Sam’s Unique Diner, 4721 Chino Hills Parkway (at Monte Vista), Chino Hills
Don’t let the name fool you: Sam’s Unique Diner is not a hash house with a waitress named Flo but rather a Chinese restaurant, and a stylish one. It opened in the Commons shopping center a few weeks ago.
The entry looks like a hotel and the dining room has a chandelier.
I was there for a group lunch recently and ordered off the lunch menu, not dissimilar from that of many Chinese restaurants. I got the most exotic sounding item, twice cooked pork ($8, below), and liked it. But the restaurant, I could tell, was better than the orange chicken, kung pao chicken and other standbys on the lunch menu.
So I returned for a weekend lunch with a friend. We had westlake beef soup ($11, not pictured); yam with blueberries ($10, below); beef with cumin ($14, second photo below); and fish filet with vegetables ($11, third photo below).
The yam item was the only one we thought was just okay. The white yams had a taste like jicama. Pleasant, but dull.
I love cumin dishes and beef with cumin did not disappoint. The soup was good as well and we liked the light, moist tilapia in the fish filet.
The expansive restaurant has private dining rooms and a covered patio for groups. It’s said to have Sichuan, Cantonese and Shanghai-style cuisine. Chino Hills has a number of authentic Chinese restaurants and Sam’s is among the best, and in what may be the most spectacular restaurant setting in the city.