My 3 year old decided she wanted to have lunch in "that Chinese Castle" so we pulled in about noon on a Thursday and it was deserted. There were a couple of cars in what I guessed to be the employee parking area and the sign said OPEN. She really wanted to go in so I figured we could look around, since the decor is great.
We went upstairs and there was not a soul to be found, although I could hear some banging around in the kitchen. We looked around a bit and decided to leave but at that point someone came out and sai the credit card machine wasn't working, but they were open if we could pay in cash. I would have rather left but my daughter was determined to eat there, so we sat down in the cavernous empty restaurant. I'd normally hate doing that sort of thing but a chatty 3 year old is good for keeping you occupied enough to not dwell on the absurdity of having this mammoth restaurant to yourself. Another table of 2 or 3 people came in about 3/4 through our meal.
The servers were all friendly. I was surprised at the menu, because I remembered it being much more interesting... although the last time I was in there was probably 3 or 4 years ago and that might have been the previous owners. Their website shows both Mandarin and Cantonese menus but what they brought us looked like what I've come to think of as a very Americanized Chinese menu, with Chow Mein, Lo Mein, Egg Foo Young, Chop Suey and Sweet and Sour prominently featured. The other table was Asian and I heard them ordering shu mai, which was definitely not an option on the menu I was given. That bugged me a bit, but I suppose given where they are located in Saugus, the non-Asian clientele is probably, for the most part, happy enough with Pu Pu Platters. I could have asked, I suppose.
Bearing in mind the non-existent volume of the restaurant, I wondered what they could be using for ingredients, but perhaps dinner is busy, because what we got was fairly fresh. The Roast Pork Lo Mein was actually pretty good. The Sesame Chicken was coated with an oddly thick and chewy batter, and the chicken came in long strips. It looked a bit like chicken tenders with some sauce over broccoli. It was fine, though.
The brought us fried sesame balls with the check, which my daughter loved and declared her favorite part of the meal. She'a already telling me we're going back.
Are they busy at other times? I sure hope so. I can't imagine they can stay open otherwise.
Jin Asian Cuisine Restaurant & Caterer
20 Bennett Highway, Saugus, MA 01906
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