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Quick Hits, Hot Licks and Happy Chinese New Year!

Things have been fairly slow around the ELV manse of late, what with us putting the finishing touches on the EATING LAS VEGAS book, and having cut back on our restaurant schedule because of it.

Accordingly, we thought a quick tour of where we have eaten recently is in order, in order to point out some of the tastier bites we’ve encountered at some old friends and new acquaintances.

We’ll start with the zuccotto pictured above: A taste of Tuscan elegance so Italian it practically sings La Traviata on your plate.

Where did we find this ethereal evocation of the classic Tuscan ice cream cake? Why at Carnevino of course, where the savories are always great, and the desserts just keep getting better and better.

But man does not live by dessert alone, despite what endoedibles.com might think. Ocassionally, he has a hankerin’ fer potstickers! Of which these crispy critters at Da Cheng (hidden in the original Chinatown Plaza) are worthy renditions:

Da Cheng is one of those out of the way places on Spring Mountain Road where few gringos ever tread. It’s tucked behind the stores on the first floor of the mall, and you have to wrap around the back of the mini-mall to find it. Is it the best Chinese food in the neighborhood? Nope, but we’re always satisfied with whatever we order, be it those dumplings (with a beautiful salty-sweet-onion-soy sauce), or bizarro menu translations like “Lives Explodes the Salt to Fry the Meat”:

…that appeared as a tepid form of Szechuan twice-cooked pork. Something tells us that if we weren’t a gaijin, the salt might’ve exploded more.

Regardless, it’s officially Chinese New Year! So, we suggest doing a foodie crawl through Da Sheng and a number of other obscure Chinese joints lining the avenue, like the equally hidden Szechuan Express:

….tucked deep in a strip mall at Arville and SMR, and almost as good as Chengdu Taste (and without the wait or the cash-only policy), or the always-empty-but-surprisingly-good Nui-Gu Noodle House:

…that sports the former chef from the long-gone-and-lamented Three Villages, as well as an iPad menu, some mighty fine noodle soups, and a righteous rack of lamb:

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As good as the lamb was, it was this giant, spicy shrimp stir-fry that really got our attention:

…containing a boatload of juicy crustaceans at a killer price of eighteen bucks. You’d be hard pressed to find a better shrimp stir-fry anywhere in our humble burg, but if the customer base (and service) doesn’t improve, we expect Niu-gu  soon to be long gone.

Chinese New Year or not, sometimes all a guy wants is a good ham sandwich, and we might’ve found the best one in the business. Because only at Glutton does a chef (in this case one Bradley Manchester) take the time to cure and smoke his own pork leg, and place it between a crispy brioche with just the right melt of tangy cheddar:

It truly is a thing of beauty, and it may be the best damn ham sandwich you’ve ever had. (BTW: There’s no reason we linked to that last clip, we at ELV just think it’s funny.)

As long as we’re downtown, we might as well highlight another dish that blew our socks off: the “turducken pot pie” at Carson Kitchen:

….a creamy melange of meat most fowl topped with the most addictive buttermilk biscuits found west of the Rio Grande.

Speaking of addictive, that’s how we’d characterize the food at Bazaar Meat. Something keeps us returning there again and again for all those fun, modernist appetizers (foie gras cotton candy anyone?), those great vegetable dishes like José Andrés’ tomato tartare:

…or the Spanish wine list (that super somm Chloe Helfand is eager to help you navigate) and some of the best steaks in the business:

Carnevino may be first in our heart of hearts, but Bazaar Meat is like the jealous mistress who keeps beckoning us to her side.

Speaking of beckoning, Chloe can entice with more than just wine, and she is always there to make sure that, if we want a martini to precede our great steak, we will only have one:

Now THAT’S what we call service.

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

CARNEVINO

In the Palazzo Hotel and Casino

3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702.789.4141

http://www.carnevino.com/menus.cfm

DA CHENG

4255 West Spring Mountain Road

Las Vegas, NV 89102

702.778.8886

CHENGDU TASTE

3950 Schiff Drive

Las Vegas, NV 89103

702.437.7888

SZECHUAN EXPRESS

4300 Spring Mountain Road

Las Vegas, NV 89102

702.685.9600

NIU-GU NOODLE HOUSE

3400 South Jones Blvd. #16

Las Vegas, NV 89146

702.570.6363

GLUTTON

616 E. Carson Ave. #110

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702.366.0623

http://www.gluttonlv.com/

CARSON KITCHEN

124 South Sixth Street

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702.473.9523

http://carsonkitchen.com/

BAZAAR MEAT

In the SLS Hotel and Casino

2535 South Las Vegas Blvd.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

855.761.7757

http://slslasvegas.com/dining/bazaar-meat

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