When summertime arrives in Las Vegas, all I want is Thai food. It’s such a versatile cuisine, with infinite bright and powerful flavor possibilities in even the lightest dishes. And there’s something invigorating about eating intensely spicy food when it’s hot outside.
Among my all-time favorite local eateries for such activity were the Chada Thai & Wine and Chada Street restaurants, both formerly fixed in the Chinatown area. The families behind those spots went on to open the Patio Desserts & Drinks on Decatur and Lamaii on Spring Mountain, and then last March, Bon Atcharawan and Bia Hawang opened Lamoon farther west on Spring Mountain in a former Dairy Queen building.
Atcharawan is the manager, and Hawang, his wife, is chef and owner. Together, they’ve distinguished Lamoon from other endeavors by adding some sushi and other Japanese dishes to the menu. But there’s no fusion here, just variety. Lamoon also has its own, more casual feel, as perfect for a leisurely lunch, afternoon coffee and dessert as for a freewheeling late dinner with friends where tons of different dishes are piled on the table and passed around.
These recipes are Hawang’s, so get ready for something different. An early signature specialty is the beef boat noodle soup ($12), a bold and spicy bowl stocked with different cuts of beef, rice noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro and pork rinds. The soup can traditionally contain beef or pork blood, along with fermented bean curd that would add obvious richness and sour notes, but Lamoon’s version is ultra-savory while still balanced, a gravy-like broth that brings heat and herbal qualities. You’re going to want to push those crispy chicharrones under the surface to soak up all that deliciousness, then get a chunk of tender stewed beef in the same great spoonful.
Perhaps a big hot bowl of soup—also available with pork ($10) instead of beef—isn’t your chosen lunch on a triple-digit day. No problem. Lamoon’s green papaya “pok pok” salad ($9) is one of the best versions around, crispy shredded papaya with tiny, juicy tomatoes and snappy long beans in a brilliantly spicy lime sauce, topped with three grilled shrimp. Or cool off without the kick with sushi dishes like yellowtail carpaccio ($13); the Roar roll ($10) with tuna, yellowtail, salmon, scallop and shrimp; or sweet shrimp topped with ikura ($12).
Shareable snacks include house-made chicken or pork meatballs on skewers ($5), honey-yuzu or spicy tom yum chicken wings ($7), and the must-try Golden Cup ($9) with fresh salmon marinated in a special house blend of Thai spices, herbs and yuzu. Tiger steak ($22), sizzling ribeye served with truffle fries, salad and a potent dipping sauce, is listed as an entrée but could be another winner for the table.
Unique twists are added to traditional dishes across the board, like lychee and tomato in the roasted duck curry, and tamarind sauce and crab meat in the pad Thai. Lighter soup options include lemongrass with shrimp and young coconut ($11) and a vegan broth with soft tofu and mixed veggies ($7). And the coconut pancake dessert known as khanom krok ($6) is a fun finish, six pieces made to order with assorted playful toppings.
For a restaurant that opened when everything was shutting down and had to inch its way through 2020, Lamoon feels and tastes like a fully developed destination with its own style. The couple behind it had been working on it for a long time, and they have more ideas to roll out. Stay tuned.
LAMOON 6125 Spring Mountain Road, 702-778-8991. Daily, 11:30 a.m.-midnight.
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