Location: 9055 E Las Tunas Dr #105, Temple City, CA 91780. (626) 286-1999
Date: June 15, 2019
Rating: Upscale Chinese, solid kitchen
Chinese Restaurants in the SGV are slowly going more upscale in a way that’s different than the Cantonese palaces of Monterey Park of yesterday. In any case, I wanted an interesting place for my now 3rd annual SGV birthday dinner and so I’d thought I’d return (for a third time) to Na’s.
The interior is very elegant Chinese, almost traditional but in a new way typical in China today. Ornate wood carvings, lanterns and antique music instruments abound. Technically it bills itself as “Imperial Cuisine”. Maybe there is some of that, but it’s also a bit of Chinese greatest hits. Still, it’s a different cuisine than nearly every other place in the SGV with more ornate plating.
Tonight I tried out ordering this preset banquet menu. It’s a “package” and I ordered it for 10 as we had a couple kids. We added a couple dishes to it. I’m not sure the menu is actually not more expensive than getting all this from the menu manually. I’m way too lazy to add it up. But more than half the cost is in the king crab. This isn’t a discount king crab place.
From my cellar: NV Drappier Champagne Rosé Brut Nature Dosage Zero. VM 90. Pale orange. Mineral-accented red berries and citrus fruits on the nose, complemented by hints of candied rose and white pepper. Stony and precise, offering lively strawberry and orange zest flavors that expand slowly with air. Closes spicy, stony and tight, with very good clarity and floral persistence.
Okra in Seasoned Dressing. These are cold appetizers. I like okra, weird hairy texture and all. This had a nice vinegar tang.
Chef Su’s Pork Feet Jelly. Yes, a vinegary jelly of pig’s feet. Actually very tasty. Nice firm jelly texture and vinegar tang. Like a pig feet jello!
Na’s Drunken Chicken. Pretty much Hainan chicken as far as I could tell, but somehow different. Most people loved this dish. It was fine, but to my taste not a ton of flavor.
Plain noodles for the boy.
Sebastian brought: NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée Edition 167eme. 93 points. Bright clean and wound up. Nice minerality and cut with good volume. Serious breed in a lighter package for this edition.
Fingus mixed with Bitter gourd. Interesting textures and VERY bitter “gourd” (the green stuff). Back at MIT in the early 90s, taking new students out to Chinese and making them try “bitter melon” was a hazing ritual!
Truffle Mushrooms. Mushrooms with truffle oil and salt basically. I think I might have preferred them without the truffle oil.
We asked for mustard, instead of Chinese mustard, somehow they had deli mustard!
Smoked Pork Rib. Really yummy pork nibblets!
From my cellar: 2011 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly Cuvée Nicholas et Mathis. 92 points. Pale gold with citrine highlights. Pungent nose of extremely overripe stonefruit with an underlying citrus/mineral aroma. Tart citrus zest, dark wildflower honey, wax & crushed shell. Well rounded and versatile.
Stands for the about to arrive Emperor and Empress jars!
This is empress jar soup. It includes Beef Tendon, Mushroom, Fish Maw, Quail Egg, Sea Cucumber, Forest Frog. Better for Yin than Yang! Women are supposed to eat this one and men the one above. I actually really enjoyed the silky texture and subtle flavors.
They also gave you a bit of these (Pickled Chili Peppers, Cilantro, Fermented Tofu). The pickle is kinda like a pickled pepper one might find in a good hoagie!
Ginseng Chicken Stew. Ginseng, Beef Tendon, Chicken. Very pleasant. Simultaneously, mild and intense, if that’s possible.
Scallion pancakes ordered off the menu for the kids.
Yarom brought: 2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Franc de Pied Le Haut-Lieu. JG 94. The 2009 Vouvray “Le Haut Lieu” Franc de Pied bottling from Domaine Huët is the current release from this small plot of ungrafted vines. The wine does not have a sweetness designation on the label, but it shows just a touch of sweetness and probably would be classified as a light Demi-Sec if there were one on the label. The nose is still fairly youthful, with a sense of reserve that nine year-old Vouvray will often show, offering up a refined bouquet of quince, lemon, chalky soil tones, beeswax, lanolin and lovely, delicate white floral tones in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and light on its feet, with lovely intensity of flavor, excellent focus and grip, bright, seamless acids and simply superb length and grip on the adolescently complex finish. There is certainly a difference between the French roots here and the Le Haut Lieu made with vines grafted onto American rootstocks, as this wine delivers a more elegant profile on both the nose and palate. This is a stunning young bottle of Le Haut Lieu, which is approachable at age nine, but still really in its infancy and will not reach its plateau for another seven to ten years and should drink magically for the next fifty years. A beautiful wine.
The giant king crab for our special menu.
