Open since: 2000
Location: The restaurant is located in the Sugarloaf Parkway Kroger shopping center, across the street from the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Owners: James Wong, owner; Robin Yip, manager
Hours: Chin Chin 7 is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant will be open on Christmas Day.
Atmosphere: Chin Chin is bright and airy, inviting customers to stay a while rather than opt for the customary take-out Chinese food. Pale wood accents and sandy-hued tiles create a calm, casual space, which is a drastic contrast to the rushing traffic of nearby Sugarloaf Parkway.
Despite the relaxed demeanor, Chin Chin is refined enough to host high-brow clientele. Located just minutes from the affluent Sugarloaf Country Club and directly across from the Gwinnett arena, the restaurant is often visited by area sports stars, celebrities and performers. A wall in the entryway even flaunts framed and signed images of famed clients.
"Toni Braxton was in here the other day," Yip said. "She tends to come in either very early or very late, when there won't be many people here."
The menu: When singer Braxton stops by Chin Chin, she often orders a custom-made orange chicken and green beans dish, Yip said. Though it's not technically on the menu, Chin Chin chefs are more than happy to fill Braxton's request, which is a play on the menu specialty, Tangerine Chicken.
"We'll do that for anyone, really," Yip said.
Wildly popular on the specialties menu has been the sizzling rice and lobster soup. No word from Yip on if Braxton is a fan of the tomato-based broth soup, but customers certainly are.
Diners are also crazy about the sweet-and-sour chicken. Chin Chin's version incorporates a variety of fruits and fruit sauces on top of fried chicken slices. It's not uncommon to see chunks of pineapple and even strawberries sticking out of the orange and mango sweet-and-sour sauce.
"There are always different kinds of fruits in there. It's never the same twice," Yip said.
For herself, Yip leans toward Hot Pot selections. Presented in a large bowl, the Hot Pot is a thick, stew-like dish. Chin Chin offers it with a variety of ingredients, such as mussels with black bean sauce, a seafood medley, and beef and scallops with brown sauce.
Chin Chin's daily happy hour is prime time for sushi sales (select pieces are discounted to $1). The best sellers tend to be the sushi rolls with silly names - the Chucky B roll, a mix of soft-shell crab, cream cheese, tuna, avocado and the chef's special sauce; and the Bubba Gump roll, a combination of shrimp tempura, cream cheese and avocado.
Beverages: Chin Chin has a full drink bar that rivals its stocked sushi bar. Libations are as plentiful as entree options, and range from beer and wine to cocktails, such as the Woo Woo and saketini.
Dessert: While traditionalists favor the gooey Chinese doughnuts and the classic green tea ice cream, more modern diners enjoy fried banana fritters and fried ice cream.
Things you might not know: Chin Chin has seven locations throughout the metro area. Although the Duluth location is called Chin Chin 7, it's not the seventh in the franchise. There are, in fact, no numbers six or eight.
"I think we are the only one with a number," Yip said. "The others go by areas and city, but this one has a seven. I have no idea why, though. It's weird."