Inside an environmentally friendly dining room outfitted with fast-growing bamboo floors and eco-safe paint, patrons sup on sustainable, authentic Chinese dishes made from organically grown ingredients. Intricate lighting fixtures cast patterned shadows over diners as they tuck into aromatic platters of stir-fried smoked pork belly, wok-tossed seafood, or braised tofu prepared from recipes brought over from China 20 years ago and furnished with organic meats and produce from local farms and markets.
Behind the kitchen doors, flaming pans roast orders of meats, seafood, and seasonal vegetables to reflect the culinary traditions of Chinese culture. In addition to the sweet, sour, and savory sauces that coat the dishes' steamed white or brown rice, the cooks can create entrees with enough fiery spice to bring tears to the eyes of a potato. To accompany each meal, the restaurant's bar slides over domestic and imported beers, and glasses of wine from a California-centric list that features fruit-forward reds alongside palate-cooling whites.
At Chef's Experience China Bistro, patrons scan a formidable menu of Chinese fare in a dining room expansive enough to house a waterfall and a fig tree. Visitors converse between warmly lit walls of orange and mustard as they prime palates with starters such as chicken lettuce wraps, a trio of delicate fried pancakes enveloping smoked salmon and avocado. In the seafood chow mein, fried noodles do their best to mimic eddies swirling fish, shrimp, and scallops together with seasoned vegetables. A curried blend of hot Singapore-style noodles fresh off the wok cushions shrimp, chicken, vegetables, and egg, and the mango chicken situates simmered mango and vegetables beside morsels of poultry sautéed in mango sauce. Like a really lazy Susan, the restaurant's list of California wines rotates monthly, filling glasses with evolving selections of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay.
It isn't uncommon for Daimo Chinese Restaurant's head chef, Kwong Soon Lee, to pop into the dining room for a friendly chat with guests. Otherwise, the chef?who began his career decades ago cooking in a restaurant in China?spends hours in the kitchen perfecting both familiar and more unusual dishes.?
He creates classic dishes including sweet and sour pork, braised spareribs covered in plum sauce, and bok choy dressed in garlic sauce, as well as regular-favorites lobster and peking duck. Some of his more eclectic options include jelly fish coated in sesame seeds and stewed pig's feet. He also crafts various congees, rice porridges that are as comforting to the soul as a picture of a baby and puppy snuggling.
Yan's Garden piques palates with lunch and dinner menus brimming with Mandarin and Cantonese classics crafted using fresh ingredients and no MSG. Warm up meat macerators on crisp vegetarian egg rolls ($4.95) before graduating to the main meal event with large portions of sweet and sour pork ($8.50) or chicken in hot and spicy garlic sauce ($8.50). The Dragon and Phoenix plate flies to tables to slay hunger with a savory synthesis of chicken breast, prawns, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and vegetables ($10.75), and white wine adds a splash of sophistication and inebriation to the seafood combination's stir-fried fusion of fresh fish, scallops, shrimp, mushrooms, and snow peas ($14.25). Traditionalists favoring fried rice ($6.25–$8.50) or egg foo young ($8.25–$9.50) can find the savory standbys prepared with a choice of pork, chicken, or beef, as braised tofu ($9.25) sizzles to the excitement of both vegetarians and swooning soy beans.
Praised by reviewers from the Contra Costa Times and Diabolo Magazine for its freshness, skillfully assembled flavors, and perfectly cooked seafood and duck, Zen Restaurant has been making a splash since it opened. Chefs are adept at fusing a variety of culinary influences culled from across Asia, resulting in dishes such as Vietnamese shrimp-avocado rolls, Thai red curry sauce, Mongolian beef, Chinese crispy pork, and Singapore noodles. Diners enjoy their food in a warmly lit space, featuring hardwood floors, a bright red accent wall, and contemporary furnishings.