Happy Chinese New Year!
ELV update: Since posting this review, we’ve returned to 1900 Asian Cuisine twice and encountered laughably poor service on both occasions, as documented in our “Letters of the Month-Hospitality Hell” post above. (It was atrocious even as measured against the relatively low bar set by ethnic Chinese restaurants in general.) As a result of these unfortunate experiences — ranging from a non-existent waitstaff to half our order being unavailable or forgotten about — we can no longer recommend the restaurant. For the masochists among you, read on and let us know if things change.
In celebration of the Year of the Horse, we at ELV thought we’d do a little celebrating of our own by proclaiming the the new holder of the coveted “Best Chinese Restaurant in Town” title.
The votes are in and the critics* have spoken. And while the public (and by “public” we mean white people) hasn’t quite caught on to the fact yet, this new vanquisher of competing Chinese vittles has verily vexed various viands as it has vied to vesicate other ventures and vault to veneration and victory.
Or something like that.
So with apologies to China MaMa (and those who hate alliteration), the new grand Chinese champion is….drum roll please….1900 Asian Cuisine!
Yes food fans, three recent meals there (sandwiching one at CM), have confirmed what we suspected after our first bite several months ago: Jimmy Li’s reincarnation of his now-defunct Three Villages restaurant — located a floor below the old location and with a much bigger menu — is beating MaMa at her own game. And by “own game” we mean putting forth the tastiest dumplings and Northern Chinese noodle dishes this side of Monterey Park, CA.
Props will always be given to CM for introducing this dumpling and noodle-centric cuisine to our humble burg, but it must be said that the aforementioned xiao long bao here are juicier, thinner, richer and more nuanced of flavor than MaMa’s.
Whether you get the pork dumplings pictured above, or the pork and crab stuffed ones:
…you will be in for one astonishing bite after another. Deign to devour them directly, however, as these delightful and doughy drops of deliciousness devolve dramatically if you diddle with their destiny. Translation: eat ’em while they’re hot, because as soon as they cool off (which only takes minutes), the silky, melted, pork-rich gelatinous broth loses some of its savoriness.
Sorry for being so didactic — not to mention diagrammatically devoid of dysphagia — but as long as we’re issuing decrees, we must declare the hot and sour soup:
…as rich, sour and peppery a version as we have ever devoured.
After four visits we still can’t think of a single bite that disappointed (we even liked something called “tree fungus salad”) and every dish coming from this kitchen has a vibrancy to it that is as far from your standard kung-pao-sweet-and-sour joint as Chinese imperial garb is from a Mao jacket.
Best of all, for us gringos, all of these tasty delights are pictured on a full-color, multipage menu — to relieve that ancient white person malady known as Chinese menu anxiety — and you pretty much see what you’re going to get. What the menu doesn’t tell you, though, is how damn tasty everything is.
So, whether you’d like a slick and salty green onion pancake:
…or these firm and flavorful garlic shrimp:
…or some slow-cooked and stuffed lotus root:
….which is really more about texture than taste — a Chinese thing that — or this rolled up green onion pancake with beef:
…you will be getting the best versions of them this town has to offer.
Yes, you heard us right. As Mad Max said: the dumpling and noodle-centric menu here surpasses China MaMa’s for sheer Shanghai slurping supremacy. CM remains solid (we’ve eaten there in the last month as well), but can’t match this Shanghai surprise for sheer dumpling deliciosity and noodle notabilia.
The only problem we’ve found here is with the so-so service. But going to a Chinese restaurant and expecting crackerjack service is like going to Adam Sandler movie and expecting to laugh. It may take longer than you’d like to get fed, and getting any attention beyond having your order taken is unlikely, but that’s not the point of this place. You’re there for the food, period. Once those plates start arriving, and you get lost in a blizzard of bites, and a fight for every last morsel, you’ll forget about the mountain of dirty plates surrounding you, and the lack of napkins.
Gong Hei Fat Choy! (May prosperity be with you)
1900 ASIAN CUISINE
5115 Spring Mountain Road Ste 103
Las Vegas, NV 89146
* By critics, we’re referring, of course, to the only two critics in this town who count: Max Jacobson and that bloviating gasbag who always writes in the third person.