We’ve told you about the best BBQ joints, theme bars and vegetarian eateries, but we are going to take you off The Strip, and even away from downtown, into Las Vegas’ Chinatown for some legitimate cultural dining experiences. From hole-in-the-wall joints to trendy fine-dining experiences, this area has it all and is consistently less crowded than the tourist haunts in more popular areas.
It’s not just the Thai-inspired small plates that would surprise the casual passerby at this unassuming restaurant, but the sensational wine list that expands beyond traditional riesling pairings. Sommelier and chef Bank Atcharawan was named one of Food & Wine’s sommeliers of the year in 2013 for his inspirational use of varietals by small American wineries.
The large Southern and Bangkok-style menu features bold and flavorful dishes that clock in around the $12 mark – a far cry from the expensive meals you’ll find on the Strip, despite being just a ten-minute drive away. Look for the homemade beef jerky, fried pig ears, and Kang Kua Kaduk Moo (braised pork rib stir fried with chili paste, turmeric, peppercorn and kaffir lime leaf).
3400 S Jones Blvd, Las Vegas.
When most people think tapas, they think spanish cured meats and fried cheeses, but Ichiza has made a number of traditional yet creative Japanese small plates which channel that same “try a bit of everything” vibe. Mouthwatering meatball and chicken skewers and grilled squid follow a choice of small plates including boiled cold bok choy, fire-roasted eggplant, and yamakake – a dish made from tororo, tuna and seasoned with soy sauce.
A large sake menu is sure to enhance your experience: ask the expert wait-staff which sakes to try with which dishes. This stop also boasts what could be considered Chinatown’s best dessert – honey toast with ice cream.
4355 Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas.
Dumpling lovers flock to China Mama for juicy pork buns, pastries, pockets, and traditional dumplings stuffed with savory fillings. The specialty is xiao long bao – an order of eight steamed dumplings filled with flavorful juices. A popular filling choice is fried shrimp and leek.
If you have the self restraint to not fill up on the dumplings, favorite dishes include Dan Dan Mian (sort of like a Chinese Bolognese), scallop and golden mushroom soup, and crispy beef and lamb with cumin. The best part of this restaurant has to be consistency – it’s easy for restaurants to have one-off dishes or be “not as good as it once was,” but China Mama has been a favorite of locals for years and always delivers top-notch goods.
3420 S Jones Blvd, Las Vegas.
Executive Chef Kai Wa Yu has over 35 years of experience in the kitchen and has brought his East Asian flare to Chinatown. Fresh daily seafood helps the chef bring his Hong Kong-based style to Joyful House with daily offerings of live Maine Lobster, King Crab, Spot Prawns, Giant Clam, Flounder, Cod, and more. Over 300 entree selections make sure everyone will get something they like, and those seeking a truly exceptional experience can try the beef in pepper sauce (sizzled tableside), the shark fin menu, or a Peking duck carved right at your table. If you want something a little more mainstream, try the braised tofu with black mushrooms in brown sauce, orange chicken, or pan-fried scallops with broccoli.
4601 Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas
Traditional Edomae sushi comes west at Kabuto, a hard-to-spot traditional Japanese restaurant on Spring Mountain Road. This sushi isn’t for amateurs; sushi rolls and pressed sushi are not part of the traditional style and will not be served at Kabuto, replaced instead with small pieces of raw or marinated fish applied to bite size pieces of vinegar rice known as nigiri sushi. Every piece is made-to-order and the chefs will meet your pace, appetite, and mood. If you show up at modern sushi restaurants just to order sashimi and nigiri, Kabuto is the top-notch version of these simple dishes that you’ve been waiting for.
5040 W Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas.
Featured photo credit: Chada Thai & Wine.
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