Fat Choy: the Skinny On Sheridan Su’s New Digs
Adherents to Sheridan’s previous venture in the Great Bao food truck and 4-seat salon Bao counter (famously dubbed the Worst Location in Town) may already know about the barely-month-old FAT CHOY. The man has a following in the throngs of dedicated food lovers, adeptly tuned to the frequency of our town’s unique blend of street food-style eateries. Here’s the word on Fat Choy: It’s not all Baos (though they have two), it’s in the Eureka Casino (more on that later), and there has been something like a 1000% increase in seating.
Take heed: there are some hold-overs from the casino diner that inhabited the space before Fat Choy that can bamboozle a less skeptical eater. The cheesesteak, the buffalo wings, salads, and the breakfast menu (excluding the Kalbi steak and eggs special on the chalk board) are NOT any kind of deconstructed/asian-fusion/re-imagined/[insert buzzword here] version, they are crowd favorites that just need to be there. The desserts chiller is also mainly items from the casino’s main service, not unique to Fat Choy. The Eureka casino is definitely a haven for the “regulars” surgically grafted into the slot machines, but honestly I can’t in good conscience (and as a Las Vegas native) complain about them. Besides, if you want to look at it Machiavelli-style, the means of a small locals casino and a couple of bar food items certainly justifies the ends of Fat Choy. Besides, there’s a certain novelty to seeing basic hot wings next to menu items like, for example, roasted bone marrow. A halved beef femur, roasted with just a little bit of salt and pepper, topped with tangy and sweet onion jam and served with grilled sourdough. Of the few places in town where fans of this buttery rich delicacy can order it, this is easily the easiest way to get your fix.
Ever the perfectionist, I think even the most standard of Sheridan’s arsenal, the Bao, has improved since the salon days. Observe the pork belly bao, just fall-apart buttery with pickled mustard greens and crushed peanuts, easily head and shoulders above the contenders. The peking duck bao has big, moist chunks of duck with a crispy skin, sweet hoisin sauce, and a nice double crunch of sweet pickles and scallions. Both are on fluffy white pillows of bao, and both are worth the trip alone.
The short rib grilled cheese, I just can’t recommend enough. When you end up going, this is a must-have. It’s braised short rib, cooked down for hours and finished with a bit of teriyaki, with a bit of that onion jam and between cheddar, provolone, and grilled up between buttered bread. On the side is this interesting tomato dip (made with Roma, if memory serves) and just cooked down with garlic, onion, and herbs. The acidity and aromatic quality of the dip cuts through and complements the super savory and meaty sandwich, an amazingly simple and hearty meal all together.
I think the most ‘unique’ thing I tried that day was the shrimp toast. Now, I was informed that this is a fairly common in Asian-American communities on the East coast, but not so much out here. It’s as simple as it sounds, just minced shrimp on toast, but Fat Choy does it with an over easy egg, hoisin, and sriracha mayo on top. There’s a bit of crumbled chinese sausage, but in retrospect I would have asked for a double portion of those tasty little bits. It’s an interesting little dim-sum type item, but what you see is what you get. It’s fun, no doubt, and I think it would make a great breakfast staple food, but I suppose this is something of a divisive food. I’m glad I tried it, but it’s hard for it to stand against all of the other wild stuff on the menu.
Fat Choy is one of the most interesting things in that Paradise/Sahara area, really only competing against Lotus of Siam, but it is definitely the only good place in the area you don’t need a reservation or a special occasion for. I have a good feeling that if you head down there and try some things, you’ll find yourself addicted to something. It’s a rare treat for a chef like Sheridan, a guy who opened Robuchon, trained with Jean-Georges, has cooked in kitchens from New York to California, to be putting all this talent into a genre like Asian street-food, a genre that really needs some talent. I’m looking forward to trying Ms. Wong’s Spaghetti and Meatballs, the Pork Belly+BLT sandwich, and maybe five or six more of those pork belly baos.
Inside the Eureka Casino