Yarom and my brother posing with the crab.
King Crab Legs, steamed with Chinese (rice) wine. Very tender and sweet.
King Crab Fried with golden egg yolk and baked pumpkin. The salty rich coating. Not my favorite shellfish prep, but one the Chinese love for its richness.
King Crab steamed egg in crab shell. A very light fluffy savory custard I term “Crab Brulee.” Not much actual crab meat in this part.
Scallop with fried corn. Similar sticky salty egg yolk. Both were delicious. Cohesive grainy texture.
Dry Braised Black Cod with Chili Sauce. I loved the crunchy ginger bits in the sauce.
From my cellar: 2008 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Monthélie 1er Cru Les Duresses. VM 88. The 2008 Monthélie Les Duresses is a beguiling, inviting wine laced with dark red fruit. This beautifully balanced, vibrant red carries through nicely to the finish.
Diced Black Pepper Honey Angus Beef. Super tender and soft. Great Chinese beef.
Ordered off the menu: Spinach with Sesame. Coated in a miso like sauce, very interesting. Not typical at all to have greens “coated” like this. Lent a sweet taste and a distinct texture with the sesame seed coating.
Na’s Secret Tofu. Very interesting texture. I liked it. Sort of soft in the center with that semi-dry fry aspect as well, a stretchy give to the coating. Mild salty flavor.
Squid and Shrimp Fried Rice. Delicious Umami salty fried rice. Amazing with the sauce from the fish (above).
Ordered off the menu: Pea Tendrils with garlic. Nice colon sweeper.
Na’s Beef Prime Rib. Bone-in. Very tasty, soft, cooked all the way through and tons of beefy flavor. Extremely soft from the long cooking and fairly high fat content.
From my cellar: 2014 Domaine Dujac Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Les Chaffots. 92 points. Delicious berry juice.
Sweet and Sour Cabbage. Ordered off the menu. Sebastian was jonesing for more veggies and ordered not one but two of these. They were good but his eyes were bigger than his stomach and we didn’t even finish one.
Stir Fried Bok Choy with Mushroom. Light but pleasant.
Crispy Shrimp. This was our favorite dish so far. The shrimp were bursting out of their shells a bit like molting cicadas! Shells are cooked at a high enough temperature that much of the chiton denatures into sugars and they can be eaten.
It should be noted that this was substituted in on the menu for the Na’s Braised Pork Belly because somehow, despite the fact that we had a set banquet menu, they ran out!
Na’s Assorted Eight. Assorted traditional Chinese desserts. Weird, gooey, slightly sweet, and mostly filled with bean paste. They looked fabulous, but aren’t actually that tasty. Textures are nice though.
I brought some gelato as usual.
Salted Caramel Chocolate — House-made salted caramel forms the core of this base which then is layered with house-made Valrhona dark chocolate ganache and Valrhona milk chocolate chips — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — my best salted caramel yet — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #caramel #chocolate #Valrhona #ganache
Crema Fiorentina Zabaione — Marsala Orange Vanilla Zabaione base with Blackberry Mango Coulis — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Very close to the oldest gelato flavor!! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #orange #Zabaione #CremaFiorentina
Sebastian brought: 2006 Château Léoville Poyferré. VM 91. Full ruby-red. Ripe aromas of currant, milk chocolate and smoky oak. Lush, sweet and full, with superripe yet backward flavors of dark berries, dark chocolate and minerals. Wonderfully layered, structured wine whose excellent vinosity and firm tannins call for several years of patience.
Overall, a nice place. The allowed corkage and service was very pleasant — we had a dedicated server in the private room but he must have been handling a couple of them because he was pretty harried. He tried really hard though. They have some weird policies. There was a $100 deposit for the room, which is fine, but they put it on a gift card and you are supposed to use it at the time. Our server forgot (and so did I) so he paypaled me back the $100. Weird but nice.
They brought us wine glasses (not great ones, but they have them). We handled the wine service. There was a good amount of plate changing. Took a while to get going even though we had the pre-ordered menu. They seat all the private rooms in two seatings at 5pm and 7:30pm so all 5 of them were sitting at once. That doesn’t make it easy on the server. All in all it’s excellent service for SGV Chinese, SO much better than we had the week before at Happy Table. But still a bit confused.
Food is interesting. Beautiful plating. Not the most flavor forward of the Chinese cuisines. Pretty good, but also expensive in a relative fashion. Ended up $145 a person all in with a good tip. Now we had Emperor’s jar and King Crab, but if you go to a Top Island or the like you can get that much cheaper too. Still a novel and fun experience. Gorgeous room.
While a bit pricey for the SGV, the atmosphere is 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? They say “Imperial.” It does feel very contemporary Chinese and is certainly not aimed at white folk.