Tag Archives: comfort

MOMOFUKU: Get hype. Hype got.

Fairly often, a new strip restaurant opens up with a big celebrity chef named stamped on it.  Rarely will the chef ever go there, and the food suffers as a result.  It makes sense to cash in on your newfound celebrity if you’re one of these people, but those are the exact restaurants that give Vegas its negative reputation of overpriced tourist trap places.  Reasonable enough restaurants, but nothing worth the money and often boring and underseasoned food that caters towards rich and trendy people.

I’d heard tell that Momofuku in NYC is the real deal.  David Chang is, by all accounts, a brilliant chef.  He has a sterling reputation, but is by no means nearly as famous as Gordon Ramsay or some of the Food Network darlings.  I was super excited to try his restaurant with its simplified menu at his Las Vegas location and see for myself if I can add another actually good strip restaurant to my list.

momofuku las vegas
Who let that homeless guy in here?

The restaurant is located on the less traveled 2nd floor of the Cosmopolitan off in a corner next to the chandelier bar.  It’s a gorgeous space, and I can imagine the rent on this place to be astronomical.  The menu has a few extremely expensive items nestled among some reasonably priced entrees, and though I love truffles as much as the next guy I stuck to the mainstays and most of the popular dishes that Momofuku is somewhat famous for since I’ve never been to the original restaurant.

I required something raw.

Everything is served family style and they just bring things out as they’re ready, so the first thing we received was sashimi of citrus cured fluke and pickled plum and seaweed.  I’m a huge citrus fan in general, and the fish was cut thick enough that it had a really satisfying bite to it.  There was a lot of acid and a lot of sourness which went along really well with the fish, which was a good choice.  The powerful flavors didn’t overpower the flavor of the fluke and everything meshed extremely well together, which is sometimes hard to do with sashimi.  I told my friend Matt that it was a good start, and I was excited for the dishes to come.

Literal heavenly light is shining down on this.

Excitement was appropriate, because the chicken katsu with pepper gravy was absolutely the best new dish I’ve had in months.  Simply good fried chicken cutlets were covered in a thick, peppery gravy  that looks like it’s going to weigh down your stomach and make you regret finishing the plate, but the acidic bite of sherry vinegar completely cuts through the heaviness of the sauce and makes it an absolute joy to spoon up once the chicken is all gone.  It was absolutely impossible to put down the spoon until we ate all the sauce.  This dish is simply a must order.

This looks like skull island.

In this enigma of a bowl are up there as the best brussels sprouts I’ve ever had.  Seemingly deep fried for intense caramelization and covered in a vinaigrette with possibly fish sauce, these are crispy treasures that give just enough bite to satisfy a sprouts fan.  Not necessarily the most inventive dish, but sometimes you just want something done extremely well and this bowl delivers.

This bowl has quite the pedigree.

The ramen came very highly recommended and was Matt’s absolute “must try” dish.  It wasn’t hard to see why; fairly typical noodles but in a tonkatsu broth packed full of savory goodness with a soft poached egg that popped with the slightest touch.  And instead of an anemic piece of pork belly with unrendered, unappetizing chunks of fat, braised pork was in the bowl adding a small layer of melted pork fat to each bite.  Super simple, but absolutely delicious.  At $18, one of the more expensive ramen dishes I’ve ever had but worth every penny.  I can imagine coming here just for this.  Matt concurred.

HE’S NOT HOMELESS, HE’S MATT.

The service was fine, but a little spotty at times.  Near the end of our meal it took a frustrating amount of time to get someone over to us to be able to tell them that we had yet to receive our (intended appetizer) pork belly buns which are renowned in NYC.  After a few minutes, we had a nice little steamer tray set down along with a little squeeze bottle of sauce for each bite.  A nice touch!  Sometimes the sauce is so good you need a little more than they give you.  And boy, was this the case.

WORTH THE WAIT IMO.

My problem with pork buns generally is that the buns are big, doughy and overpower the sometimes paltry amount of meat and sauce within.  Absolutely not the case here.  Beautifully made pillowy buns acted as a taco shell for crispy, well rendered pork belly and cucumber and a hoisin sauce that sent literal shudders through me.  The chili sauce on the side added an acidic bite as well, and the whole thing felt like an out of body experience.  I can definitely see why these are so famous and they’re yet another dish I can’t see skipping when I come here.

All told, aside from a somewhat slow end to the meal due to inattentive servers, I was blown away by the quality of the experience and $135 for two people after tip was well within what I would consider to be a steal for a strip restaurant.  I absolutely can’t wait to go back again and try out more of the menu.

