Before it opened in November, the Lucky Dragon hotel and casino made us a promise: This is where you will find the best Chinese food in Las Vegas. Considering it’s the first Vegas resort built specifically for the Asian audience—locals and tourists—high-quality, authentic cuisine is mandatory.
It took a single lunch at Pearl Ocean to make good on that promise. One of two second-floor restaurants at Lucky Dragon (the other, Phoenix, is for fine dining), Pearl Ocean offers an expansive, refined dim sum experience for lunch and adds live seafood and other traditional dishes for dinner in a casual but lovely atmosphere with impressive, elegant service. The friendly staff’s careful efforts stand out most during dim sum; in Las Vegas, this style of dining is almost always associated with notoriously bad service.
Still, the food is the focus. Five guys xiao long bao ($12.88), a creative, colorful assortment of juicy dumplings like black truffle in squid ink dough and crab roe in turmeric skin, is ready to become the next Vegas foodie-cult must-eat dish. Equally delicious are dim sum standards har gow ($6.88) and shui mai ($5.88) dumplings, and well-assembled tweaks like pea shoot and shrimp dumplings and Mongolian beef rice rolls (both $8.88). From a selection of Northern Chinese specialties, chive and pork dumplings ($6.88) and pork dumplings in chili peanut sauce ($7.88) are simply addictive. That these bites are so much better here than at other Vegas dim sum spots at comparable prices boggles the mind.
Fried dishes satisfy fast, so maybe only order the slightly sweet barbecue pork puff ($5.88). From the wok, experiment with espresso-rubbed ribs ($10.88) and clams in chili-wine broth ($12.88). Congee, noodle and rice dishes—fried scallop and egg white fried rice ($16.88) is a subtle treasure—and sweet stuff round out the lunch menu, leaving nothing to be desired.
The Lucky Dragon is a truly unique Vegas destination for those interested in gambling and great Chinese food. Pearl Ocean has enough of the latter to keep us coming back often.
Pearl Ocean Lucky Dragon, 702-579-1287. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.