Bistro Dragon is a beautifully designed restaurant with artfully prepared food. Yet, this Elk Grove Village eatery is so much more than a pretty face.
Given its location in a strip mall at the corner of Meacham and Biesterfield roads, you don't expect much in the way of ambience. Yet, Bistro Dragon is an oasis of sophisticated Zen with rich woods and bamboo. Every detail has been carefully designed to offer an intimate and inviting dining experience with a very clean Japanese aesthetic.
Bistro Dragon644 Meacham Road, Elk Grove Village, (847) 895-6141, bistrodragon.com
Cuisine: Sushi, Chinese and Asian fusion
Setting: Sophisticated and elegant, yet comfortable
Entrees: $7.50 to $14.50
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday; noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
"We wanted our restaurant to be comfortable, warm and welcoming," said Kevin Chen, one of the owners. "We try to offer customers good food, good presentation and a good dining atmosphere."
This aesthetic is applied to the presentation of the food, as well. Dishes are beautifully presented with elaborate roses carved from white radishes and other artful touches. Each creation is almost too beautiful to eat.
Specializing in "contemporary sushi and Chinese food," the menu is eclectic and surprising with everything from traditional fare like chow mein and egg rolls to more elaborate creations like the Golden Dragon sushi roll. The later dish features salmon and cilantro with apples and cucumber topped with tuna and mango and sprinkled with, of all things, real gold flakes.
Wanting to try a bit of everything from this diverse menu, we started with honey walnut shrimp and unagi nigiri (eel sushi). The lightly battered, perfectly fried shrimp were served with a sweet sauce and candied walnuts with almost a baklava flavor to it. The unagi had a rich pate-like flavor and was crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, just the way you want it to be.
The avocado and asparagus salad was a delight, again almost too beautiful to eat. With lightly blanched asparagus, thinly sliced avocado, shredded carrots and other vegetables served with a sweet ginger dressing, it was a bowl full of healthy flavors.
Next up, we ordered shrimp with garlic sauce, which was served with broccoli, peppers, carrots, squash and mushrooms. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and the sauce flavorful but not too spicy. The lemon sesame chicken took a kid-friendly food -- essentially chicken nuggets -- and added a tart honey lemony glaze with sesame seeds. The child in our group was none too pleased, but the adults gobbled it up.
The one disappointment of the evening was the sesame-crusted tuna, which was served over a sweet potato croquette. The tuna was rare, as expected, but mushy. Served atop a mashed sweet potato, the dish had the consistency of oatmeal. Not exactly what you want in a fish dish!
Chen says his favorite dish is saffron scallops with udon noodles. The scallops get wrapped in bacon and served with a saffron aioli with pea pods, mushrooms and asparagus on a bed of udon noodles with a creamy saffron sauce. We definitely will try that on our next visit.
Dessert choices were limited to ice cream. We went with vanilla ice cream encased in egg roll wrappers and deep fried. Accompanied by fried bananas and a strawberry sauce, the portion was large enough to feed four and we consumed it with gusto.
Bistro Dragon also offers a full bar and a wide variety of sakes.
As to the menu, Chen says he introduces seasonal preparations to the stable of favorites about four times a year.
With its lovely atmosphere and creative menu, we now have three more reasons to head back to Bistro Dragon.