Fusion’s Evolution

At Match, the dishes range from Korean barbecue to Russian stuffed cabbage, and somehow it all deliciously works together

Photo by Anthony MairOne of the star tapas: Dragon Balls.

Photo by Anthony MairMatch features tables with built-in burners, to make your own Korean barbecue.

Photo by Anthony MairMatch features tables with built-in burners, to make your own Korean barbecue.

Fusion restaurants have become a way of life, and if you have any doubts, check out Match, a cosmopolitan tapas bar and Korean barbecue. At first, the concept seems a little goofy. But strangely enough, it works.

The restaurant belongs to Gregory Arianoff, who has a Russian/Spanish background. He shares his kitchen with two chefs: One is Chinese; the other Japanese/Korean. Their take on these ethnic cuisines has a ring of authenticity rarely found in the ’burbs.

Match is a handsomely appointed place in a typical Vegas strip mall in the southeastern part of the city. You enter through a bar, into a large room where tables have marble tops, stainless steel hoods and built-in burners, like in a traditional Korean barbecue restaurant. There are three fully equipped private karaoke rooms in the rear, which serve up to eight people. Spend more than $75 on food and the use of the karaoke room and machine is available at no extra charge.

On my first few visits, the menu was all over the map, but Arianoff recently cut it down to size, to eliminate repetition and confusion. The selection remains as eclectic as the law allows, though. How about an appetizer like monkfish liver, followed by Spanish potato croquettes, a Russian stuffed-cabbage entrée and Portuguese/Hawaiian doughnuts (malasadas) for dessert?

I have to admit being more impressed by the Asian fare. Possibly my favorite dish on the menu is kimchi fried rice, a festive, wok-fried dish made with fresh white marble pork, napa cabbage, egg and just enough of the red chili that makes kimchi so intimidating to give it a nice kick.

Match’s biggest seller, though, is Dragon Balls. They’re wonderful, if you can get your mind around the name. Picture golf-ball-size, crunchy nuggets coated with a flour and egg batter. Inside, there is chopped tuna, onions and green pepper, and the whole shebang is drizzled with eel sauce.

Monkfish liver, in pink slices, is what some people call “Japanese foie gras,” for its creamy texture and mild, rich flavor. Don’t be afraid to try some. It’s a wonderful beer dish. Tortilla Española is like a stiff potato omelet served cold, in wedges—a credible if not interesting version. And I’d come back for cabbage with bacon, but it was cut from the menu.

As to the larger plates, I can’t recommend the roast duck. Match, like so many Vegas restaurants, deep-fries its duck and calls it roasted. How about more truth in menu, boys? And galoubsis, which is Russian for stuffed cabbage, was bland, in a milky white sauce I didn’t care for.

If you opt for Korean barbecue, you can cook it at your table, or take the low road and let the boys in the kitchen do it. We got low, and the beef short ribs, a.k.a. kalbi, were delicious, nicely grilled and redolent of sesame and garlic, with good Korean sides such as yellow bean sprouts.

If you opt for dessert, I’d go for the strawberry mochi ice cream, in tiny New Age cubes with a pounded rice shell. Match’s freezer really works, by the way; I had to wait 10 minutes for them to thaw.

And, lastly, if you use the karaoke machine … please, no Elvis impersonators.

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