Before xiao long bao (savory steamed soup dumplings) became a Vegas phenomenon at hot spots like Din Tai Fung, Shanghai Taste and Mott 32, local eaters were introduced to these addictive morsels at China Mama (3420 S. Jones Blvd., 702-873-1977), a perennial favorite for Chinese cuisine in the Las Vegas Valley. After new ownership refreshed the dining room and the menu a few years ago, this Chinatown institution is better than ever, and those dumplings are just one of the must-try dishes.
Definitely sample some of the beautifully presented, simple yet delicious veggie dishes, including wood ear mushroom salad ($8), stir-fried green beans ($13) with a little kick from chili paste, and cool cucumber salad with mashed garlic ($9). If you’re ready to try other dumpling dishes, China Mama’s crispy, chewy potstickers ($12) and pan-fried pork buns ($14) with extra bits of crunchy, lacy goodness are both just as good as the beloved soup dumplings (listed as steamed juicy pork buns, $14).
As for other shareable dishes, the spicy dry pepper chicken ($18) has also been a highlight for a long time, but the crispy beef ($17) also packs a lot of flavor, and its unique texture is the perfect foil to any favorite noodle or dumpling selection. China Mama also does a stellar mapo tofu ($14) to help you finish off any extra steamed rice on your table.
If you’re like us and you’ve been returning to local dining by steadily revisiting the all-time greats, rest assured China Mama deserves to stay at the top of the list.
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