Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thai Style Noodle House

I just love Chinatown, even for the Thai food. My latest discovery, or Ian's rather, is the discreet Thai Style Noodle House located adjacent to the large Chinatown plaza on Wynn Road (a second location on Ft. Apache and Trop opened last year). Not only does it offer some of the best Thai food in Vegas, but the prices are unbeatable.

There isn't much of an ambience, but I like that quality in my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants. And hole in the wall this is. They aren't bringing in drive by traffic, the signage isn't great, and you park in the delivery alley, but the crowd packed in (and sometimes waiting) at lunch speaks volumes of the food and value.

The chicken larb, Ian's favorite, is top notch ($6.95, pictured above). It wan't served traditionally with a cabbage wedge, but rather with chopped iceberg. Though this is a little unconventional, I liked the salad quality of the dish. The green curry fried rice ($7.95) is filled with fresh veggies and tender slices of pork, and has a slightly creamy quality. If there was risotto in Thailand, this would be it. I also enjoyed the Choo Chee Shrimp ($8.95) and Spicy Green Beans with silky chicken ($6.75). The Beef Noodle Soup ($6.50) had an exotic favor sweetened by spices, though the beef itself wasn't as tender as I would have liked.

Everything on the menu is so inexpensive you won't worry about looking at the lunch special menu, but if you are dining alone or just not a "sharing" kind of eater, these options will allow you to try several different item combinations for under $7.

Downside: If the place is very busy, it takes awhile to get your food. The servers are attentive and polite, however, so there is comfort in knowing it isn't taking forever because the staff is slacking off. My suggestion is to avoid peak times, or order take-out.

Thai Style Noodle House
3516 Wynn Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103

5135 S. Ft. Apache #125
Las Vegas, NV 89147

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Forte: A truly European tapas place

Upon entering Forte on my initial visit, my first thought was that it was very European. This wasn't just because it was dead at lunch, as most restaurants in Europe are, but also because of the eccentric decor, dark lounge-like feel, off-the-beaten-path location, and genuine hospitality. That, and the fully stocked bar featuring very cheap glasses of delicious European wines (this I would find out later).

I've over-ordered Forte at twice now, and though I can't say everything on the small plates menu is a winner, I can say I will keep coming back due to the aforementioned charming qualities and a few unique, inexpensive food highlights (sadly, my pictures don't do them justice).

The menu is broken down by European country (mostly Eastern) and their corresponding regional specialties. Under Russia, you won't find any caviar or borscht, but you will find adjarkski kachapurri, which goes down the hatch more easily than it rolls off the tongue ($6.99). This consists of a freshly baked bread loaf akin to a short, fat French baquette, that is hollowed in the center and stuffed with cheese, butter, and a raw egg. If I lost you at 'raw egg' then let me elaborate. The egg is mixed in table-side and is cooked by the heat of the bread, turning the dish into a protein-filled vegetarian friendly dish that will change your mind about Russian food. The flavor of the crusty bread combined with the egg and cheese reminded me of a quiche, yet this was unlike anything I've ever had. Extra (yet unnecessary) points for that!

The section from Spain features a variety of chorizo sausages, amongst other items. We had the chistora and bilbao (each $2.50) which were fantastically charred and of fantastic value. These rivaled the Polish links at Costco as far as sausage bargains go, and were much better in my opinion (sorry, mom).

One note selections included the chicken skewers ($3.25 each), sauteed shrimp ($6.50), and the Bulgarian shopski served in an adorable clay pot ($6.99, and much better at another place I'll review soon). Though there are a few minor flops, the thing I love most about this place is that you can try a lot of different foods you've probably never heard of, and, if you don't like them, you haven't spent enough to regret having given them a whirl.

Coming back to the wine, I ordered a glass of Spanish Cosechero Blanco, which I was told is located nowhere else in Vegas. Guess how much? $4.50!! The owner of the restaurant, who was our waitress on my second visit, and a gem in and of herself, offered to sell me a bottle at wholesale cost when I mentioned I liked it. So, I got a bottle for later that cost me just $8.20. That pretty much sealed the deal for me!

This is a place you have to be experimental and open-minded to go to, but if you appreciate other cultures and want to join me on my mission to support the mom and pops in Vegas, then you'll have no trouble mustering the strength to go to Forte.

4180 Rainbow. Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 220-3876