Food

White Rabbit Café serves authentic and accessible Filipino cuisine

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Chicken Adobo Tacos are shown at the White Rabbit Cafe, 3429 S Jones Blvd., Sunday, May 10, 2015. The business started as a Filipino-fusion food truck in Southern California.
Photo: Steve Marcus
Jim Begley

In a city awash in Asian food, Filipino fare is severely less mainstream than its Far East relatives. The local Japanese food invasion is overwhelming, while Chinese and Thai joints dot the landscape. But accessible Pinoy cuisine is seriously lacking. There are exceptions—Café De Cebu serves a noteworthy lechon, and Max’s crispy pata is epic; unfortunately, most other local Filipino joints trend toward uninviting.

Which leads us to White Rabbit Café. After beginning as a SoCal food truck before transitioning into a brick-and-mortar restaurant, White Rabbit spent the last couple of years prowling the streets of Las Vegas. In December it opened up in a cozy standalone spot across from popular China Mama, making it easier to track down their “fusion” fare.

Pork Sisig Rice Bowl with Fried Eggs at theWhite Rabbit Cafe, 3429 S Jones Blvd., Sunday, May 10, 2015. The business started as a Filipino-fusion food truck in Southern California.

A meal at White Rabbit is essentially a Choose Your Own Adventure. Begin in the section of meats, which inexplicably includes a vegetarian option. Beefsteak is a lot like pot roast. The Filipino stalwart chicken adobo is also an option. I’d suggest selecting from the trio of pork options, because this is where the Rabbit excels.

My least favorite of the three is the spicy/sweet longanisa—less a reflection on the sausage’s quality than praise for the excellence of the other options. The crispy sisig is reminiscent of Mexican carnitas in all the best ways, finely diced pork belly pan-fried with jalapeño peppers and onions for heat and texture. The wild red, wok-fried tocino reminds me of Chinese sweet and sour pork, minus the sour. Each is divine in its porkiness.

Pick your protein and then comes the entrée ($7.50 each). While the majority are Mexican-centric—including a taco trio, burrito and carne fries—their impact is substantially less important than your actual meat choice itself. In fact, the smattering of vinaigrette slaw on the tacos hardly impacts the dish at all. More interesting is the burrito, where a melding of garlic rice, fried egg and Swiss cheese is swaddled in a tortilla. But best of all is the quesadilla, particularly so with tocino. An oozy combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar provides a foil for the pork’s inherent sweetness.

Don’t be afraid to explore the sides ($2.50 each) and extras. Well worth the 50-cent upgrade, rice rife with toasted garlic bits is a welcome addition to your bowl. And mini lumpia come six to an order and are stuffed with—you guessed it!—pork. Particularly interesting is the spaghetti ($7.50). More sugary than the version you’re familiar with but not cloying, the marinara is an appealing mix of sweet and meat with a hint of spice.

If you’ve got room for dessert, the white chocolate champorado ($4) awaits. Described as a sweet white chocolate porridge, it’s essentially a milky rice pudding topped with fresh strawberries and chips of something tasting suspiciously like FrankenBerry cereal. This oddly nostalgic notion only makes it easier to explore your new favorite Filipino fare.

White Rabbit Café 3429 S. Jones Blvd., 702-866-2360. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

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