Some families only do fish on Fridays.
Others enjoy meatless Mondays.
But around the ELV household, all-Asian Sundays reign supreme.
There’s never been any exact decision to do this, it just seems it’s worked out that way so many Sundays in a row that we now take eating Asian for granted on the last day of the week.
Take yesterday, for example. We just happened to be cruising down West Flamingo when the sign in front of the Palms Hotel said “Cathay House,” beckoning us like a juicy dumpling waiting to be slurped and savored.
So, in we went, and what we found was rather strange. We say “rather strange” because the Cathay House is actually a forlorn little circular room in the back of the 24 hour coffee shop. You pretty much have to know is there or you’ll miss it.
In fact, that’s just what happened to us. We asked for a table at the hostess stand (right next to a sign that says “Cathay House” and were promptly seated at a counter in front of a bunch of television screens. Upon being handed the menu we saw it contained the usual coffee house fare — omelets, burgers, sandwiches — and started looking around. Only then did we notice the back room — with no hostess stand of its own, mind you — where we wandered and waited until a person of vaguely Asian persuasion came up to us. We were then led to one of ten tables in the room and commenced the immediate satisfaction of ordering and eating the dim sum way.
How was the dim sum ELV, you ask?
Not that bad, but not that good either. And certainly not worth trying to find inside a hotel that’s hiding it.
So, consider our first Asian foray of this past Sunday and mild disappointment.
While we still digesting dumplings (not in the same league as China Mama’s or Beijing Noodle #9’s, BTW), we thought a movie might lift our spirits. Unfortunately, the one we chose — Red Tails — was every bit as tepid as the tofu and shrimp.
For the uninformed, there is a good movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, and it was made by HBO in 1996. If you want to learn about them, rent it through Netflix. If you want a typical George Lucas CGI-heavy production with corny dialogue, little or no character development and over-the-top, incredible (as used in the truest sense of the word), cartoon-y action sequences, they’ll gladly take your money at the Brendan Theaters. If such mindless drivel is your thing, then you are bound to enjoy an Aryan supremacist, with a scar no less, snarling: “Die you stupid Africans!” — which ELV is absolutely sure the German pilots were shouting — as he hurls through the air at 400 mph, with a hail of .50 caliber bullets flying around him.
But we digress.
Such a disappointing movie making can make a feller mighty hungry, so we trundled down to Pho Old Saigon, which used to be Pho Thai Binh, for some Vietnamese noodles…
…which were drearily the same as all other Vietnamese noodles we’ve ever had. And which means putting the same old same old in the same space makes no sense whatsoever. ELV has no idea why certain Asian locations specialize in one restaurant going out of business and then another, serving the exact same food, takes over the space. But it seems to happen with shocking regularity up, down, and around Spring Mountain Road.
This incarnation has the same decor and menu (note: all Vietnamese restaurants have the exact same menu), and a similar, if not identical, helpful staff. The food is tasty in that exact same way all goi cuon is fresh and all pho noodle soups are loaded with too many noodles and too many items and the whole enterprise looks and tastes and feels exactly like the identical restaurant that wasn’t even there a year and apparently failed before making way for another identical spot of almost to-the-ingredient duplication of the exact same food to take its place in hopes that it will succeed with the exact same formula that didn’t work for the other guys.
Well, we don’t, and want to know what the hell is going on?
Why does one place think it can succeed where others have clearly failed with the same friggin’ food??
And why the f*ck do they hide the f*cking dim sum (even dim sum as mediocre as this) inside a f*cking coffee shop???
It’s enough to make you want to go out and machine gun some scarfaced Nazi.
Both meals came to around $30.
Hidden inside the Palms Hotel and Casino
4321 West Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89146
PHO OLD SAIGON
4631 West Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103
702.413.6666 (It even has the same phone # as Pho Thai Binh)
Those who doubt Vietnamese places have identical menus/preparations/lack of imagination, click here to hear Ira Glass’ humorous take on the similarity and inscrutability of Asian menu wars. Many thanks to loyal readers Rudy and Emmanuel for backing us up on this!