Upon entering, a happy Buddha painting reminds one of the traditional heritage behind this Asian fusion restaurant, owned by John Wu and Howie Bao. But it is a modern vibe, and unique, distinct fusion of flavors that will bring you back to dine again.
Inside bright chandeliers, stone tiled walls and Chinese vases displayed as art draw the eye even as the scents of dim sum appetizers and signature dishes waft from the back. Long tables can accommodate large groups or cozy booths attract couples to enjoy a night on the town. No corkage fees for wine club members for the 10 Temecula wineries represented on the Yuan wine list so go ahead and bring your own bottle. Diners also get the unique opportunity for food and wine pairings.
“Local wine is also used in many of the recipes,” stated Wu, though when asked about specific ingredients, or details on his unique Asian fusion dishes, he only smiles. The secrets to his success both in Temecula and Aspen, Colo. restaurants remain tightly wrapped. Wu, 25 years in the food service industry, has worked in all aspects of restaurants from the front to the back of the house. His goal, along with wife, Angela, is to present the best quality food with distinctive, memorable fusion flavors. Wu’s influences range from Chinese to Italian, to even French cuisine, and all can be detected in his unique offerings.
Dim sum is a rare treat in Temecula. The bite-sized portions are ideal with tea and are not typically spicy, but are filled with fresh, organic ingredients, all handmade. Reasonably priced, the wide variety lends diners to fill the table and share.
Upon arrival, we were served Salt and Pepper Calamari over diced fresh peppers tossed in a light dressing. Requiring nothing, but instant devouring, the calamari was cooked to perfection and is an inexpensive yet delicious precursor to the meal. Excellent with Yuan’s Chinese tea, served hot in iron pot, this is a must—though not your traditional Chinese restaurant “free” tea. Worth the slight cost, this fresh, loose leaf tea is ideal for clearing the palate in between a table full of dim sum treats.
Along with dim sum offerings of Chicken Pumpkin Dumplings, a definite to try with light yet well rounded flavors of garlic and mellow pumpkin, to the more traditional Shu Mai Pork Dumpling; one can fill the table with delectable dim sum openers and call it a lunch or dinner. But then you’d be missing the unique take on sushi, such as with Wu’s Dragonfly Roll.
Called “Summer Rolls” as this is how they serve them in Aspen, the Dragonfly Roll is a rice-less, seaweed-less sushi. Shrimp tempura, crab meat, fresh organic asparagus, avocado, and cucumber served with thinly sliced tuna, salmon, yellowtail, tobiko, and green onion on top. The arrangement, with decorative “wings” that make up the only sauce you’ll need, this roll has rapidly made its way to a Yuan’s top seller, according to Wu. Fresh on the palate, light, with a sweetness and light heat to the sauce, you won’t be reaching for wasabi or ginger for this sushi.
For the main course, we were served Yuan’s Thai Basil Chicken, a fall-apart, flavorful chicken, surrounded by a bed of fresh, steamed broccoli. There is light heat to the delicate chicken, and easily made for a favorite dish of the day. It paired neatly with seafood fried rice, buttery and delicate flavors, in a fragrant fusion of tastes from this uniquely prepared traditional dish.
Each plate is bountiful and can easily be shared. The menu is extensive and is sure to please even the most finicky of eaters. Yuan Boutique Bistro and Dim Sum is open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The full bar is open late. When you go, look for the special lunch menu. Prices range depending on season and time of day so check ahead online at www.YuanRestaurant.com. Reservations on weekends and holidays are highly recommended.
The restaurant is located at 31757 Temecula Parkway, #A. For more information call, (951) 302-2777.