Monday, January 19, 2015

Chia Sen, Scarborough, Maine

We were recently talking to a neighbor about Chinese restaurants in the area and she recommended Chia Sen on Payne Road.  It is next to the AT&T store, near Bull Moose, not too far from the Maine Mall.  We were in the area and thought we would give it a shot.

As we walked to the front door, the signs, “Fine Dining,” and “Chinese Cuisine,” promised a wonderful meal.  We were moderately disappointed when we didn’t see tablecloths, which are part of our definition of “fine dining.”  However, we were pleasantly greeted and brought to a nice table.

It took a long time for the waiter to stop by.  We ordered waters with lemon.  Because Chia Sen also has a full bar, we decided to order a couple “Bloody Mary’s.”  The waters were dropped off quickly and the waiter left without a word – Presumably to go to the bar to get our drinks.  The waters did not have the lemon, as we had asked for.  The “Bloody Mary’s” took quite a while longer to arrive.  When they did arrive, they were quite bland.  I’d have called them  “tomato juice with vodka,” and not much vodka.  It took quite a while for the waiter to finally return to take our orders.  He was busy but it seemed there were several other wait staff that weren’t doing much. 

Orange Beef at Chin Sen in Scarborough
Our favorite Chinese dish is Orange Beef so we ordered that.  I tried to explain to the waiter that on a scale of one to five we like a solid four.  He said they only do “spicy” and “not spicy.”  I indicated we’d take the spicy then.  My wife asked if the Orange Beef came with some broccoli as it often served that way at many restaurants.  The waiter indicted that it did.  So based upon his statement we ordered Pork Lo Mein as a second dish.

In a reasonable amount of time, the food arrived.  It looked really good.  However, no broccoli with the Orange Beef.  Had we known we’d have ordered the Broccoli in Garlic Sauce or some other veggie dish.  The Pork Lo Mein looked really good though.  We asked the waiter for some lemon to go with our waters.

Pork Lo Mein at Chin Sen in Scarborough 
The Orange Beef was cooked perfectly.  It had a nice crispy coating and the meat inside was cooked medium rare to medium.  Just an absolute treat.  It might have been one of the best Orange Beef orders ever except it had no heat.  The sauce was tasty, but with no heat to balance the sweetness of the sauce, it was not the perfect meal it could have been. As we ate the beef, we both realized there were no bad bits of meat – No gristle, no fatty edges.  Just really good meat.  Very nice.  The Pork Lo Mein was perfect.  It has an excellent proportion of meat and all of the meat bits were high quality – No gristle or fatty chunks there either.  The noodles were cooked as we like them and the sauce was savory.

During our meal a young man stopped by with a water pitcher and filled our waters from the pitcher. He was friendly and engaging.  It took a while after we were done eating for the waiter to bring us the check.  I had seen others take their checks up to the register and asked if we were to do so and he said, “Yes.”

When we went to the register, a lovely woman greeted us.  She seemed like she was probably an owner.  When we mentioned that Orange Beef could have used a bit more heat she we could have had it that way.  They are happy to accommodate any taste we prefer.


Ambiance: 4 (Nice, casual, good for conversations but not “fine dining.”)
Food: 4 (Every item was cooked perfectly.) 
Drinks: 3 (Bloody Mary’s were more like tomato juice.)
Service: 2 (Server mislead us about the Broccoli and the spice available. He was also abrupt and unfriendly.)
Price: 4 (Meal was under $12 each, not including drinks, for a sit-down meal.)
Value: 4 (I think our particular server was a problem, but the food was very good quality.)

We will definitely be back. 

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