Las Vegas Chinatown - Places to Eat or Food Shop?
I'm new to the Vegas Chowhound board (I'm usually in the Manhattan, NYC boards).
Anyway, I'm planning to spend 4 nights in Vegas near Easter and I'm intending to head over to Vegas' Chinatown for a day (or two, if necessary). I would like to know what is worth eating there? I'm Chinese and I frequent to Flushing on a weekly basis so if you have any suggestions as to where to eat or even do food shopping, I really appreciate it!
Thanks in advance,
The Wandering Eater
Based on your background, you may find Chinatown here to be a little disappointing. The development has been fascinating to watch, with that area growing steadily in recent years while other parts of the Valley show noticeable signs of decline, and the stretch runs about four miles now, from Spring Mountain and Vegas Valley to the plaza that hosts Greenland Market on Spring Mountain and Rainbow. But while the offerings are numerous, and the quality respectable, there are not many true stand-outs.
Here is the gist - when the first development took place, the majority of the restaurants were sister properties to places from Southern California (Sam Woo BBQ, Yun Nan Garden, etc.). Much of the second wave has been led by workers from those first restaurants branching out to open up their own places (HK Star, Wendy's Noodle Cafe, etc.). So we have not been filled with bold or daring places, instead restaurants focusing on making economic models work. That is not necessarily a bad thing - it leaves us with a lot of options, and reasonable price points. But for someone from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Vancouver, there is not likely to be anything unique in terms of either scope, or quality. Especially if the focus is on Chinese cuisine - without doing a sophisticated count, the guess would be that perhaps 35-40 percent of the restaurants in the area are Chinese, with plenty of Japanese, Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Korean options opening over the last decade.That lack of uniqueness includes the markets as well - while for those of us who have lived here a long time (more than two decades now, in this instance), having places like Ranch Market, Market 168, or Greenland Supermarket, is a treat. But for what you are likely already accustomed to, they may seem commonplace.
You can get a decent meal here, and satisify most basic cravings, but not sure if there is anything that would set off fireworks from the "Chinese" portion of the Las Vegas menu. Raku, a Japanese gem, is perhaps the one true standout in the area. But if you do have questions about particular types of food, we can at least help to steer you in a good direction, but likely not a great one.
Thanks for your input, QAW.
I'm curious as to what or how the Vegas Chinatown development is like since it's been almost a decade since I last visited at your neck of the woods (and don't recall ever hearing such a town when I was a teenager).
I'm not expecting something close to what other Chinatown's are like but am open to suggestions as what is good around for Asian bakeries?
First, an apology for listing "Vegas Valley" instead of what should have been "Valley View" in the first post, a mluti-tasking stumble.
Think of the area as a rather "modern" development. What started out as a marketing gimmick of creating a Chinatown-themed strip mall has now become a series of strip malls up and down Spring Mountain (and also extending North/South on some of the cross streets, particularly on the first block north on Jones). So you do not necessarily get the inner-city feel, or sense of history, of the Chinatown developments in other cities. If it has been a decade since your last visit, it probably would not be an exaggeration to say that 75-80 percent of the business have come in since then, which means a lot of economic activity, but also just a little sterile in terms of atmosphere.
There are several bakeries that dot the landscape, but we can not be of much help on that front, perhaps others can chime in. The reason is a good one - if you dig through these boards you will find that Ronald's Donuts (4600 Spring Mountain) has quite a following. They have been open for almost 19 years (anniversary in July), long before there was even a thought that the area would develop the way that it has, and because most of their products are vegan, they have made quite a name for themselves. So we have not ventured into many of the other bakeries yet (there is something about a soy cream donut to sooth the palate after a Szechuan or Hunan lunch).
Agree with QAW about Raku being the one standout - lived in vegas for 2 years and sampled most of the strip. most chinese is ok to decent, the korean sucks esp. compared to either coast. Raku is the only place i went back to multiple times, you have not actually ever had agedashi tofu until you have had theirs. homemade tofu, so creamy it's like a souffle. definitely make a reservation, they fill up all the time.
You'd probably be interested in Yun Nan Garden, 3934 Schiff Dr., just behind the Chinatown shopping center off of Wynn Rd., which is the eastern boundary of "Chinatown." I suspect it's related to the Yunnan chain which has a number of locations in the Los Angeles area, and serves authentic Yunnan as well as Sichuan food. As far as I can tell there are no Yunnan style restaurants in New York, so this is something different. Aside from that, while there are a lot of decent authentic Chinese restaurants in Las Vegas, they are a cut below the San Gabriel Valley, better than NY Chinatown, and perhaps at the same level as Flushing.
Also close by Yun Nan Garden is Dong Ting Spring, an authentic Hunan style restaurant. This is also a branch of a San Gabriel Valley restaurant. I know that genuine Hunan food recently arrived in Flushing, but with so few Hunan restaurants outside of the SGV, this may be worth a visit.
Dong Ting Spring
3950 Schiff Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89103
If Flushing's Chinese scene hadn't flourished so much in the last five years, I'd have given a different answer (for example, if all your Chinese eating in NYC was confined to just Chinatown in Manhattan or Sunset Beach), but I have to agree that there is not going to be much that you can't find in Flushing. Chandavki's suggestion of Yun Nan is a good one.
As an example, there was excitement about the Noodle Pot on Spring Mountain: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/756975 but hand-pulled noodles are available in any of the big malls in Flushing. And to me, the star of the show there isn't even the hand-pulled noodles (see the thread).
More than anything in Chinatown, I think Ronald's Donuts does what is hard to find in NYC -- a solid, cake doughnut and a great buttermilk bar. Although the owners/bakers are Chinese, the style is all-American. New York is strong on izakaya, but Raku truly is special, and in particular the tofu beats anything I've had in New York.
It's not in Chinatown, but I don't think you'll find Thai in NY that approaches the quality of Lotus of Siam, and there are many dishes unavailable at any restaurant on the east coast.
Lotus of Siam
953 E Sahara Ave Ste A5, Las Vegas, NV 89104