April 29th, 2008

Aloha Kitchen

I got in late last night, but totient had a suggestion for a late dinner. He said it was a tb and frotz recommendation, which in my book means it's something to check out. Also, one of the branches is open very late.

Aloha Kitchen
2605 South Decatur Blvd., Suite 110
Las Vegas, NV 89102
tel: +1.702.364.0064
fax: +1.702.364.9282
http://www.alohakitchenlv.com/
7 days: 0700-0500
Cards: MC/Visa/AmEx/Discover

Two other locations in Las Vegas, at 4745 South Maryland Pkwy. and 4466 East Charleston Blvd.

My last Hawaiian Barbeque experience had been a bit disappointing, but I was certainly willing to give it another try, particularly on a recommendation. I'm glad I did.

We started with the Lumpia Shanghai ($2.99), thin, crispy egg rolls filled with ground pork, which came with a sweet chili sauce. They were fine but nothing particularly special.

totient got the Kalua Pig and Katsu Combo ($7.49) and I got the Mix Plate (also $7.49). He made the better choice. The Kalua Pig--shredded pork with cabbage--was excellent. Flavorful and moist, it was the highlight of the meal. The chicken katsu wasn't bad, either, pleasantly breaded and a bit less oily than usual. My mix plate came with teriyaki chicken, beef, and mahi-mahi. The mahi-mahi was a thin slice, fried. At first it looked like a fried egg. Alas, it was rather bland and limp. The teriyaki chicken wasn't bad, but it was pretty much generic teriyaki chicken, although reasonably well executed. The beef was better, tasty but a bit chewier than I like.

Both meals were accompanied by the standard white rice and macaroni salad. Both competently done, but we both reached our limit of macaroni salad pretty early.

Aloha Kitchen serves good Hawaiian at a reasonable price. I'm thinking I'll be going back for the kalua pig.

(Thanks for the pointer!)
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Lotus of Siam

I was surfing around looking for a place to have lunch. It seemed like everyone though Lotus of Siam was a must. And it was nearby, and off the strip. Sure.

Lotus of Siam
953 E. Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104
tel: +1.702.735.3033
http://www.saipinchutima.com/
M-Th: 1130-1430 lunch; 1730-2130 dinner
F: 1130-1430 lunch; 1730-2200 dinner
Sa-Su: 1730-2200 dinner only
Reservations recommended one day in advance for dinner.

Lotus of Siam is one of those Asian strip mall restaurants that looks very unassuming from the outside. In fact, the strip mail is set up with its back to the road, so until you actually drive in, you can't even see it. It's there. Look for the mall sign saying 953, pull in, turn right and drive along the strip mall. It'll be about halfway down.

I went for lunch, when their $8.99 buffet is featured, so I can't say whether it's "the single best Thai restaurant in North America", as Jonathan Gold of Gourmet magazine claimed. The steam-table isn't kind to food, so I'm sure I didn't sample Lotus of Siam's dishes at their best. Despite this handicap, they managed serve rather good food.

Highlights included the Spicy Chili Mint Chicken, with basil, green peppers, broccoli, onion, cucumber, and ground chicken. It did have quite a bit of heat, but it wasn't an overwhelmingly spicy dish. The spice was one constituent of a very complex and delicious taste. The Pad Thai was also notable, sweet with a noticeable but not overwhelming bite.

I also enjoyed the Tom Kah (sic) Vegetable soup, with cabbage and baby corn. It had the kind of spiciness that creates a warm glow, which went well with the creaminess of the soup.

The overall impression I had of these dishes was of tastes in balance: not too much pepper, not too much basil, even not too much cilantro for me as a soap taster.

Lotus of Siam managed to deliver a good meal via steam table. I can only imagine what they're like when you actually order dishes from the menu.