Momofuku

2nd floor of the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Open daily 5:30 – 10:30 PM

SPORTING LIFE BAR: A step above.

A friend of mine told me about this gaming bar that had a late night happy hour food special: $5 skirt steaks.  I was skeptical because gaming bars usually have fine but usually overpriced food, but that seemed like a great deal, and 3 years later I’m still eating at Sporting Life once a week.

sporting
For all your sportsing needs.

The menu here was designed by a former chef of Bouchon Bistro at the Venetian, a Thomas Keller restaurant.  He left a year or two ago to work elsewhere but his menu lingers and it’s extremely well rounded and satisfying.  There are not many entrees that disappoint.

Everyone has one of those foods that other people aren’t that into for whatever reason, but dollar for dollar the steak sandwich at Sporting Life is my favorite sandwich of all time.  It’s the ultimate comfort food for me.  They even started carrying sweet potato fries at my request, and the two go together so well it’s crazy.  When it’s cold outside and I’m not feeling especially social, being able to sit down and enjoy this absolutely delicious plate of food is so bizarre when compared to the normal depressing experience at most gaming bars.

sporting
I took two bites due to muscle memory before I realized I had to take a picture.

This isn’t a place that’s going to win any awards, but PSYCH, OH YES IT IS.  It actually won Best New Restaurant AND Best Bar Food by the LV Weekly the year it opened.  If you’re looking for classic American comfort food done well and for a good price, you’re home.

(PS, if you tell them Jimmy sent you, they’ll let you order some of my sweet potato fries.  And tell Neal hi for me.)

Address: 7770 S Jones Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89139
Phone: (702) 331-4647
Open 24/7

BACHI BURGER: “Aurora Borealis!?”

Up to this point, I’ve received more requests for the best burger in town more than anything else.  With good reason!  Burgers have huge variance and a ton of different things to do.  But when I am thinking about a good burger, I don’t think about toppings.  Having tasty toppings isn’t showing off how technically good your burger making skill is.  When I go to a new burger place, I try to get the most boring burger they offer because a boring burger is going to show off the meat quality, how well the bun is structured and the quality of the basic toppings.  That said, Bachi Burger blows most places out of the water just on these three factors.

(An E.E. Cummings restaurant)

Another point in their favor:  A concise menu.  A construct-your-own burger option, a bunch of Asian inspired burgers borrowed heavily from Japanese and Korean culture, and one or two that will please a more picky American carnivore.  They also have some great appetizers and sides that are great twists on American staples.  Including some Korean chili buffalo wings and truffle parmesan fries.

No words necessary.

If I’m being honest, the chicken is fine but nothing crazy.  This is probably the most boring of the appetizers they have but the quality is certainly fine.  They’re nice and crispy, moist with a really tasty dipping sauce.  The pickles are more interesting and something you can’t get at a lot of burger places.

DANGER, SAUCE OVERLOAD.

The truffle fries, however, are something I can’t imagine not ordering every time I show up here.  It is true that white truffle oil in general is complete BS but they use real mushrooms and sundried tomatoes to create the two sauces that turn these fries into something absolutely delicious.  Sundried tomatoes are the best kind of tomato, truly.

For our burger selection, we ordered a “Black and Green” which is more traditional American style served with blue cheese and garlic and “Kiki’s Burger” which has a bunch of Asian mushrooms and a chili mayo.  The spice level isn’t something that ruins the enjoyment of the burger for anyone who’s wondering, and going simple is absolutely not a problem because WOW the burgers are made so fundamentally sound.  The patty is the perfect size, not too thick or thin.  A nice char and well seasoned.  I’ve never had anyone complain about how their burger is cooked (a decent boast considering they’ll cook it anywhere from rare to well done at your request) and to top it off, the bun is probably the best bun I’ve had in a burger restaurant.  A really soft and buttery brioche, and somehow it prevents the absolute worst thing about big gourmet burgers: All the toppings falling out the back when you take a bite.  I’ve never had this happen at any Bachi location and that’s quite the feat considering how negatively it impacts your enjoyment of the burger.  Indeed, all the toppings stay where they are while you’re eating.  This must be Japanese sorcery.

QUICK I PUNCHED OUT SOME LADY NAMED KIKI AND TOOK HER BURGER
They must have an antigravity machine hidden under the table.

Generally places like these have a few throwaway desserts but I actually saw they had a cheap option for Portuguese donuts that looked too good to pass up.  And I’m glad we sprung for them!  At $5, this is definitely one of the best desserts I could possibly expect.  3 huge donuts and a nice scoop of homemade ice cream with a raspberry sauce.  It was a very nice looking plate and honestly one I wouldn’t expect to find at a burger place.

