We ate so much great food in Las Vegas last week. It’s basically the entire reason I tagged along on Tom’s work trip. I’ll have a full post coming up soon about everything we did, but first I have to rave about our favorite meal of the trip. I’ve been to Vegas several times, and over time I’ve really come to love the downtown area. The strip can start to wear on you fast with its high prices and glitz to the point of gaudiness, but downtown is something else entirely. There are a lot of really cool, low-key restaurants and I couldn’t wait to explore this culinary area of the city. Chow. is a Chinese and Southern-inspired eatery helmed by Natalie Young who really put downtown Vegas on the map by opening sister restaurant Eat.
It was hard to decide between Eat. and Chow. but ultimately we embraced our love of Chinese food and went with the latter. We arrived for a very late lunch so we were able to enjoy the bright, colorful space all to ourselves.
Tom was jealous of a solo trip I took to Momofuku earlier in the trip. So he started out with the pork belly bao bun with spicy bbq, sweet cucumber pickle, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.
Sadly, it didn’t quite hold up to Momofuku’s, as the pork was overly chewy. It had great flavor, though, so there’s definitely potential.
We definitely didn’t go light on our orders at this meal, but did at least go heavy on the veggies. Up first, a crispy spicy shrimp salad with honey sambal, kale and orange vinaigrette.
I loved this salad with its combination of spicy and sweet and a bevy of fresh vegetables. Although listed as a starter, this could easily serve as a light entrée. We probably wouldn’t have ordered quite so much food if we’d known the portion sizes were so generous. In DC, a $10 appetizer would not be nearly this large, more like a couple of shrimp topped with some kale garnish. So we also ordered a side salad, which also came out in a heaping quantity, and a side of collard greens with chow chow (that sadly were not delicious). But hey, if vegetable gluttony is my worst sin in Sin City I’ll take it.
Next up, a riced cauliflower stir fry with shiitake mushrooms, onions, carrots, red peppers and Chinese long beans.
I really loved that they offered this low carb version of a Chinese classic. Compared to some of our other orders, this wasn’t the most exciting or flavorful but it was nice, light dish I’d order as a guilt-free lunch over and over.
Of course, we couldn’t go to a Chinese restaurant called Chow. without ordering the chow fun with XO sauce.
This plate really put the fun in chow fun. Okay, that was corny, but seriously I just had a great time eating it. The classic dish was combined with sweet chinese pork sausage, chinese broccoli, bean sprouts and seasonal veggies. The texture of the noodles was pure perfection, and the veggies were nice and crisp.
We stuck Chinese offerings on the menu, but I simply could not resist ordering the southern-inspired old school banana pudding.
Banana pudding is one of those things that if it’s on a menu, I have to order it. (Same goes for key lime pie.) And oh my, my, my was this ever worth it. The consistency was rich and creamy, with no hint of fake banana flavor. Large chunks of real banana and must-have vanilla wafers clinched it: pure heaven in dessert form. Why isn’t banana pudding more of a thing? It definitely should be.
This lunch set the tone for a fun evening hanging out on Fremont Street. I highly recommend getting off the strip and exploring some of the homegrown culinary gems downtown. Your stomach and your wallet will thank you.