Restaurant: Bistro Na
Location: 9055 E Las Tunas Dr #105, Temple City, CA 91780. (626) 286-1999
Date: November 29, 2017 & March 3, 2018
Rating: Upscale Chinese, solid kitchen
NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity. Spicy and precise on the palate, showing very good punch to its strawberry and bitter cherry flavors. Opens up smoothly with air and picks up a bitter rhubarb quality that lingers onto the long, tightly focused finish. This bottling showed more brawny character than many past renditions of this <em>cuvée</em>, but with no lack of vivacity.
Pork trotter jelly. Yes, a vinegary jelly of pig’s feet. Actually pretty tasty.
Lobster in salty egg batter. This very salty egg-yolk batter is usually used for shrimp. Here it was lobster. Pretty good, although rich and salty.
Lobster steamed with garlic (3/4/18). Having learned from the salty lobster we went with this simple steamed with garlic version — over thin egg noodles. Great. Really nice sweet preparation.
House special scallops (3/4/18). Usually I’m not a fan of the brown sauce but this was a great one, with some sugar, but complemented nicely with the tender scallops.
Chevy brought: 2015 Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas. VM 90-92. Inky ruby. Ripe cherry, floral pastilles, black pepper and allspice on the perfumed nose. Densely packed, sweet and focused in the mouth, offering intense dark berry and bitter cherry flavors that slowly become sweeter with aeration. Shows very good energy and strong lift on the clinging, spicy finish, which is framed by youthfully chewy tannins.
Chevy brought: 2013 O’Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain. VM 95+. Deep, inky and powerful, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain is a classic wine endowed with tons of regional character and personality to burn. The inclusion of all seven Bordeaux varieties in the blend adds layers of nuance and complexity. Hints of game, smoke, licorice and dark spices add nuance to a somber, brooding Cabernet Sauvignon that is going to need at least a few years to fully open up.
Kung Pao Chicken (3/4/18). A slightly unusual variant with candied walnuts. But had a really nice and interesting balance of hot, sour, sweet, and numbing. Slightly different, but excellent.
Beef in chili sauce. The classic Szechuan dish. There was some mala and a lot of garlic. Not a bad version of the dish for a non-Szechuan restaurant. It didn’t have the depth of flavor a great one has though.
Chinese Mustard Greens. The usual Chinese green prep, but with mushrooms and a slightly less usual green. Nice and crunchy.
Broccoli and pork shoulder (3/4/18). Fabulous vegetable dish with nice crunchy texture and good porky flavor.
Cabbage. I always like these cabbage dishes.
Fried tofu. Very interesting texture. I liked it.
Ma Po Tofu (3/4/18). Good amount of heat and mala (numbing). A touch bitter, maybe becuse of the particular Szechuan peppercorn or maybe because of the chili oil. Tofu was a touch firmer and less silken than I like. Still good though.
Purple Rice (3/4/18). Numerous Prince jokes ensued, but we had to take the purple rice because mysteriously, and amazingly, they we “out” of white rice — how is a Chinese restaurant out of white rice? It was 9:30ish and they had turned off the rice cookers to clean them.
On 3/4/18, I brought 3 flavors of Sweet Milk Gelato that I made as well. Gelato al Cioccolato di Modica – This weekend’s treat heads to the deep south (Sicily) for some ultra local/traditional fun. A medium super smooth chocolate base with chunks of of Modica Chocolate (a classic crumbly Sicilian chocolate made in the old style).
And I had a bit left of:
Turmeric Latte Gelato – milk base steeped in turmeric with a touch of cinnamon, cardamon, and ginger! And yep, that yellow is all natural.
Blueberry Cheesecake Gelato – a cheesecake base with French blueberries layered with graham cracker crumble and topped with house-made blueberry coulis.
The gang poses in the room on 11/29/17. We finished the place out since Chinese rarely stay past 8:30. Look at the table carefully as it’s small for a Chinese round table and they consider it 6-8 people but it’s barely 6 for us.
It didn’t include space for all the wine baggage either!
Overall, a nice place. The allowed corkage and service was very pleasant — however it was a touch confused as is often the case at Chinese places. They had all these managers and the like but couldn’t quite coordinate. But they were extremely nice!
Food was good. A tiny bit pricey for the SGV, but the atmosphere was lovely and the plating much more elegant. Some dishes were excellent and some just pretty good. I’m not really sure what regionality of Chinese it is. Sort of Beijing/Shanghai maybe? It does feel very contemporary Chinese and is certainly not aimed at white folk.
On the second visit the food was even better — really very good — and slightly different than many SGV places. There was a brief wait at the beginning, and they don’t have large enough tables except in the private rooms (booked). However, service was excellent and very attentive. They modified dishes a bit, gave us 7 pieces of things that were 6 by default, and were accommodating to our pacing needs. I really like Bistro Na and will return again.
A few of the wines from the 3/4/18 dinner: