“Chinatown” photo essay

Okay, maybe “photo essay” is a bit pretentious, but the staff at ELV has never been known for its humility, and calling them a bunch of digital snaps we were too lazy to upload when we posted The Chinatown that isn’t (below) doesn’t convey that certain je ne sais quoi for which ELV is known.

There are more than 40 restaurants on the three mile stretch of Spring Mountain Road known as Las Vegas’s Chinatown. I’ve eaten in 34 of them multiple times. The following snaps will give you a “taste” of the real thing.

The Chinatown that isn’t

Las Vegas’s Chinatown is neither Chinese nor a town. But in a city where a pseudo-neighborhood that is neither green nor a valley is named just that, or where a Town Center isn’t either, and a Town Square is neither, I guess the appellation fits as well as any.

This stretch of Asian-themed strip malls, starting a mile west of the Strip, could just as easily be called Asiatown or Vietnamtown or Koreatown. In fact, of late, Malaysiatown might even apply. The only country on the Pacific Rim that is scarcely seen among the 40+ restaurants here is Japan; and even it has several worthy representatives.

Once you pull your car into one of these malls, you enter a unique world that will be more fascinating (if a little smokier and less friendly), than the one you just left. Some things take a little getting used to, but that’s all part of the adventure in leaving your culinary comfort zone.

Some of these include being the only round-eye around, the perfunctory service, and seeing lots of edible animals with their heads still attached. A little easier to digest will be how cheap dinner for two can be. In fact this area may be the only one in all of Las Vegas where you have to work at spending more than $50 for dinner, for two.

Also, don’t be put off by all the places specializing in massages and “relaxation” therapy, even if more than a few appear to be the sort where your happy ending for the evening doesn’t need to end with the evening’s meal. Rather, take comfort in the crispy sides of roast pork and the lacquered, bronze sheen of fowl hanging in windows, the pungent smells of marinated beef being barbecued tableside, and the hordes of native families chowing down on the authentic food of their homeland. All of which will make it seem like you’ve taken a short trip to a strange and foreign land which, in a sense, you have.

Continue reading “The Chinatown that isn’t”

KLAS TV Channel 8 (CBS) – Restaurant of the Week – RAKU Japanese Charcoal Grill

RAKU is so good it’s scary. Fresh, pristine, pure Japanese robatayaki cooking like Las Vegas has never seen, and fast becoming a foodie mecca like we’ve never had off the Strip.

Uber-seafood chef Paul Bartolotta told me he’s been twelve (12!) times in two months and still isn’t tired of it.

We (Food Man, #2 Son of Food Man, and The Food Gal) went last night and tried three desserts (after some pickled Bonito guts, beef liver, cold soba noodles et al), and found the melting chocolate cake to be possibly the best in town – ditto the watermelon grantinee (called sorbet on the menu).

Chef/owner Mitsuo Endo told us (through his interpreter – the adorable Risa) that he originally came here to cook in a restaurant in, of all places, Anthem – that bastion of bad taste in Henderson.* Anthem’s loss was the rest of the town’s gain.

And for the first time on TV, watch the world’s greatest restaurant critic** eat a pig’s ear on a morning news show.***


* As in: houses (ginormous), cars (nothing but SUV’s), traffic (unbearable) and good restaurants (non-existent)

** Self-proclaimed

*** YouTube here I come.