Restaurant of the Week: Jin Yong

Jin Yong Chinese Restaurant Milan
The dining room at the new Jin Yong, photo: JIn Yong

I love Chinese food. I always have and always will. Even as I’ve read up on the cuisine over the years to learn more about its regionality, I still always find comfort in the NYC-style lunch or dinner combination platters: the main dish (mine’s usually tofu or chicken and broccoli) with fried rice and a choice between soup (usually wonton or hot and sour) or an egg roll–once upon a time, some spots even threw in both.

While these combinations satisfy my hunger pangs multiple times over when I’m on the other side of the pond, they’re not really an option in Italy. But Jin Yong, a Via Paolo Sarpi mainstay since 1980, has always provided me with the very same comfort. My fondness for the restaurant actually predates my official move to Milan, and the dozens of subsequent visits since I settled here have brought me just as much joy as the first.

When I lived in New York, I rarely went out for Chinese food–I was all about delivery. But once upon a time in Milan, delivery wasn’t a thing. Takeout, on the other hand, was never really a taboo. It just wasn’t wildly popular–most people cook at home if they’re eating in. Then Covid came along. Seemingly overnight, all the Chinese restaurants were on the delivery apps, which set me on a Chinese delivery tear. I guess when the owners realized just how lucrative delivery can be, they stayed on the apps post-Covid, so my Chinese delivery binge has endured–until recently.

Jin Yong Chinese Restaurant Milan dumplings
Grilled beef dumplings

In February, the owners of Jin Yong decided it was time for a change and moved from their long-time home in Milan’s Chinatown to Corso di Porta Ticinese, a colorful street just a 10-15 minute walk south of Piazza del Duomo. (Note: the former restaurant goes by the same name, but it’s under new ownership and is not affiliated with the original owners.)

I dropped by for lunch recently, and Camilla, one of the owners, greeted me with a big hug. The vast, airy space is warm and lovely, juxtaposing exposed brick with shades of gray. Long and slender wood rectangles dangle from the high ceilings–some are embossed with gold mirrors (jin means gold). For the meal, I couldn’t resist opting for my favorites since it had been ages, and I was, of course, in heaven–from the first bite, it was evident that Jin Yong is still one of the best places in town for Chinese food.

We started with crisp stalks of smoked bamboo and the lotus root salad, with the starchy and crunchy lace-like wheels coated in a thin, spicy red sauce. The shrimp wonton soup with bok choy arrived in a large serving bowl so that we could ladle it ourselves into our deep soup bowls. The richly flavored broth was a perfect antidote to the chilly afternoon.

Jin Yong Chinese Restaurant Milan Lotus Root Salad
Lotus root salad

The house-made grilled meat dumplings met all my dumpling criteria. The dough-filling ratio was spot on, adhering perfectly to each other, so the dumplings were easy to eat. The filling was compact, so no crumbly pieces spilled out, nor did the filling separate from the dough, which always dampers the eating experience. The meat was seasoned, vibrant, tender, and just all-around delightful. For the mains, we enjoyed the saucy and spicy mapo tofu and kung pao chicken dishes with the house fried rice, which cooks on a burner at the table.

Jin Yong Chinese Restaurant Milan Mapo Tofu
Mapo Tofu

If you’re planning to dine there, always inquire about the specials. More specifically, see if they have canocchie (mantis shrimp)–if so, go for ‘em. They weren’t on offer, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for next time.

Jin Yong
Corso di Porta Ticinese, 6
+39 0289401415
You can also book online

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