It was four years ago on Feb. 3 that enterprising Eric Chen launched
China Bistro #1 in Laguna Beach. The restaurant became an instant success
based on guests’ instant appreciation of his sincerely warm hospitality
and obvious dedication to using the freshest ingredients.
To celebrate the occasion this year, a handsomely artistic
refurbishing of the premises was set into motion, the project further
prompted when his lease was simultaneously extended for a whopping 15
A favorite destination for exotic Mandarin and Szechuan cuisines, the
restaurant has been newly designed personally by the talented Chen and
now welcomes guests into a foyer framed with etched glass bearing the
China Bistro logo.
The panels are grandly suspended between towering white Roman columns.
Inside, a beautiful white bas relief of Roman gladiator horses graces
the tastefully pristine dining room where a quartet of huge geometrically
framed mirrors along one wall reflects graciously appointed tables,
window-sided booths and a classic trio of frosted glass chandeliers. The
setting is a celestial contrast to the intense seasonings of Chen’s
delectable assortment of taste sensations.
Where to start with so enormous a menu may be a dilemma with no less
than a dozen appetizers to tantalize taste buds.
These start with incredibly crisp eggrolls embracing plump succulent
shrimp and continue with the rotating Pu-Pu platter heaped with savory
barbecued ribs, fried shrimp, beef kabobs, eggrolls, shrimp wontons and
paper-wrapped chicken. This mouthwatering $11.95 feast surrounds a
flaming little hibachi to keep things deliciously hot.
More than half a dozen soups -- spinach and tofu, hot and sour,
three-flavor sizzling rice, won wonton -- and 100-plus entrees make for a
glorious gastronomic gambit.
Seafood tops the list of 10 categories with such chef’s specialties as
three-flavor shrimp, aromatic shrimp and scallops and shrimp in a noodle
basket among 34 assorted preparations of these delectable denizens of the
Hot and spicy dishes are noted with stars, the menu explaining “we can
alter spice according to taste and we do not cook with MSG.”
Popular family-style dinners at $12.95 and $13.95 per person offer a
dozen entree selections, each with starters of soup and appetizers. For
an evermore enticing culinary adventure, it’s exciting to call ahead and
ask the gracious Chen to give his personal take with some extraordinary
recipes beyond the menu.
Palate-pleasing lunch specials provide another varied cross-section of
dishes with 29 assorted main courses of pork, beef, seafood, poultry and
vegetables, each served with hot and sour or egg drop soup, a salad,
fried rice, egg roll, tea and fortune cookies.
The unbeatable prices range from $5.50 for a quartet of vegetarian
entrees to $7.50, the latter for a bountiful serving of
shrimp/chicken/beef and mixed vegetables.
A select list of wines by the bottle, glass or carafe is available, as
are domestic and Asian beers.
CHINA BISTRO #1
WHERE: 30832 Coast Highwy
HOURS: Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m.;
Saturday, noon to 3 p.m.; Saturday/Sunday dinner, 4 to 10 p.m.
PHONE: (949) 499-5236
FAX: (949) 499-3476