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Street Foodie: Spring Mountain Roll

Brent Holmes
Brent Holmes

Street Foodie gorges on the culinary glory of our ever-changing Chinatown

Street Foodie feels inadequate. Any attempt to fully describe the culinary landscape of Spring Mountain Road is doomed to fall short. Chinatown is loaded with style, meaning, culture, and, most of all, flavor. Of course, Chinatown is a misleading designation; it’s really a pan-Asian playground, a panoply of not just Chinese food, but nearly any type of Asian cuisine one could ask for on one street. So much, in fact, that the only way to illustrate its richness within Street Foodie’s limitations of time, page space, and gastrointestinal fortitude, is to treat the delights on one block — from Wynn Road to Arville Street — as a microcosm of the ever-changing whole. We hope it entices you to further explore this district, the culinary heart of this place we call home.

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Pig's ears at Noodle Pot.

Noodle Pot Try the pig’s ear. Yes, the pig’s ear, done Szechuan-style and served cold-sliced. With its bouncy, spicy, tongue-numbing taste, this is my go-to dish here. The way its flavors transform across the palate, from pepper-hot to minty, with a sour-salty back end, is something you won’t experience many other places. Less adventurous? I suggest the chive dumplings or the beef-and-tendon soup. This overlooked gem makes classic Taiwanese cuisine that has filled Street Foodie’s tummy for a decade. 4215 W. Spring Mountain Road, 702-522-8989

Beef and Eggs lunch at Yummy Rice.

Yummy Rice A welcome newcomer in the new Shanghai Plaza, Yummy Rice brings exactly what it promises. The beef and eggs lunch is thick slices of beef and split bok choy with a poached egg on top, plus a sweet soy sauce, all on a sizzling bowl of perfectly crisped rice. Like stone-pot bibimbap but with Cantonese root. 4266 W. Spring Mountain Road, 702-331-3789

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TakoPa New to the original Chinatown mall, and created by the beautiful minds that brought us Isakaya Go, TakoPa proves there’s more than one way to fry a ’pus. That is, a flight of takoyaki, balls of dough containing octopus dressed with a variety of toppings from sweet to spicy. Then try Street Foodie’s favorite Japanese dish: okonomiyaki, a pancake filled with cabbage, vegetables, and seafood, topped with bacon, and griddled till the edges are crisp and the body is fluffy. 4215 W. Spring Mountain Road, 702-445-6343


No. 1 Boba Tea The word venerable comes to mind. This place has been serving boba since before boba was cool — since 1998, to be exact. If you want a challenge, get the durian slush, with a flavor somewhere between burnt garlic and vanilla custard; somehow, it’s compelling. You can’t go wrong with the taro-milk tea, which tastes like a cookie married a potato and made a delicious baby. 4255 W. Spring Mountain Road, 702-364-4724

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Side-dishes at Mr. Soon Tofu.

Mr. Soon Tofu Another welcome addition to the Chinatown scene. This place has its side-dish game on point; the bulgogi is great; and the broiled mackerel is superbly seasoned. But nothing comes close to the “fiery pillows,” the tteok-bokki, a dish of rice noodles and fish cake in a bright red chili sauce that will wake up even the sleepiest diner. 4355 W. Spring Mountain Road, 725-251-5237


Noodle Papa Street Foodie was looking for a Noodle Papa but found a curry daddy at this new eatery in Shanghai Plaza. Its spicy noodle soup is quite good. But your humble Street Foodie went in on a bowl of one of the finest Chinese-style beef curries he’s had. Every bite is a tribute to complicated heat ascending through well-spiced chunks of vegetable and meat. 4276 W. Spring Mountain Road, 725-251-2078


Pho Kinh Do You can’t talk about Chinatown without talking about pho, and if you talk about pho you have to talk about broth, and Pho Kin Do has some of the tastiest broth around. 4300 W. Spring Mountain Road, 702-253-0199


Yi Mei Champion Taiwan Deli It has a cozy interior and a lengthy menu rife with questionable uses of the word pancake. The radish pancake is a thick rectangle of fried radish with the savory notes of garlic bread plus Asian culinary undertones — it’s dense and soft and satisfyingly simple. The leek and chives pancake is a buttery pastry; the oyster pancake is an omelet with gravy and plump whole oysters, a perfect mermaid breakfast. 4300 W. Spring Mountain Road, 702-222-3435


Ichiza The love affair between Street Foodie and Ichiza is long. Well before Raku, Ichiza was the gold standard for late-night Japanese cuisine. Here’s a partial list of what Street Foodie recently consumed in a flurry of chopsticks: tuna tartare, fried squid, broiled mackerel, broiled squid. All wonderful. It’s difficult to say what Ichiza does best — other than bring joy to everyone who comes in. 4355 W. Spring Mountain Road, 702-367-3151


Crown Bakery The fried mochi here is the gut bomb you’re looking for after a long night out. For a late-morning cup of coffee, add the choco-almond cookie-bread biscuits with a crunchy almond-sliver latticework. Once a national Korean chain, this is the only Crown Bakery left on Earth. We’re glad it’s here. 4355 W. Spring Mountain Road, 702-873-9805


(Editor's note: Brent Holmes no longer works for Nevada Public Radio)