It’s hard to miss Lawan Thai Kitchen when venturing along Nellis Boulevard, as the small mom-and-pop eatery’s elaborately gabled exterior points to the sky with distinctly Southeast Asian architectural flair. Lawan’s interior stands out, too, since it’s home to a rare Thai buffet.
Thai cuisine is known for being visually striking, often adorned with flower petals and other eye-catching garnishes. That’s not exactly what you’ll find at Lawan’s all-you-can-eat spread ($9.99), and that’s OK. It’s all about filling lunchtime plates and bowls with tasty, fresh-made, small-batch selections.
Lawan’s salads are the place to start, including puckery slivered green papaya; toothsome sliced grilled beef with lettuce; and larb—minced chicken that’s been stir-fried and then chilled. Multiple soups steam away in tall kettles, including tom yum, the classic spicy-sour concoction that’s loaded up here with abundant bunches of slender enoki mushrooms.
Of course, the former Kingdom of Siam’s mainstay noodle dish, pad Thai, is served daily, as is the more interesting pad woon sen with its transparent pasta strings. Fragrant, coconut-rich curries rotate throughout the week: green on Monday and Thursday, yellow on Wednesday and Saturday. Fiery pad prig khing—redolent with chili paste and kaffir lime leaves—is featured on Tuesday and Friday. For a Thai deep dive, scoop into moo pa lo, an aromatic stew of roast pork belly and whole hard-boiled eggs.
Crunchy sides include deep-fried banana slices, slender egg rolls and sticky-sweet spicy chicken wings. If you try the incredibly crispy plain-style wings, add a few splashes of fish sauce from the condiment cart for an umami burst. There’s plenty more to discover in Lawan’s buffet lineup (hey, there, mint chicken), and the overall array delivers great value all six days it’s offered.
Lawan Thai Kitchen 1000 N. Nellis Blvd., 702-453-9188. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Buffet served 11 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.