Game for Posh Burgers and Plenty of Pleasant Surprises at Zenshin

Fine Irishman Conrad Gallagher won a Michelin star for his superlative cooking at Dublin’s Peacock Alley; now, some of the tricks of his trade are on hand at Posh Burger (9921 W. Charleston Blvd., 201-1408), an upscale Westside burger joint where your patty might be just as easily made of duck, elk, ostrich or lamb, as turkey or Kobe beef.

The concept here is convivial. Seating is at long, blond wooden benches, so you’ll have to socialize with your neighbor, or at least, sit in close proximity to him. Sure, you can go the $29 Kobe burger route, and if you do, you’ll get an excellent piece of meat on a tasty brioche bun made in house, loaded to the gills with truffle aioli, seared foie gras, frizzled onion, watercress, cherry tomatoes and a fried quail egg—if you can handle all that.

Me, I’m more of a purist, so I like my burgers relatively unadorned, especially the wild boar burger, or one made from venison. And Gallagher’s meats have a pedigree. They are all natural, free-range, grass-fed, sustainable and pesticide free. Alice Waters must approve, we’d speculate.

Don’t miss starters such as terrific salmon rillettes on crusty bread; wild oysters topped with pear, cucumber and cilantro; or corn on the cob with smoked chili butter, coriander and sea salt. Warm chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream, the signature dessert, is what won him that star, a manager said as I pondered the menu. It’s worth two.

Meanwhile, on the south end of the Strip, well-traveled Asian chef Terence Fong (LVH, Osaka) is the creator behind the new pan-Asian restaurant Zenshin in the South Point Casino (796-7111). The menu here is mostly Japanese, but there are a few Chinese dishes here as well, and the food will come as a happy surprise.

The atmosphere is on the stark side. One room faces the casino floor, without much in the way of embellishment, and there is a side room affording more privacy, but still bare in terms of décor. Service is performed by a friendly team of primarily Asian-Americans, many of whom seem to be from Hawaii, like Fong himself. And they know this food.

One evening, I cut my teeth on edamame (Japanese green soybeans), tossed in chili and garlic, a brilliant conceit that no one at the table could stop eating. The oxtail soup made a big impression, one of the more hearty specials offered at times here.

Naturally, there are a few dozen types of silly sushi rolls, plus the usual sushi suspects. Pass on the bizarre salmon-skin salad, made with pieces of salmon skin that have been deep-fried to resemble pork rinds. Ditto the greasy, over-fried soft-shell crab stack.

But do try the delicious, generously portioned Korean-style barbecued short ribs, and the chahan, Japanese fried rice flecked with bits of egg, onion and assorted meats. For dessert, the coconut bread pudding will rock your world.

Hungry, yet?

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