43. MINT INDIAN BISTRO
Calvin Trillin once wrote that the average Italian restaurant gets more customers in a day than the average Indian restaurant gets in a month. ELV — the man, the myth, the yogurt-yogi-spiritual-advisor — used to agree with him. These days the tables have been turned (somewhat) and from the lines out the door at Mint Indian Bistro, it appears the Indians (dots not feathers) are giving the Italians a run for your money. ELV also thinks every vegetarian restaurant in Vegas is a joke. They should all close up shop immediately, and every vegetarian in town should start frequenting this place instead.
From those crowds that pack this place every day and night, we at ELV think our advice has finally been taken to heart, and our generation’s favorite food writer might be wrong (for once).
Despite the name, MIB, heads you straight to the Himalayas—where classics dishes like momo dumplings and chau chau await. It’s really a Nepalese restaurant with some vindaloo here and a Himalayan there, making it Las Vegas’s own master of all sub-continent cuisines. Think of it like a Middle Eastern place that holds no allegiance to any one country, but rather, seeks to expose you to flavors and techniques shared by a number of neighbors.
Thus can you enjoy a southern Indian dosa (crispy savory pancake) that could double as an umbrella—a paper-thin umbrella, which comes laced with lip-searing chile powder along side s northern Indian Baingan Bharta (mashed, roasted eggplant).
Not so assertive, but equally lip-smacking, are those momos—stuffed with ground turkey, they are probably the subtlest things on the menu, but no less addictive for it.
The staff is exceedingly friendly and helpful to novices to this cuisine (who isn’t?), and they take your order on their iphones—how cool is that? They’ve even kept a bunch of European and subcontinental beers on the menu— a legacy leftover from the restaurant’s previous incarnation. The abstruse differences between northern-Indian and Nepalese cuisine may not be readily apparent to anyone but Max, but anyone in love with the soups, stews, and curries of the subcontinent, will find precious little to complain about after one of these highly-spiced meals.
Speaking of spiced, they also feature an “Inferno Curry” menu and a challenge: finish any dish of chicken, lamb or veggie curry– heavily spiced with the jolokia “ghost” pepper from the wilds of the eastern Himalayas — and the dish is free and you get a $50 gift certificate. (But you have to sign a waiver first.)
For the record, yours truly (who considers himself a major league chili head) got through three bites of the lamb “Inferno” before he had to call it quits. For the record #2: a bhut jolokia pepper weighs in at over 1,000,000 Scoville Units; a jalapeno, by way of contrast, measures around 15,000. Try it at your own risk, and have several mango lassis standing by.
Max Jacobson says: “Indian food isn’t very good in this town. [M]int, however, breaks the mold. [The] lunch buffet — stocked with incredibly delicious Nepali-style chilli chickena and host of other specialities — is the best Indian spread for hundreds of miles.”
Favorite Dishes: Samosa Chaat; Bombay Aloo Curry; Chau Chau; Momos; Chana Masala; Rogan Josh; Vertical Vindaloo; Baingain Bharta; Tandoori Chicken, Lamb; All Dosas; Mango Masala Curry; Northern Indian Tasting Menu; Southern Indian Tasting Menu; Nepalese Tasting Menu; Anything with “Tasting Menu” in the title; All vegetarian dishes; Basically everything on the friggin’ menu.
MINT INDIAN BISTRO
730 East Flamingo Road