It looks like the bucket and the ice cream are having a staredown.

Overall, 3 people shared an app, a side and a dessert and each got a burger and a drink for only $80.  Certainly not a place that will break the bank and you can easily get out of here for under $25 with tip if you just come for lunch.  There may be some people who prefer a strip burger better but all told I think you could match Bachi up against any of them and be very satisfied.  And with a location now in all 3 major residential areas in town, it’s easier than ever to get your fix.

Various locations.  Check them out at http://bachiburger.com/

MINT INDIAN BISTRO: Introducing white guys to delicious food.

I’m from a small town in the midwest and until very recently there was absolutely no ethnic food of any kind in the area.  It was fairly typical fare and it wasn’t until I really came to Vegas that I got used to all the amazing flavors that exist outside of America.  Even when I traveled, I mainly tried to stick with things I knew.  However, my friends were big fans of a place called Himalayan Cuisine.  I really had no idea what it would be like, but they told me it was Indian food.  Having never tried it, I pretty much only had pop culture references to what Indian food smells like in my head.  Luckily for me, they took me to what would now be one of my favorite local restaurants.  A few years later, they changed the name to something a little more apt: Mint Indian Bistro.

Mint is open 7 days a week from 11 AM to 11:30 PM, with lunch being a buffet.  Their buffet might actually be the best value for lunch in town at $13; the variety and overall quality of food is amazing for a buffet and it probably has to do with new food coming out every minute or two due to the volume of food being eaten.  For this review, I went for dinner.  But the buffet is probably in my top 3 best values in Vegas.

If you are looking for a place to take your vegetarian or vegan friends, YOU HAVE FOUND IT.  There is likely no better restaurant in town for a vegetarian who still wants a table full of delicious food.

Mint Indian Bistro - Dal Soup
Mint Indian Bistro – Dal Soup

I usually stick with the curries when I eat here because every single one I’ve had is great, but I was with a few friends who enjoy getting things that I very rarely try so it was a good opportunity to show off the variety of things here.  The Dal is a very tasty lentil soup.  They have 3 or 4 soups and this one happens to be my favorite.  There isn’t much to say about it other than it being just a very solid lentil soup with Indian spices.

Mint Indian Bistro - Gobi Chilli
Mint Indian Bistro – Gobi Chilli

The Gobi Chilli is cauliflower in a chilli sauce that their menu says is Chinese inspired.  I can see what they’re going for, but to me it is very much Indian in the way it’s seasoned.  This dish with chicken is one of my favorite buffet dishes they serve, but the cauliflower is actually a very good substitution and adds a contrast in texture that I liked quite a bit.

Mint Indian Bistro - Pav Bhaji
Mint Indian Bistro – Pav Bhaji

The Pav Bhaji is the one dish that was ordered that I just don’t really understand.  Buttered hamburger buns served with red onions, cilantro and a vegetable puree.  It’s very acidic which helps cut through the richness of some of other dishes, but I feel like this is the most forgettable of the food I tried here.

Mint Indian Bistro - Samosa Chaat
Mint Indian Bistro – Samosa Chaat

The Samosa Chaat is certainly one of the most visually impressive things I’ve been served here.  The flavors meld really well together, but the texture seems a little off.  It’s soft on soft, usually a bad combination, and it’s also too moist for me.

Mint Indian Bistro - Dosa
Mint Indian Bistro – Dosa

Dosa is a large crepelike pancake stuffed with spiced potato and served with several different kinds of chutney. Many people order the Dosa and I will say that the potato, spiced as it is, is very hearty and pretty good substitute for a meat.

Mint Indian Bistro - Murgh Makhani
Mint Indian Bistro – Murgh Makhani
Mint Indian Bistro - Mango Paneer
Mint Indian Bistro – Mango Paneer

The curries really are my favorites though.  Probably their most famous dish among my friends is their mango curry.  I’ve never heard of a mango curry anywhere else, but the owner/manager Kris is very proud of this menu item.  It’s a mango twist on a masala sauce, sweet and savory but mostly just boasting a huge amount of mango flavor.  Definitely a must have if you are here for dinner.  The last dish is my personal favorite, butter chicken.  It’s a very traditional tomato curry and chicken thighs (the way it should be).  Spoon this over some rice and forget about your troubles for an hour.

