Michelin stars are rare enough, but when one pops up in suburban Temple City, it demands attention. Bistro Na’s, a sophisticated Chinese restaurant honored with a coveted star, raises the bar in the diverse communities east of L.A.
Despite the nondescript shopping center location, guests find themselves in an extremely attractive space with exotic wood and marble accents, contemporary lanterns hanging from a high ceiling, and traditional Chinese musical instruments displayed in niches. It is more elegant than kitschy, and less overwhelming than the massive dim sum palaces.
Bistro Na’s specializes in the imperial cuisine of the Qing dynasty, known for refined cooking techniques and elaborate presentations. It is best to come with a group so that the extensive menu, served family-style, can be fully explored.
Scallion pancakes, a greasy staple of no-frills noodle houses, are elevated to delicate pastries here, and the chilled pig’s feet jelly, a decorative aspic dish that would not be out of place in a French bistro (where it might be labeled “gelée-topped pâté”), benefits from a vinegary dipping sauce. Slices of spinach-layered tofu are lusciously creamy beneath a delicately deep-fried surface, and pan-fried empanada-like turnovers are filled with chives and egg.
Pass on the scallops in favor of braised black cod or crispy shrimp so lightly battered they seem almost weightless, kissed with a sugar-vinegar glaze. Tender lamb brisket—stewed before deep-frying, it’s just gamey enough to be interesting and light enough to be addictive—arrives with an assertive spice blend that’s more creative than a sauce. Fried Alaskan cod fillet is an upmarket take on the nostalgic sweet-and-sour dishes served in Americanized Chinese eateries.
Since Bistro Na’s is no ordinary Chinese restaurant, $500 trophy bottles appear on its wine list, but other wines are mercifully priced below $50. Desserts include the “Assorted Eight,” an exquisite presentation of Chinese dim sum–style petits fours that includes sesame rolls and cranberry-walnut sweet rice balls.
Best dishes at Bistro Na's
Scallion pancakes, crispy shrimp, lamb brisket, sweet-and-sour fish fillet, “Assorted Eight” dessert plate.
Starters, $13–$36; entrées, $12–$99; desserts, $8–$68.
9055 Las Tunas Drive #105, Temple City. (626) 286-1999.