Las Vegas: EATING WITHOUT STRIPPING

The scenario: Help! I’m trapped in Las Vegas while Hubs is at a boring conference. I have no idea where to eat! 

I joke of course.

I never thought this paradise of slot machines and neon lights would also be an urban sprawl of culinary treasures. Merely mentioning a visit to Vegas resulted in so many friends pressuring us to try their restaurant recommendations. We ate at so many restaurants I had to divide my list into places on the Strip and off.

Side note: being of Asian descent, my tastes tend to skew towards those flavors… just in case you’re wondering why I have more than a fair share of Asian restaurants on this list. Without further interruption… I present it to you!

EVEL PIE

This pizza homage to Evel Knievel (was he a pizza enthusiast? Did his motorbike scale 20 rows of pizzas?) served up some delicious, thin-crust pizza very close to the crazy Fremont Street. This small shop felt like an old city pizzeria complete with pinball machine and Knievel memorabilia. We relaxed at the welcoming bar while enjoying a large slice of Pepperoni & Jalapeno Pizza and Hubs took one topped with a variety of meat.

VegasFood02 Evel Pie - insides
The lively counter/bar at Evel Pie

TENAYA BREWING

Save me. Release me from all those Millerweiser and Budneken dominating the Strip. Tenaya Brewing was a breath of fresh air from it all (or should I say… taste). Even better, their craft offerings were really good- especially their Porters and Stouts. Although they currently have too-small machinery in a too-large warehouse, the tasting area is cozy and separated by large windows. We played board games and watched sports on the television while drinking a flight.

VegasFood02 Flight from Tenaya Brewing
Flight of offerings from Tenaya Brewing

KALDI’S COFFEE

We stumbled into this place on a whim and were pleasantly surprised by the passion of the lone barista for Ethiopian coffee. Within this little space (basically a meeting room with light Ethiopian décor) they also do traditional coffee ceremonies. Despite listing cold coffee on the menu, the barista was obviously frazzled and insulted when we ordered the cold coffees explaining it waters down the brew. Nevertheless, his attempt to make a cold coffee and iced latte was just putting ice in the original… which resulted in melted cubes and a still hot drink upon arrival.

VegasFood02 Kaldi's Coffee ceremony area
The Ethiopian coffee ceremony area at Kaldi’s Coffee

LOTUS OF SIAM

Ignore the drab plaza and ignore the simple and casual décor inside. Chef Saipin Chutima is a James Beard winner and specializes in North Thailand cuisine… so ignore the Pad Thai and head straight for the menu’s back. My Kha Nom Jean Nam Ngyow  was a tomato-based stew over vermicelli rice noodles; spicy, flavorful and with great bursts of tang from the lime. Hubs Shoes favored the Crispy Duck in Khao Soi- a curry-like sauce that managed to play well with the duck’s own flavor.

VegasFood02 Lotus of Siam - our dishes
From Lotus of Siam [Top] Kha Nom Jean Nam Ngyow was a tomato-based stew [Bottom] Crispy Duck in Khao Soi

BIWON KOREAN BBQ AND SUSHI

Hmmm. All-you-can-eat Sushi or Korean BBQ? Or both? Since we craved protein, we were quickly seated at a table with an embedded grill. We’d order whatever meat we wanted from their menu- Bulgogi, marinated pork, squid, etc and it would arrive raw and seasoned and ready to be grilled. Unlimited sides (aka Banchan) such as Kimchi, pickled radishes, bean sprouts and more were also on the table ready to enhance the meat . The grilling part is fun and it’s very easy to get full here. Although it was just Hubs and I, this is better recommended for groups of three or more so you can try even more meat by sharing.

VegasFood02 Biwon Korean BBQ spread
[Biwon Korean BBQ] Collection of Banchan as well as marinated beef on the grill

JINYA RAMEN

This is Ramen I know I’ll be dreaming about. My Premium Black Jinya Tonkotsu featured a highly complicated but very flavorful broth including a scalding hot black sauce poured into one side and dabs of spicy sauce sprinkled above. My belly was satisfied with all the components from the texture of the noodles to the seaweed, soft boiled egg, and incredibly soft pork slices. Whether it was the garlicky Cha Cha Cha ramen, the Takoyaki (octopus pieces inside bready balls and covered with too much sauce) or Poke Tacos (soft, raw Tuna inside a crunchy shell) we enjoyed everything. This busy, casual restaurant also featured large communal tables and a great view into the kitchen.

VegasFood02 Jinya - Two ramens
[Left] The delicious and complicated Premium Black Jinya Tonkotsu Ramen [Right] The garlicky Cha Cha Cha Ramen

IN CONCLUSION

Even if you had to use a ride-share (like Uber or Lyft which are plentiful here) the overall price paid for eating off the Strip was still lower than our meals on. And the tasty factor was often much higher. It was so so so worth it. Next time I’m in this paradise of play, I think I’ll just head straight for all the goodness off the Strip and chow down the happiness.

To read about my list of restaurants conquered on the Strip, just click here.

 

 

 

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