Every week at Vegas Test Kitchen features a different group of pop-up restaurants and chef residencies on the weekends. Jolene Mannina’s new test kitchen inside the former Chow space now owned by Fergusons Downtown gives chefs a chance to try out their fare with customers before committing to opening their own restaurants.
Take chef Lanny Chin, for example. He has a three-month residency with Slurp Society with a menu of tankatsu ramen, miso ramen, and maze-men, as well as his Chin family egg rolls, sticky pork belly, and chili garlic wontons. Chin, who won on Chopped, was the chef de cuisine for The Slanted Door at the Forum Shops at Caesars and Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms, and more. He’s spent his pandemic doing pop-up dinners at DW Bistro and wants to test out his dishes with a wider audience before deciding to open his own restaurant. Diners can order his dishes for takeout or dine in from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.
Chefs Roy Ellamar of Harvest at the Bellagio and Chris Conlon of Piero’s Italian Cuisine plan to hold their own pop-ups in the coming months. Both plan to open their own venues at Platform One at UnCommons, Las Vegas’ first neighborhood food hall, in early 2022.
Vegas Test Kitchen also features food stalls where chefs can serve their dishes. Phyto’s Vegan Eats arrives on January 2 with vegan hot dogs, while Mariana Alvarado tests out her Masazul, which has been making the rounds at local farmers markets, on January 9 and 23. Alvarado plans to serve tetelas, triangular masa pockets filled with meat or vegan options such as mole and lions with lion’s mane mushrooms and roasted cauliflower, beef brisket tinga and tomatillo crema, roasted poblano pepper and roasted corn, or even crickets.
Other vendors include Nina Manchev of Forte Tapas, who is serving baniza, a traditional Bulgarian street food with a flaky crust layered with imported European cheeses.
Rooster Boy Cafe’s Sonia El-Nawal features her New York-style bagels at Bodega Bagel, which also offers house-made gravlax, white fish salad, and a variety of schmears (including a vegan option).
Pastry chef Andrea McLean brings Pop N Pies with pies by the slice. Recent pies include peanut butter chocolate, apple crumble, and blueberry crumble. McLean works as a pastry sous chef for L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and formerly worked at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon.
Sliced from chef Sung Park, previously the executive chef of Sake Rok, serves sushi, while Yukon Pizza from Alex White features sourdough wood-fired pizza that is made with 120-year-old family heirloom starter. Yukon has a sourdough Margherita, Neapolitan pepperoni, and a vegan option, among others.
Every day is a little different, with some vendors serving only on certain days and others dishing all the time. New vendors plan to slot in all the time. Of course the best way to keep in the know is to sign up for the venue’s newsletter.
On Saturday and Sunday nights open, Mannina plans to host special events, rent out the space for private events, and more.