No one this side of Tony “Mr. Personality” Hsieh wants Container Park to succeed more than we do. Despite its flaws (and there are many) it has injected life, community and some pizzazz into downtown Las Vegas.
Those occasional crowds, the stores, and the fannies on the bar stools, always bring a smile to our eyes…and help forget the thirty years of false starts and idiotic ideas that have plagued this area. (Can you say: SlotZilla? Can I have an “amen” for Neonopolis?)
Container Park still has a long way to go. The crowds seem to browse more than buy, and the mishmash of small retail boutiques are constantly in flux. They range from the requisite (and worthless) jerky and tchotchke shops, to a superior toy store (Kappa Toys), and several top-shelf watering holes (The Perch, Oak & Ivy, Bin 702).
And then there is JinJu Chocolates.
Owned and operated by ex-Wynn pastry chef Jin Caldwell, JinJu features an array of creations and confections, ranging from the ridiculous:
….to the sublime:
…and a single, Peruvian bean-to-bar offering called Fortunato #4 in the store. All grinding, roasting and emulsifying takes place in an industrial facility elsewhere, and this shop only displays and sells the wares.
And what wares they are….especially if you steer clear of the gimmicks and concentrate on the classic bon bons and truffles pictured above. That 68% cacao Peruvian bar is no slouch either, but doesn’t come close to the terroir-driven world chocolates that HEXX features three miles to the south.
Our staff took this tiny space by storm last weekend and waltzed out with $60 worth of candies, a few of which — the dark and milk bars — were no better or worse than high-end industrial chocolate. Where Caldwell excels, however, is in the intense and balanced seasonings she imparts to caramels, truffles and bon bons. Whether she’s working in caramel, sea salt, Key Lime, mascarpone or dozens of other accents, she brings a subtle, sophisticated sensibility to her concoctions. JinJu is like a classic Chanel dress amidst a sea of hayseed singer fashion, and whether it’s too hip for the room remains to be seen. But this is top-shelf stuff — going truffle to truffle with anything Megan Romano or Jean-Marie Auboin is doing
So if you want to see what all the shouting is about in the world of chocolates, and learn to parse the differences between African and Central American processed cacao, by all beans, go to HEXX. But if the best in chocolate confections is what you’re after, hand-made in Vegas and second to none, head to Container Park.
Your waistline won’t thank you but your taste buds will.
Las Vegas Container Park
707 East Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101
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