EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 16. CHINA MAMA


China MaMa has settled comfortably into its skin of being our best Chinese restaurant, but that doesn’t prevent it from being the constant target of slurs and rumors along the lines of: “It’s not as good as it once was” or “No one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

The reason round eyes say these things is because, when it comes to China MaMa (or any Asian eatery for that matter), none of them has the slightest idea what the f*&% is going on! You can chalk it up to Asian inscrutability or cultural barriers or whatever, but the actual workings of a Chinese restaurant interest us not at all.

Do any of us know or care who the cooks are? Or who owns the joint? No, all we want is consistency, and on that level this place delivers the goods. The goods being all manner of pastries, pockets, and dumplings stuffed with savory fillings.

The stir-fries are as piquant and fresh as any Chinese cook can make them. If you resist the temptation to fill up on dumplings, you will find treasures like crispy beef and lamb with cumin, as well as shredded pork tripe that is as offal as they can make it. Order some Chinese wine (yes there is good Chinese wine and it goes perfectly with this food) and feast away. No one leaves this place hungry.

Max Jacobson: “The specialty is xiao long bao, eight-to-an-order steamed dumplings from Shanghai that squirt juice when pierced….Cold dishes are dependable, especially the wine chicken and five-spice beef. Noodle dishes like the dan dan mian (think of it as a Chinese Bolognese) soar with these dumplings.”

Favorite Dishes: Steamed Juicy Pork Bun; Fried Shrimp And Leek Dumplings; Kung Pao Cabbage; Lamb With Cumin; Sliced Fish In Hot Chile Sauce; Kung Pao Chicken; Crispy Beef; Stir-Fried Shrimp Two Ways; Dan Dan Mian; Five-Spice Beef; Chitterlings In Hot Sauce.


3420 South Jones Blvd.