I spent many hours at the ice rink during my childhood years, and the basic food options were always the overboiled hot dog on a dry bun, soda from a machine that badly needed servicing and soggy fries. So when The Cosmopolitan (cosmopolitanlasvegas.com) magically transformed The Boulevard Pool into The Rink, I was as eager to try the menu as I was to step onto the ice. To my satisfaction, the hearty chicken potpie with two pieces of puff pastry croutons is an instant warm-up on chilly nights. The grilled cheese sandwich, made with sourdough bread and cheddar and Gouda cheese and served with house-made tomato soup, is a classic offering, as is braised short rib poutine. The menu also included back-to-basic standbys such as the all-beef hot dog and cheeseburger. As for the cocktails, all are served hot, with the exception of the s’mores-inspired Campfire Delight. Cocktail highlights include Scrooged, with pumpkin and walnut liqueurs, pumpkin puree, milk and coffee; a hot toddy of bourbon, gingerbread liqueur, apricot, lemon and chai masala honey; The Griswold, a minty coconut hot cocoa; and A Lost Clause—because even Santa needs a North Star, right?
Downtown at Chow (1020 Fremont St., chowdtlv.com), chef Hansel Tan, formerly of The Smashed Pig, has just rolled out new additions to chef Natalie Young’s Chinese food and Southern-style fried chicken. Tan’s style is all about home-cooked meals, allowing fresh, seasonal ingredients to be the stars of his dishes. Among the new items on the list are the street-cart noodles, an interactive dish that encourages experimentation by adding broth and sauces to your liking. A bed of noodles is served with sliced pork belly, bok choy, fried wontons and beef meatballs in a savory broth. The mix of flavors and
textures and the ability to customize this dish brings pure joy. Also new is the pork belly bun with luscious pork belly nested into a Hu Jiao Bing bun and complemented with pickled cucumbers, spicy barbecue sauce, cilantro, sesame and togarashi. Finally, based on Chow’s own famous fried fowl, sesame chicken are crunchy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside tenders prepared with a rich sesame sauce and served with rice and wok-fried broccoli, then sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Staying with that bird, there is Southern-style fried chicken and there is Korean fried chicken. Not that one style is better than the other; both are equally irresistible. But, when a world-renowned Korean fried chicken franchise, Bonchon (6455 S. Rainbow Blvd., bonchon.com/korean-fried-chicken-sw-las-vegas-nv/), with 188 restaurants around the world opens up shop in Las Vegas, it’s a quick stop-and-devour. Founder Jinduk Seh perfected the technique of double-frying that basically renders much of the fat in the skin, resulting in a paper-thin, crunchy, chewy exterior you can really sink your teeth into. Choose from spicy (which is hot, sweet and smoky at the same time) or garlicky soy–glazed. For those who want it plain, they’ll make it for you that way, too. But why?