Asian food and drink reigned supreme on Saturday night when the first Luckyrice Vegas Night Market took over the Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The event marked the first time Luckyrice ventured outside of New York. More than 20 chefs from Vegas and across the country cooked up their dishes at booths peppered over two levels of the pools.
VIPs who got in early had an easy time landing dishes such as the rack of lamb Thailandaise from Susur Lee, the mind behind Lee in Toronto and a Luckyrice Culinary Council member. Pichet Ong of Qi in New York served olive oil torrejas with strawberries and maldon salt. Upstairs, Angelo Sosa of Social Eatz in New York brought a blowtorch to sizzle sashimi of fluke with bone marrow and parmesan reggiano before handing it over to guests on a hunk of bone.
Lines got much longer later for Paul Qui, who flew in from Uchi in Austin, Texas, to dish up his sunchoke dashi with summer vegetables and uni bottarga, but it was worth the wait.
Other chefs such as Charles Phan of Slanted Door in San Francisco rolled in to Vegas with garlic beef rolls, Thai basil and house made sriracha. Jet Tila made his return to Vegas representing his new restaurant, The Charleston in Santa Monica, Calif. Full of good cheer, Tila dished out a braised short rib taco with brussel sprouts and Kochujang salsa along with a crispy pork belly buns with hoisin and Japanese pickle from his tucked away booth.
Lines for Eddie Huang grew to outrageously long (“Is it worth it? “He’s from New York.” “Yeah, but is it worth it?”) as guests waited for his BaoHaus sous-vide char siu pork with cucumer, cilantro, tza tsai, shwan tsai, Taiwanese red sugar and crushed peanuts.
Jordan Kahn out of Red Medicine in Los Angeles put together chicken dumplings dolled out in caramelized sugar, pork fat, lemongrass and confitures.
On the Vegas front, chefs represented Sin City by taking on Asian dishes, even though they may not have been their specialty. David Myers of Comme Ça never has a problem going avant-garde with dishes, and on Saturday dodged French for the amadai no hana-age, a deep-fried tilefish with pickled lotus and charred tomato and sudachi vinaigrette. Gerald Chin from Wicked Spoon paired Szechuan-fried sweetbreads with compressed watermelon. Even the steakhouse STK made a short rib pot sticker from Stephen Hopcraft.
Restaurants off-Strip even got a little love. Saipin Chutima of Lotus of Siam, Colin Fukunaga and Robert “Mags” Magsalin of Fukuburger, Takashi Segawa of Monta and Mitsuo Endo of Raku were all on hand.
Once 8 p.m. rolled around, the lines, and waits, grew maddening. If the crowds could brave the 20- to 30-minute waits for just a bite of food, they came out satisfied.
UPDATE: While overall readers liked the concept of the event, they didn't like the shortage of food and the insanely long lines. Eater Vegas readers are reporting that food ran out long before closing time at 11 p.m. Another says that many of the booths closed by 9 p.m. Line control also seemed to be an issue.
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