What is F.A.M.E.? The initials stand for food, art, music and entertainment, which explains everything and nothing. The Linq’s website calls it a street market and ultralounge. Signs on the windows describe it as a Chinatown food experience. Confused yet?
F.A.M.E. is easily the least obvious dining option at the Linq, which is packed with pleasant but generic American pub fare, pizza, cupcakes, Mexican food and hot dogs. All of those favorites make perfect sense along the latest tourist attraction on the Vegas Strip, while F.A.M.E. is a little more risky and ambitious. It clearly wants to be the coolest culinary kid on the block, hoping to attract adventurous eaters while instilling more than a little bit of street food culture into its environment.
So far, the unfinished venue—upstairs is still under construction, planned to open eventually as a full-service Pan-Asian restaurant—manages to offer lots of different food with quick convenience while not feeling like a mall food court. It’s more like a cozy neighborhood bar that just happens to have dumplings. Sparsely populated during daytime hours, F.A.M.E. gets moving at night, especially during the Linq’s weekly block parties when DJs, artists and taiko drummers take over the space and somehow make it feel like a locals’ thing.
Fukuburger is without question the anchor, and eating its food in a fun brick-and-mortar just feels right. HIG Management, which designed the F.A.M.E concept and manages Las Vegas restaurants and food court spots like Rice and Company, China Max and TJ’s Taco Bar, wisely planted Fuku here to set the tone and draw locals. I’m always partial to the Tamago Burger when I find the Fukuburger truck, so here I tend to explore other underrated virtues of the menu, like its tremendous take on loco moco ($7.99) or the super-spicy, gut-busting Naga Dog ($8.99) hot link.
International cream puff chain Beard Papa’s, which originated in Osaka, Japan, recently landed here, sharing central kiosk space with a boba tea shop. With varying filling, frosting and pastry flavors, you can mix and match and create your own dessert, and they’re pretty damn tasty.
The rest of F.A.M.E.’s food is standard stuff, including familiar Chinese-American plates like roast pork with fried rice ($12), assorted styles of noodle soup and decent dim sum options. (The best are pan-fried dumplings, six for $5.99.) Of course, fusion gets all up in the mix, too. Gangnam Taco Bar offers Korean-influenced tacos ($8 for three), burritos ($9) or nachos ($9) with marinated short ribs or spicy pork daeji bulgogi, and Pizza Buddha serves personal-sized pies with Thai-style chicken and crispy rice noodles ($11.50) or black pepper beef and roasted vegetables ($10.50).
It’s quite the Asian smorgasboard and, the more I eat and think about it, a pretty unexpected piece of the Linq puzzle.
F.A.M.E. The Linq, 702-906-1672. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-12 a.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.