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Jan 23, 2008 01:03 PM

Ethnic Vegas--Up to Par?

HI All: I'm asking this with the best of intentions, not wanting to get anyone riled, but a lively debate is always interesting! What do the 'hounds think of ethnic food in Vegas? I ask this because I've been to several places recommended on these boards (Lotus of Siam, a Malaysian restaurant, the Moroccan place on Paradise, the Indian place on Paradise) and come away pretty disappointed.

While none of the meals have been terrible, they haven't been as good as the Thai or Indian or Moroccan I've had at home (I'm from the Wash, DC area). Are my taste buds just off, or is there something a little amiss in the Vegas ethnic restaurant scene?

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  1. I agree with you that Lotus of Siam is over-hyped. However, if you are referring to Origin of India (India Oven, Shalimar, and Ghandi are in the same general area) I think it is one of the best I've eaten at including London.

    The best dining in Vegas versus other cities is in buffets, steak, French and seafood. Mexican is surprisingly rather weak here. Chinese is okay but Japanese is better. Moroccan is okay and Middle Eastern is less so.

    3 Replies
    1. re: masstech

      Origin of India is terrific. There are also other very good Thai restaurants besides Lotus, including a new, attractive Pin Kao. There is great sushi at various places throughout the valley and there is good Vietnamese in Chinatown. I agree Mexican is weak in LV.

      For what it's worth, I think various parts of the US have varying strenghts for ethnic food. For example, in addition to the obvious places like Arizona, Chicago has a terrific breadth and variety of Mexican food. So I don't know if any one city has the market cornered...

      1. re: lvnvflyer

        Pin Kaow is a great place; been going to the original one on Rainbow/95 for years. Not quite in the league of LOS, but very good.

        Gotta disagree with all the Mex food haters. Lindo (or Bonita or Viva) Michocan, Agave, Mariana's Supermercado, Casa Don Juan, Dona Maria's, El Sombrero, Diego's, Isla's, Frank & Fina's Cocina, Viva Mercado's, Pink Taco. Hell, even the Tacos Mexico take away places. There's two weeks' worth of bueno grub right there, whether you want a 75 cent taco, or a Bayless-style Mexican fine dining experience.

        1. re: Vegass Vick

          With the exception of Casa Don Juan and El Sombrero, I have eaten at all those restaurants. I think the food in San Antonio, TX is quite a bit better and Chicago (Topolobampo/Frontera) even better still.

          Of the ones mentioned, Isla is not bad and my Vegas favorite but not as good as Maya and Pampano for the Sandoval fans which I am one of the many.

          Galeria's is slow and the food is not that consistent but when they get up and running at full speed can probably take over second place in Vegas in a month or so. Michoacan's and the Frank and Fina's are ahead of them for now. Just stick with their Mole dishes for now.

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      1. good question - good post - i live in so cal and vegas and travel as much as possible ...sad to say my 4 trips to dc i was unable to partake in the local ethnic cuisine.

        as to asian i have visited thailand, japan, korea and i've enjoyed many asian restaurants in so cal, sf and of course SO is chinese and has visited and lived in most asian countries....she and i argue all the time about the quality of the vegas food scene.

        that being said, the spring mtn corridor has some decent ethnic restaurants - will it be better than your local favs...probably not...but still these places are worth visiting - i wrote recently on another post about our current favs in the area ( sadly, we cannot help you on morrocan food ) - the latest fav is ichiza ain't high end...not being japanese, can't even comment on it's sense it's almost fusion...i call it upscale-pub time in town, give it a try.

        LOS - i too, feel it's a little over-rated, but damn, i've been to thailand several times eating at local places, where you are served the freshest possible food - the fish are still squirming, the ingredients literally taken from the backyard gardens...amazing foods...especially the, it's tough to make comparisons...but i feel LOS is a cut above....curious what you tried when you visited LOS

        keep in mind, the vegas ethnic scene is truly in it's infancy, it's evolving - you are starting to see some places falling off the vine, i'm not sure what direction it's heading in, i think it will be very similar to other metropolitan areas yet, i don't know another metro area that relies on tourism as much as vegas does ( sure nyc, la, sf, miami, orlando, etc rely on tourism...but not like vegas ) and this definitely factors into the vegas food scene.

        are your taste buds off. ?? maybe, maybe not, but based on your limited exposure, i think you need to try several more places before a true conclusion can be reached.

        happy eating !!

        1 Reply
        1. Having spent the last 20 years exploring the nooks and crannies of Las Vegas dining, here is one of the real keys in terms of ethnic cuisine - this really was a desert 10 years ago. Whereas more traditional cities have had the opportunities to develop over time, and for some restaurants to play to captive audiences in their own neighborhoods (always a key in terms of authenticity), it would not be much of a stretch to state that about 90% of the ethnic places that get mentioned on these boards were not even here at the turn of the millennium. Part of the problem was a small population base, which did not create a demand for diversity. Not too long ago this really was nothing more than a resort in the desert. But that is all changing in an exciting way, and over the last decade we are finally getting ethnic restaurants doing things "their way", instead of catering towards North American palates. That is what happens when the Las Vegas valley reaches two million inhabitants, and enough diversity to support the kind of restaurants that have flourished in New York, Washington and San Francisco for decades. The ethnic dining scene, in reality, is still in its infancy, but making up for lost time at an accelerated pace.

          1. I think it is hard to compare or generalize unless you've eaten at as many places and as often in Vegas as you have at home.Even then....

            Personally, I've eaten at one Thai Restaurant in Vegas (Lotus of Siam; have eaten there more than once) and one in the DC area (Thai Square in Arlington, have eaten there once) and both were great, but I enjoyed Lotus of Siam more. All that says is that I enjoyed LOS more, it doesn't say anything about the ethnic restaurant scene in general in either city....

            I do think that if one is going to make general comparisons, one should not compare apples and oranges, and while I am not an expert on either area, my sense is that the demographics, economy and size of the two metropolitan regions of Vegas and DC are quite different, which in turn would seem to be a factor in the restaurant business....