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