Chino_Chinatown_01.jpg Chef Uno Immanivong

Before chef Uno Immanivong won over Anthony Bourdain with her signature larb gai on ABC’s The Taste, she was a spunky Dallas home cook with a knack for flavors. Now Immanivong has a whole restaurant to show for it. Chino Chinatown, which opened in late December 2013, is her and co-owner Adrian Verdin’s Asian-Latin fusion baby. Painted across the back wall is a pretty, dolled-up girl named Lolita, a Latin geisha, who overlooks the entire red, gold, and black dining area. Even if you unroll your napkin and discover a pair of cheap, disposable chopsticks, you probably won’t need them. I didn’t. A good portion of the menu is finger food. Some appetizers, like the elote (drenched with Sriracha aioli, cilantro, and queso fresco), require a few hand wipes after handling the soggy corn-on-the-cob chunks. Skip the dry larb gai (a minced Thai chicken salad) and order the chicken lollipops. These agave-chile-glazed drumettes are brined overnight with ginger, fish sauce, and simple syrup; dressed in cornstarch; and fried to order until they’re piping hot. Crispy, crackly skin creates a delicate shell around tender and juicy chicken. Besides Immanivong, who greets every table with a warm smile and leaves with a fun little quip—“Hi, I’m Uno. I put a little crack over everything, a little magical crack so you’ll come back.”—the lollies are the biggest reason for a revisit.

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