Traveling Circus: China Poblano

The boyfriend and I try to make a yearly trip to Las Vegas, hitting the road when summer is just about to start. This time, we ventured beyond the resort and hit the Strip for dinner one night.

China Poblano is a Jose Andres restaurant, so I had pretty high hopes for this place before even walking in. Located in The Cosmopolitan, it has all the fun and unique design one expects, with the service to match.

The drink menu featured cocktails with fanciful names and interesting ingredients, that star of which was a margarita topped with a cloud of salt. We loved the whimsical presentation, and the drink itself was quite tasty.

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The salt cloud makes all the difference with this delicious margarita.

With a menu that is half Chinese and half Mexican, there was a little bit of a disconnect in terms of flavor compatibility, but we had a few favorite dishes that we’d probably have enjoyed even better without the jarring dissonance of competing aromas and tastes. Pulling back in the fishiness of the dishes with seafood – or upping the umami – could be a good start, as might adding some brightness or spice to the super funktastic rice dish.

There were some real winners here – the dan dan mian being the best thing I ate all day – but refining both styles of food could better bridge the two culinary cultures.

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Starting with guacamole is our habit, and this one was good, though it could’ve used less garlic and more cilantro.

 

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Carnitas taco with chicharron? Always. Cochinita taco with marinated onions? Make that TWO!

 

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My favorite of the evening: dan dan mian with ground pork, cilantro and chile pequin, peanuts, and hand-cut noodles.

 

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Lotus leaf sticky rice – most definitely not going to repeat this one. The funk itself was a bit much, but cured egg yolk took it a bit too far.

 

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Lucky 6 siu mai. Well, one of them was lucky. The other two, not so much: beef with watermelon radish (left) was delicious, traditional (middle) tasted of less-than-fresh bay shrimp, and the scallop (right) had a mushy, spongy texture that was quite off-putting.

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