We’ve all heard that Las Vegas draws so many tourists and transplants from Hawaii, we’ve become known as the Ninth Island. And where there are Hawaiians, there’s lots of Hawaiian food, like new Downtown eatery Pacific Island Taste in an East Charleston strip mall just west of Maryland Parkway.
This joint is doling out classics in a small, utilitarian space. But you’re not coming for the ambience; you’re there for the pork hash. At 99 cents each (or 15 for $11.88), you can make a reasonable meal from four of Pacific’s steamed dumplings, which are sorta like Chinese shumai—wonton wrappers swaddling savory pork. Or consider adding them to a bowl of hearty saimin ($7) noodle soup, because pork hash makes everything better.
The daily specials are typically intriguing. I suggest visiting toward the end of the week: Fried butterfish ($9) is offered on Thursdays—the fried skins are the best part—and a Hawaiian plate ($15) comprised of island favorites lau lau, kalua pig and salt-massaged lomi-lomi salmon is the Friday special. Elsewhere around town, kalua pig is an everyday menu staple, but at Pacific it’s elevated to a weekend precursor, as something truly worth celebrating.
J’s Bento Box ($11) isn’t actually served in a box, but it’s delicious anyway, combining mochiko chicken (coated rice flour prior to frying), a neon-red grilled Redondo hot dog, slightly sweet teriyaki beef and peppery chow fun noodles, along with scoops of white rice. It’s a lot of food.
Try to save room for the daily-baked, custard-filled Long Johns. The airy doughnuts ooze with sweet, creamy custard, so be prepared for a possible explosion. Proceed with caution, but definitely proceed to Pacific Island Taste.
PACIFIC ISLAND TASTE 1428 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-366-1109. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.