B, D, F, V at 47th-50th Sts.-Rockefeller Center; E, V at Fifth Ave.-53rd St.; 6 at 51st St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
This venue is closed.
Yellow is the overriding hue at Istana, where a rich gold tone graces everything from the tablecloths to the plates to the soft light emanating from the chandeliers—fitting because the restaurant is located inside the lobby of the gilt-covered Palace Hotel (once famously home to Le Cirque). With paintings of 18th century courtesans lining the walls and thronelike red velvet banquettes, Istana, the Malaysian word for “palace,” takes its setting seriously. The food, too, is fit for royalty, with elegant, inventive takes on American bistro classics like a sweet yellow tomato soup and a fried pouch of zucchini blossoms and ricotta. Everything is expertly cooked—enough so that you may find yourself sucking the last bits of succulent lamb off the bone. If you have the wherewithal for courtly dining, Istana reigns. Le Cirque who?