45. KU NOODLE
Chinese restaurants in Las Vegas come in two sizes: on-the-Strip and overpriced, and off-the-Strip and down and dirty. The holes in the walls are stuck into seedy shopping centers up and down Spring Mountain Road. They are generally excellent, but also, due to their being the genuine article, off-putting to most round eyes. Strip Chinese joints usually charge double for dishes remarkably similar to ones you get a mile to the west, but at least you’re not afraid to look into the corners, and the ingredients are usually better.
Ku Noodle is Jose Andres’ attempt to bring some balance to this equation, by offering up dumplings, soups, noodle and rice dishes that are by turns hyper-authentic, uniquely creative, and palate pleasing to the timid as well as the intrepid.
Anyone familiar with the menu at China Poblano knows José knows his way around a shumai. The four versions here (called siu mai) won’t disappoint; in fact, they may be the best versions of these tried and true dim sum dishes in the whole damn hamlet…with the lamb with cumin being the most delightful darlings of the bunch.
As good as they are, the things to get are the Ants Climbing a Tree (cellophane noodles flecked with pork and chilies):
…or the Ku Monk (hand-cut noodle soup):
…or the simply spectacular Hakka Fried Rice Pot:
“Andrés does Chinese paella,” is the way Epicurious food writer Andy Wang put it, and we can’t think of a better description.
Salad and sandwich lovers will find the Watermelon and Watermelon Radish Salad as intense and perfectly dressed as watermelon-y things can get, and the Crispy Bao Bun — really more like a pork belly sandwich on a burger bun — the apotheosis of fatty pork. There’s also a concoct-your-own Tawainese Shaved Ice menu, and the obligatory, labor-intensive, “behold our craft cartwheels” cocktail list.
But those aren’t the reasons to come here. The reasons are to experience brighter, fresher, more interesting versions of Chinese starches than you’ll ever find in a hole-in-the-wall, at prices that will make you think you’re in one. Andres and his team obviously love playing with their Asian food, and to our amazement, they do it better than most natives….without sacrificing an inch of authenticity.
Favorite dishes: All Sui Mai; Snow Pea Leaf Salad; Fried Wonton; Superior Wonton Soup; Watermelon and Watermelon Radish Salad; Ku Monk Noodle Soup; La Mein Lo Mein Hand-Pulled Noodles; Ants Climbing a Tree; Crispy Bao Bun; Dan Dan Mian; Hakka Fried Rice Pot; Taiwanese Shaved Ice.
SLS Las Vegas