The Fat Guy Is Coming To Vegas

…and we’re not talking about Santa Claus. On January 3rd, we’ll be giving Steven A. Shaw aka The Fat Guy, a personal guided tour of our Asian restaurants up and down Spring Mountain Road.

Shaw (founder of, and top tamale at has just published Asian Dining Rules (Harper Collins 2008), and hasn’t been in Sin City in like….forever; so the pressure is on to show the big guy a good time.

For those unacquainted with his book, it is a must read for experienced and novice diners alike. The pearls of wisdom contained in every page had me no feel like round eye in no time. And whether you’re a fellow traveler or not, it’ll greatly enhance your experience the next time you wander into one of the 45, criminally cheap eateries that dot the landscape starting just one mile west of The Strip at Valley View Blvd.

Among Shaw’s many indispensable strategies:

> Get to know your sushi chef. The best sushi is made in the restaurant where you are known and have a relationship with the person cutting and serving your fish. (ELV corollary: For this reason, and many others given in Asian Dining Rules, avoid all you can eat sushi joints like the plague.)

> When eating dim sum, sit as close as you can to the kitchen — the better to be next to the freshest stuff as it enters the dining room.

> If you’re unacquainted with a certain cuisine, go at slow times, find the manager (he or she is usually the best dressed looking person walking around who works there), and ask lots of questions.

> Don’t sweat the language barrier….but learn a few words in whatever Asian tongue you’re wishing to eat in, and you’ll be surprised how fast the staff warms to you. ELV and The Food Gal went to Hong Kong last year, and the only Chinese we knew was gan bei (gahn bay) “cheers” and xie xie (shay shay or tsee-eh tsee-eh) “thank you,” and the names of a few different types of dim sum, and those alone were enough to get the staffs smiling and scurrying around for us like we were a couple of high rollers. Likewise, domo arrigato — “thank you very much” and hai— “yes” will take you a long way in any Japanese restaurant.

> Do your homework on Asian cuisines to get the most out of the restaurants; i.e. read his book!

Shaw also peppers his “dining strategies” with sidebars, factoids and anecdotes concerning each of the featured cuisines, among them:

> There are 3.37 Chinese restaurants in America for every McDonald’s.

> Whether you call it nuoc man, nam pla, or bagoong, the making of Asian fish sauces is a pretty disgusting process.

> No scientific evidence exists connecting MSG to any post-prandial food malady. (Many others, have written extensively on this myth as well.)

All of which makes Asian Dining Rules a fascinating and fast read for anyone wishing to expand their food fact vocabulary.

That being said, here is the tentative itinerary for this exalted occasion:

* Jan. 3rd, 2009, 11 AM, Las Vegas, Nevada: Steven A. Shaw arrives at McCarran Airport.

* 11:10: Pick up SShaw in long, stretch, white limo filled with topless mega-babes provided by Cheetah’s “Gentlemen’s Club” – each clutching a dog eared copy of Asian Dining Rules to their…uh…em…hearts!

* 11:12: Assess degree of said SS’s hunger (the easiest thing we’ll do all day).

* 11:15: Call Mrs. Steven Shaw and assure her that some tom yum and a long nap is just what he needs to recover from being seated for five hours between a flatulent conventioneer and a chatty grandmother with halitosis.

* 11:30: First stop – Ping Pang Pong in the Gold Coast for some dim sum with owner Kevin Wu (former owner/partner of Royal Star Seafood in the Venetian and Ocean Star Seafood restaurant in Monterey Park, CA).

* 12:30 PM: Leave Ping Pang Pong, drive (3 minutes) to Yun Nan Garden (lap dances optional). Suggested dishes (not the dancing ones): Guiyan Spicy Chicken Chunks, Lamb with Cumin, Yunnan cured pork with green pepper, Chongquing Spicy Frog, Boiled Fish With Szechwan Sauce, Baby Rooster With Green Pepper. Optional side trip: to Dong Ting Spring – the Hunan restaurant right next door, for some smoked ham with green beans.

* 1:15: Kick the bimbos to the curb (next to great Asian food, sex is overrated wouldn’t you agree?). (In lieu of lascivious lap dances, The {long-suffering} Food Gal promises not to wear a turtleneck (for a change), and dispense Alka-Seltzer for twenty bucks a pop.) Optional side trip: to one of the dozens of Asian “massage” parlors (many right next to restaurants) that provide the sort of happy ending that doesn’t end with a good meal.

* 1:30-2:00: Tea break at Tea Planet.

* 2:00-3:00: Some BiBimBap at Mother’s Korean Barbecue, or perhaps a steaming bowl of tofu soup at Tofu Hut….or the best potstickers in town (and the deep fried whole fish) at Noodle Palace.

About this time, ELV knows that mere mortals might throw in the towel, a gourmet pretender’s moral resolve might start to waver, and anyone less than a world class feeder might be flagging a cab; that’s why we’ll suggest:

* Some ban mi sandwiches (3:00-4:00 PM) at Nhu Lan or Hue Thai’s Famous French Sandwiches (that are neither Thai, nor French nor all that famous), or a bowl of pho at Saigon #8… to tide us over until dinnertime.
* 4:00-4:30: And since it’s practically across the street, we should drop by Provence Korean Bakery and partake of some of their puffy, air-filled, not-to-sweet takes on French pastries.

* 4:30-5:30 (nap)

* 5:30-7:30 Five courses of Issan and Northern Thai specialties prepared by Saipin Chutima at Lotus Of Siam.

* 8:00-11:00 Dinner at RAKU – the most important restaurant to open in Vegas since Spago arrived 16 years ago this month. Chef Mitsuo Endo will be expecting us and ELV doubts we’ll leave hungry.

This will be an eating tour that separates the men from the boys; the poseurs from the pros; the groundless, guileless geeks from the gravitas-engorged gourmands….Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “The Fat Guy Is Coming To Vegas

  1. suggest dakao instead of nhu lan or hue thai especially if you hit up saigon 8 ( same shopping center )

    also skip Mothers. otherwise , GREAT LINE-UP !

  2. Your itinerary proves that when you eat Chinese food, an hour later, you’ll still be hungry. I can just imagine the headline:

    Weighty white whalers, winging their way up the Wazuzu


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