In case you haven’t noticed, there is a new Asiatown in town, and it’s located at the intersection of Robindale and Rainbow in the southwest part of the county.
What started with Soyo Barstaurant five years ago has blossomed into a stretch of road with a number of yummy joints serving all sorts of authentic Asian eats. Here you can find an offshoot of Japanese Curry Zen, as well as The Noodle Man just up the street, along with the newly opened Goong Korean BBQ — in the same shopping center as Omoide Noodles & Bowls (pictured above). Just down the street, there’s Pho Annie — tucked inside a strip mall and all but invisible from the street — a joint serving the best classic Vietnamese fare we’ve ever tasted in Vegas….and we’ve tasted them all.
We’ll get back to Pho Annie in a minute, but Omoide (O-mo-EE-day: the word means “memories,” “recollections,” or “nostalgia”) is a joint not to be missed if you’re a lover of all things noodle-y and Nipponese. Add Omoide to the list of very strong ramen places to have opened here in the past few years — right up there with Monta and Ramen Sora — and a must try for any ramen hound. If you’re looking for something other than a huge bowl of noodle soup, look no further than the crispy tempura-battered fish cakes, pumpkin croquette:
…and onigiri (rice balls). Those rice balls (really more like pyramids) were stuffed with intensely savory shredded beef, bonito (dried fish) or umeboshi (pickled plum), and are so toothsome, you’ll find yourself fighting with your table-mates over the last morsel. At two bucks each, they are a flat-out steal, as are all of the small plates on the menu.
They also feature something called Buta Shio Bukkake (w/ bukkake sauce!), but we had just finished watching a lot of porn on the night we ate there, so we didn’t have the stomach (or the face) for it.
Continue a few blocks south and, if you look closely, you’ll see a small sign on the inside of a building (on the inside of the shopping center) that says “Pho Annie.” The nondescript entryway hardly gives a clue as to what’s inside. But then you peer in and notice a very bustling little eatery that’s almost filled to capacity on a Tuesday night:
Then you take your seat and (if you’re like ELV) you’ll wonder whether this is going to be another in a long line of Viet disappointments you’ve come to expect anytime you see the word “pho” attached to restaurant.
Relax pilgrim, because what is going to show up on your table will be the best versions of classic Vietnamese fare you’ve ever feasted on in Las Vegas:
Tender, lightly fried squid, broiled mackerel, papaya salad with shredded beef jerky and something they call pork skewers that is a mountain of flattened, marinated, grilled pork that is addictively sweet, savory and succulent — not the usual tough-as-shoe-leather stuff you get in more run-of-the-mill joints. That papaya salad was strewn with bright red shards of chewy beef and was swimming in a pool of pungent, sweet-sour fish sauce that was so good we could’ve drunk it wholesale.
So good was it, that we regretted, for the first time, swearing off pho parlors — something we had done almost half a decade ago — after we became convinced of their boring, copycat ordinariness. When we were told Pho Annie was four years old, we regretted our decision, and our timing, more than ever.
In all, we ordered a mountain of interesting, handmade, perfectly-cooked, fabulously-seasoned food — enough for at least four people — and paid $57 for it. It doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to eating out Asian, Vietnamese, or otherwise.
We at ELV don’t know why a dozen Asian restaurateurs decided to stake their claims on south Rainbow Boulevard as opposed to a hundred other avenues they could’ve chosen. It doesn’t make sense to us the way Chinatown and Spring Mountain Road do, but, as they say, it’s all good, it’s all inexpensive, and it’s all damn tasty.
OMOIDE NOODLES & BOWLS
7745 South Rainbow Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89139
8390 South Rainbow Blvd. #3110
Las Vegas, NV 89139