Mint Indian Bistro - Garlic Naan
Mint Indian Bistro – Garlic Naan

Naan is the perfect way to mop up the extra curry and sauces leftover.  They make an extremely photogenic garlic naan.

Having never had ‘real’ Indian food in the UK, this is as good as it gets in Vegas I think.  I may revisit Mint for some photos of its famous buffet but either meal is excellent. 3 healthy appetites ate dinner for $120 with several dishes not being finished.

JIMMY’S NOTE: Mint has opened up a brand new location in addition to their former spot.  The new place is huge and beautiful and boasts the same great menu.

Locations

730 E Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89119

Phone: (702) 894-9334

4246 S Durango Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89147

Phone: (702) 247-4610

Hours: Open daily · 11:00 am – 11:30 pm

CORNISH PASTY CO: No, not that kind of pasty.

When someone mentioned to me there was a really good restaurant in the strip mall that Lotus of Siam is in, my immediate thought was “Yes.  It’s called Lotus of Siam.”  I was hesitant to go eat what they told me is food from the UK, something that even people who live in the UK generally pretty much agree is not good.  I was very happy to find that the Cornish Pasty Co is not only NOT from the UK (they are based in Phoenix with this being their first location outside of Arizona), but that it instantly jumped in my rotation for awesome cheap eats around town.

A pasty is a kind of pastry (I actually thought it was a typo and they forgot the R) that miners used to eat with a crimped edge so they could eat it and throw away the edge without having to clean their hands.  I choose to use a knife and fork but if you want a truly authentic dining experience I suppose you can leave the car garage you work in to come have dinner without washing up first.

Jokes aside, they know their pasties.  Check out their menu here.  They have a whole section of vegetarian pasties and two sections of meat filled pasties, one traditional english style and another borrowing flavors.

Cornish Pasty Co - Garlic Chips and 34oz beer
Garlic Chips and 34oz beer

Pasties aside, the place is a very chill pub.  I organize a bimonthly food meetup (read more about it here), and this was the spot chosen for this week.  It’s a good way to meet people and try good new places around town.  One of the meetup crew this week (FOOD BLOG SHOUTOUT TO JOHN S) ordered a huge 34 oz cider which he said was likely the biggest one he’s ever had.  They have a huge selection of imported beer, though they seemed to be out of more than a few of them.  We also ordered some pretty good oven baked garlic chips, which would be a small portion if they weren’t also insanely inexpensive.

Cornish Pasty Co - Chicken Tikka Masala Pasty
Chicken Tikka Masala Pasty
Cornish Pasty Co - Philly Cheesesteak Pasty
Philly Cheesesteak Pasty

As for the pasties themselves, they were unfortunately also out of the salmon pasty that I’ve come to enjoy so I went for the Philly Cheesesteak.  Also ordered was the Chicken Tikka.  Each pasty comes with its own sauce ramekin which is actually extremely well done.  Everything here tastes homemade, so if they are fooling me it is not easy to puzzle out.  Each pasty is only $9 and you can actually buy parbaked ones for $6 to take home with you to finish baking at a later time, which is pretty great for a single dude who hates cooking for just one person.  In terms of flavor, the pasties delivered.  They tasted exactly as advertised with a nice pastry crust that was just thin enough to hold everything in and not make the dish overly heavy.  They’re cut in half so it’s easy to share, and the Tikka Masala one had a nice kick but nothing that the grand majority of people can’t handle.  If you were to ask me what a Philly Cheesesteak cooked in a pastry shell would taste like, this is a pretty apt demonstration of that description.  For the price, it’s really hard to beat it.

Cornish Pasty Co - Philly Cheesesteak Pasty
Philly Cheesesteak Pasty

I’m generally not a person who loves his sweets but this place has really amazing desserts.  They have a bunch of choices but I absolutely love a well done bread pudding.  This one is baked for a little bit to give it a crunchy crust and they serve it with homemade creme anglaise or vanilla ice cream.  Spoiler: food coma.

4 people each getting a pasty, a few shared appetizers, several large booze containers, (DON’T FORGET THE OXFORD COMMA) and an incredible dessert came to $83 pretip.  Hot damn.

All in all, this is a HUGE hidden gem.  It’s open until midnight and the only obstacle to me not going here more is because it’s a little out of the way, being just northeast of the strip in a not so great strip mall.  But for price (even double the price), it’s a great local spot I look forward to revisiting often.

JIMMY’S NOTE: Cornish Pasty Co has moved to a new address with later hours.  The new place is beautiful and the food is still great!

Address: 10 E Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89104

Phone: (702) 862-4538

Hours: Open daily · 11:00 am – 2:00 am