Asian cuisine may be the one Vegas food category where things are better off the Strip. In an effort to please our visitors, casino restaurants tend to drift into fusion-y “pan-Asian” territory—sushi for starters and maybe a Thai noodle dish hiding among Chinese-American entrees. Savvy diners know our expansive Chinatown on Spring Mountain Road is the place to find cheap, authentic and dynamic grub of all Asian varieties.
This is just the beginning of an explanation for what makes Rice and Company at Luxor such a pleasant surprise. The quiet, pyramid-shaped resort certainly isn’t known as a culinary heavy hitter, and this restaurant’s location is an odd one: It’s on the promenade level on the way to Mandalay Place. And yes, there is sushi. But skip past it and you’ll find a comprehensive menu of Cantonese favorites done very well, with a little bit of that Chinese-American nostalgia thrown in for good measure.
- Rice and Company
- At Luxor, 262-4852.
- Daily, 5-11 p.m.
Instead of edamame, perfectly fine and fresh sashimi or specialty cut rolls, start with pan-fried pork potstickers, a crisp Chinese chicken salad, or a steaming bowl of war wonton soup with slabs of roast pork. Even better, seafood tofu soup is loaded with shrimp, scallops and squid.
As I expect in any good straight-ahead Chinese restaurant, seafood is a staple at Rice and Company. For $25, get a whole lobster chopped into juicy chunks, lightly fried and glazed in a ginger-scallion sauce. The kitchen also does a crispy whole fish with black bean sauce, switching up the selection regularly.
You can get your takeout favorites here, too, like kung pao or General Tso chicken, Mongolian beef or tenderloin in black pepper sauce, only these versions are much better that what comes out of that Styrofoam box. A whole ($36) or half ($19) Peking duck is a brilliant highlight, all crispy skin and tender meat served beautifully without the fatty messiness that comes from certain Chinatown joints. This duck is a joy to look at and eat, served with cute little moo-shu pancakes, julienned veggies and hoisin and plum sauces.
For noodle supremacy, choose Hong Kong-style, a mountain of savory meats, straw mushrooms, bok choy and more atop thin, chewy egg noodles. Great Chinese in ancient Egypt? Only in Vegas.