Mordeo brings a Spanish splash to Chinatown

Mordeo Boutique Wine Bar serves Clams & Mussels con Chorizo as seen here, Thursday, July 19, 2018.

If you’re not familiar with Chef Khai Vu by name, you’re likely acquainted with District One and Le Pho—two spots that made a significant impact on the dining scenes in Chinatown and Downtown Las Vegas, respectively. This summer, Vu added a third restaurant to his growing roster—the modern and elegant Mordeo Boutique Wine Bar, a few blocks east of District One in Chinatown.

There are few off-Strip restaurants that look as intriguing as the Spanish and Latin-meets-Japanese Mordeo. Almost all of the seating is at one of two bars; the first surrounds a stunning, glass wine cellar and features glowing aquamarine countertops, while another sits at the building’s center, just in front of the kitchen and grill. (A few tables line giant glass windows along Mordeo’s perimeter.) There’s not a bad seat in the house, but if you tend to eat with your eyes, jump for a seat near the kitchen. After all, that’s where the real magic happens.

Mordeo’s menu appears minimal, but Vu packs a lot of variety into two simple pages. Fusion is an overused word, but Mordeo succeeds at it, blending classic cooking styles, like grilling Mexican elote skewers ($3) with Japanese binchō-tan charcoal. Other skewers, such as pork cheek ($4) or yuzu chicken ($4), are tender but need more of Mordeo’s sweet soy reduction to be truly memorable. At the top of the menu is a thick cauliflower bisque ($8), sprinkled with salty ikura and so addictive you’ll be craving a bowl as the weather cools off.

A charcuterie selection includes intensely rich Ibérico de Bellota ($22) from Cinco Jotas, known for its delectably fatty flavor profile. Smaller bites include the ’gram-worthy El Chicharron Tower ($15) with a garlicky and tangy house-made dipping sauce. The lomi lomi ocean trout ceviche ($14) with sesame chili oil is another must-try.

If you’re really hungry, large-portioned shareables like the whole, deboned and grilled branzino ($38) and grilled Spanish octopus ($27) are also available. But don’t feel like you have to try everything all at once. Mordeo is best enjoyed over multiple visits, each offering something new to savor.

Mordeo Boutique Wine Bar 5420 Spring Mountain Road #108, 702-545-0771. Daily, 5 p.m.-1 a.m.

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Leslie Ventura

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