What’s with all the chicken?
It’s friggin’ delicious, that’s what.
Especially when made by two chefs who have chicken cooking in their blood, both of whom are taking downtown Las Vegas by storm with their chick-a-licious concoctions.
Cynics will complain that it’s simply a cheap protein that has universal appeal….primarily because it usually “tastes like chicken” (which is to say like nothing at all), and is made with all the heart and soul of elevator music.
But that’s only because they’ve yet to try Sheridan Su’s Hainanese Chicken Rice:
….a dish so elegant, and simple, and deceptive in its simplicity, that you will re-think every cliché you’ve ever heard about chicken from your very first bite.
The proper way to eat Hainanese chicken is to take a bite of chicken with rice at the same time, the whole accented by a dip in the house-made soy and garlic-ginger sauces. Calling it addictive is also a cliché, but one you won’t argue with as you shovel forkful after forkful into your pie-hole. (Yes, we at ELV know that you’re supposed to use chopsticks, but believe us, it’s a lot easier to eat rice, and chicken rice (and Asian noodles for that matter) with a fork.)
Sheridan (pictured above with wife Jenny), fell in love with this dish on a trip to Singapore, and he returned to Vegas determined to make it popular. One trip to Flock & Fowl — his tiny 16 seat restaurant on West Sahara — will show you how quickly he’s done that. If you don’t arrive well before noon, you’ll have to wait for a seat. And it’s only open for lunch, so there’s no sneaking in early for dinner. The good news is the plates come out fast and the turnover is quick, meaning: you won’t have long to wait until you’re tucking into a mound of rich, oily rice, and chicken with a whole new meaning.
Speaking of new meanings, is there any restaurant dish with more meaning than General Tso’s Chicken? If you’ve seen this mouth-watering movie, you know it’s practically the national dish of Chinese-American restaurants.
Tso (that our staff pronounces “sow” and the movie pronounces “so” and other people – some in the movie – pronounce “chow”) was apparently some George Washington-like figure in Chinese military lore, and he’s been honored (especially over the past 50 years or so) by having the world’s most famous sweet-n-spicy chicken dish named after him.
Historical references aside, chef/owner Natalie Young at Chow pronounces it “chow,” and what she is doing with his namesake recipe is nothing short of remarkable. It, along with her fried chicken :
…are taking these heretofore boring, sadly-prepared standards and making them sing. There hasn’t been fried chicken this good in Las Vegas since the Green Shack boarded up — yes, it’ll give Yardbird or Blue Ribbon a run for your money — and the crispy intensity of the skin alone (on the fried bird), and and the perfect piquancy of her hot and sweet sauce (on the General’s chicken), are each worth the trip to the far eastern reaches of Fremont Street.
Just as good on this eclectic, China-meets-the-Deep South menu are Young’s potstickers:
…that are as pulchritudinously porky as you’d want these little pies to be.
And her riblets — thick sticks of hoisin’d harmony:
…are worth the handi-wipes and dental floss you’ll need to pack before you tackle them.
Chow has a lot going for it: easy to access location, cool, comfortable vibe:
…and a menu that knows just what it wants to be.
Which is what distinguishes both of these places, and why both are destined for success. Neither’s reach exceeds its grasp, and the chefs know how to think through a concept that will have consistent, and tasty, appeal for a broad audience.
Between them, dining downtown has never been so fowl.
FLOCK & FOWL
380 West Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
1020 East Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101