Flava Flav only throws grease onto Las Vegas’ ethnic food crisis—give me Persian!

Pho at TI is the only Vietnamese restaurant in a major Strip casino. Recently, the restaurant added several Chinese dishes to the menu, such as kung pao chicken, beef chow fun and Singapore rice noodle. Some may see this as a positive development, but not this reporter. I see it as further proof that overly ethnic restaurants cannot make it in a mainstream casino. That, coupled with the recent closing of Bosa 1 at 3400 S. Jones Blvd., our best Vietnamese restaurant, puts me in a funk. We still have a long way to go before we can call our city an ethnic food destination.

We could use, for instance, an upscale Persian restaurant, such as Zaré at Flytrap in San Francisco, where chef Hoss Zaré is doing a menu to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian calendar New Year. I recently ate several dishes there that we don’t get to enjoy in Las Vegas, such as Tabrizi meatballs stuffed with prunes and almonds, head-to-tail goat with quinoa and charmoula, and torshi, ultra-sour Persian pickled vegetables.

Still, this doesn’t imply that there aren’t interesting ethnic options here. David Wong’s Pan-Asian has its loyal fans, and indeed, the cooking in this modest place (2980 Durango Drive, 629-7464) can often be creative and interesting. Wong, despite the name, is Thai, as is the menu here with a few exceptions. One night his chefs made me a delicious duck curry with green and red peppers, cashews, pineapple and a light yellow curry sauce. I’ve also eaten the restaurant’s vaunted pad see ew noodles (which I find disarmingly sweet), reasonably good chicken ravioli with sesame sauce and pork rice noodles soup, which is mostly noodles, and has not enough broth.

And that brings me to the hype about Flavor Flav’s House of Flavor, the new fried-chicken joint (3333 S. Maryland Parkway at Desert Inn Road, 735-2869) owned by Flav, the former Public Enemy rapper and hype man. When I arrived, there was a line out the door and the kitchen ran out of the pieces I ordered. The manager, though, was completely gracious. He apologized, and gave me extra chicken wings. Unfortunately, I don’t find anything compelling or unusual about this chicken, in spite of the cashier’s boast that “Flav invented the seasonings himself.” I’d prefer to eat chicken next door, in fact, at the Jammin Jerk Hut (433-3303), where a Jamaican lady, Erica Strawberry, has killer oxtails, jerk ribs and a terrific tamarind-pineapple punch.

Hungry, yet?

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