Shi-Foo Chinese Food, 12198 Central Ave. (at Philadelphia), Chino; also 15942 Los Serranos Country Club Drive, Chino Hills
Hungry before a council meeting in Chino, I figured I could find something along Central Avenue, vaguely recalling the location of a pho restaurant. I pulled into a center just above the 60 Freeway with Goodwill and 99 Cents Only stores as its main tenants and realized I’d been here once before, trying a Japanese restaurant, Bento Box. This wasn’t the center with Pho Express.
But a couple of doors down from Bento Box was something named Shi-Foo, with this motto: “Chinese Food Remastered.”
Remastered? Would there be bonus tracks? It was just unusual-sounding enough to entice this music fan to enter.
It looks like a typical quick-service Chinese restaurant, and in fact was a Happy Wok previously. They have steam table stuff if you’re in a hurry, chow mein and beef broccoli and orange chicken, all of which I bypassed — which is not to dismiss it. The menu says they use non-GMO cooking oil and that the orange chicken is made with real oranges, with no corn syrup.
I went with the create-your-own-entree option, where you choose a protein, sauce and side. I went with shrimp with garlic sauce and brown rice ($10.50). In a bonus, there was a 5 percent discount for cash customers. As a guy who pays with cash, this was the first time I’d saved money by doing so, which put a spring in my step as I walked to my table.
My food was made fresh and was ready in a few minutes. My goodness, it smelled good, very garlicky, and there were — I counted — 14 shrimp. They did not skimp on the shrimp. It tasted as good as it looked and smelled.
Shi Foo was a pleasant surprise, one of those places you enter on a whim, knowing nothing, and walk out thinking you’ve made a find, in part because you had no expectations. But I think I would like it on a second visit even with my expectations raised.
My fortune, reproduced below, was slightly mysterious, as a Chinese fortune should be, due primarily to what might (or might not!) be a superfluous comma. Exactly how much time will this decision require, anyway? I’d better get started.