I love to unearth delicious foods in unlikely places, so it’s a shame that I didn’t discover Chef Sheridan Su (former Executive Chef at Comme Ca) when he was serving up Bao to long lines of customers in the back of a hair salon. I’m sure that would have made for an epic tale. After that, Chef Su went mobile with his operation, starting up the “Great Bao” gourmet food truck. Sadly, I missed that as well. By the time I was ready to venture out and place an order at his truck, Su had parked it.
I finally tracked down Su at his latest digs, the Fat Choy restaurant in the Eureka Casino at 595 East Sahara. Fat Choy replaces the old coffee shop for this small locals casino, maintaining a few select items from the original menu and adding in Su’s specialties. So, it’s Asian American fare – as in you can still get a burger (with bacon, cheddar, egg and short rib) or (kalbi) steak and eggs, but the real reason to come here is the bao. I ordered one of each of their bao offerings on my weekday visit, and now I know why people lined up in a hair salon to eat this man’s food.
If you’re familiar with the little baskets of Chinese dumplings (bao) at dim sum, then this is the somewhat deconstructed, gourmet version. You get a soft circle of steamed dough about five inches round and maybe half and inch thick, folded over duck confit or braised pork belly and topped with tasty sauces and fresh vegetables and spices. It eats sort of like a cross between a sandwich and a taco – definitely finger food.
I dove into the Peking Duck Bao ($7) first. It contains flavorful duck, cucumber and scallion with a tangy hoisin sauce. It tastes fresh and flavorful, but the duck, being, well… meaty, makes this bao hard to keep together while you eat. It’s worth the effort though. Just make sure any stray bits fall on your plate so you can scoop them back up again. It’s a good dish, but if you can only try one (and I’m a huge fan of duck), go for the pork belly.It’s not that the peking duck isn’t good enough to recommend, but the Pork Belly Bao ($7) are truly amazing! The pork belly is marinated overnight, braised 6 hours and topped with mustard greens, peanut and fresh cilantro. The pork belly is soft and flavorful like none I have ever tasted. This bao holds together beautifully because the pork belly comes out even more tender than the steamed dough that surrounds it. The wonderful flavors of this bao lingered on my palate even after a few sips of their fresh brewed iced tea ($1.65). Food like this, I believe, is why people have followed Chef Su wherever he chooses to cook.
Service was very friendly and attentive. Without any provocation on my part, I was rewarded with my choice of free dessert because the waitress felt I had been kept waiting too long (perhaps the food came out a touch slow, but I hadn’t begun to loose patience). I chose the Boston Creme Bundt Cake ($3). It was a small, personal sized yellow bundt cake, fairly solid and sweet with Boston creme flavor frosting on top and filling the center. There was a light drizzle of chocolate on top. This was good, but having grown up on Boston creme doughnuts, I’d say it needs a bit more chocolate and a little less creme. It’s still good as is, especially if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, and a bargain at only three bucks.
The bao alone is worth the trip to this little restaurant. Get there before the rest of the foodie world hears that they can get Chef Su’s delicious pork belly bao in the latest of unlikely places – inside the Eureka locals casino on East Sahara. Soon, I’m sure, they will once again be beating a path to his door.
- Fat choy is a Chinese vegetable that, when prepared, looks an awful lot like human hair. Clever, eh?
- Fat Choy is open Monday – Thursday 11am – 10pm, Friday – Saturday 11am – Midnight and Sunday 9am – 10pm.
- If you want your bao vegetarian style, hit up the Sunday Brunch (all day Sunday) for Tofu and Mushroom Bao ($6) and save a buck over its meaty brethren.
- In addition to the iced tea, Fat Choy offers bottled sodas, including some Asian specialties ($3), canned soda ($2) and beer ($4.50 Stella, $5.50 Kirin talls).
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