The chefs at China Grill Bistro, an outpost of the Chong brothers' local restaurant empire, serve up traditional Chinese dishes alongside creative fusion creations. Kung pao chicken and spicy hunan beef share menu space with banana leaf-wrapped chicken tamales and paella on saffron rice, a combination that pays tribute to the brothers' Chinese heritage and childhood spent in Latin America. The cooks never add MSG to any of their dishes, because they believe it obscures the flavors of their top-notch ingredients. To complement these flavors, there's a wine list made of up nearly 100 California varieties.
From Chick 'N Chow's tables, which flaunt the rosy crimson hue of a bowl of sweet-and-sour sauce, soups launch warm steam alongside kosher and vegetarian dishes. Entire rotisserie chickens emerge from trips to a fryer with a golden cloak and satisfying crunch, and the menu also cheers dieters with low-calorie steamed dishes topped with broccoli that spells out encouraging affirmations. Beneath a fan painted with a traditional landscape, diners gather to-go containers, and delivery drivers tote bags laden with lo mein and memos from telecommuting fortune cookies.
Le Chine Wok sizzles up an MSG-free spread crowded with spicy Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes. Fresh and natural ingredients pepper the menu, turning taste bud against taste bud in intense palatal debates between sea-centric plates such as the candied walnut shrimp or spicy soft-shell crab with serrano peppers ($15.95 each). Dishes, such as the basil eggplant chicken ($12.95), send sweet aromas drifting through the dining room, and the boneless smoked duck is prepared over burning tea green-tea leaves to absorb complex flavors and fortune-telling abilities ($16.95).