think it delivers.


#12

Wanted to try more of the menu and give the place another shot. Not pictured is a cold brew coffee which was excellent (not sure where they source from but yum). Felt like the thickness issue from earlier was fixed in this case & the filling was juicy. In the sando I wanted more green onion in the pancake but it held up and had a nice light flaky texture. The pastrami was a surprise nicely smokey and good flavor. It would have been nice to have something spicy with it. Over all It’s not worth going out of your way for but if you are in the area it’s a good option.

Chicken jaozi

ms.chi sando with Pastrami


#13

Those may be the thickest dumpling wrappers I’ve ever seen! The ones in previous posts looked fine. And do they really call it a “sando”?


#14

That thickness of wrap is the standard in Northern Chinese dumplings. But as for putting chicken meat as filling into them, well that’s anathema… :slight_smile:


#15

But as I wrote, the ones in the above posts didn’t look that thick.


#16

The texture of the wrappers was much better than my previous visit and there was more consistency of thickness as well which was a problem on the previous visit.


#17

I called it a sando. Do you have a problem with that?


#18

Rather than express an opinion on your question, I’ll offer you some alternatives. (I’ve never quite understood slang that’s the same number of syllables as the original word but…)

http://urbanthesaurus.org/synonyms/sandwich


#19

I, too, call it a sando at times.

I had no choice. They arrived right before you did. I’m sorry.


#20

So are you talking about the katsu sando?


#21

Had brunch here yesterday. Two coffees (some of the strongest coffee ever - I take it strong but this was Ronnie Coleman strong), a boba tea (jasmine/passionfruit), chicken jiaozi, marinated cucumber salad, Hong Kong minced beef/coddled egg on rice, cold sesame noodles, brown rice “oatmeal” with chicken/coddled egg, chocolate frosted and black sesame seed mochi donuts.

Some of the dishes seemed pretty true to being Chinese while some were hybridized. All were executed well. The mochi donuts were not of the Mister Donut type (famous donut chain in Japan) in consistancy - far more dense - but still interesting. The black sesame one tasted more of subtle cinnamon than black sesame. This place obviously cares about the quality of their dishes. I think it really comes down to personal preference and whether or not true tradition is sought after.

As for educating many (in the complexity of and) to Chinese cuisine in general, I think it’s more of a gradiated intro for most. While I feel I’m still a novice to “authentic” and traditional foods of the Chinese culture, I think I’ve had enough to know that the majority of these dishes pick certain parts of traditional Chinese techniques and ingredients and fusionize many of the dishes, making the menu more approachable to the more uninitiated.

Eateries that are more “educational” in traditional Chinese cuisine have been thankfully showing up in the Westside for a number of years now, elevated by Szechuan Impression. But Cilantro microgreens probably are rare in traditional Chinese dishes - period. It is this this kind of attention to detail here that exemplify Ms. Chi’s focus on taste. I’d bet a dime to mochi donuts that if Ms. Chi decided to create a more traditional Chinese menu, she could do so with serious impression.


#22

Stopped by for dinner last Saturday.

Chicken Jiaozi:


These were for the kiddo so I asked for the sauce to be on the side to avoid any possibility of this being too spicy, otherwise these would have been served with the sauce mixed over everything. The taste was mild—nothing special. My son seemed to enjoy them so that’s all that mattered here.

Vegan Garden dumplings:


I appreciate the plant-based dumpling offering but these were just ok as the flavors were muted and the texture was monotone. Hard to describe, honestly, but I was bored of eating these after a few bites. The sauced added some interest but otherwise these were underwhelming.

Whole roasted cauliflower.


My favorite item of the night. Nicely cooked — tender down to the stem area. The herb and onion sauce provide a great tangy contrast.

Cold sesame noodles:


These were good – maybe on par with offerings I’ve had in the SGV.

Hedgehog bao with molten chocolate, vanilla ice cream:


The server mentioned this was the only dessert available.
I’d be willing to bet that the bao was cooked earlier in the day then refrigerated or frozen, then reheated in the microwave prior to service. Otherwise congrats to the kitchen for replicating that freshly-microwaved texture :frowning:. The molten chocolate inside had bits that were lumpy. Not good. Vanilla ice cream was tasty but it’s scoop and serve.

I really wanted to like this place but it was overall a disappointment. Bummer because I really enjoyed Ms Chi’s mapo tofu at the Fields. Service was very good so at least they have that going for them.


#23

hahahaha - it is kind of astonishing how far a nice smile and some TV exposure can carry a chef.