by Vegas Food Nerd
José Andrés continues to take the world by storm with all of his culinary innovations. When word of China Poblano spread after its opening, I couldn’t help but wonder: A restaurant that combines Chinese cuisine with Mexican cuisine? Sounds weird, right? But I encourage all foodies, food nerds, and (sigh), even the food snobs, to check out this small, yet very cool take on dining. This, like José’s other Vegas outpost, Jaleo, is a small plates and tasting type concept. So think: Tapas with a Chinese and Mexican twist. I am a big fan of… well, pretty much all food in general, so heading over to try this Master Chef’s take on the two was intriguing, to say the least. 

The menu is broken into different sections with snacks, Chinese dim sum, Mexican offerings, and a Mexican drink section, along with a Chinese drink section. If you order one thing from this place, you have to order their Rou Jia Mo Street Sandwich. A fresh steamed bun filled with red barbeque pork is served to you, street style (in a paper wrapper) piping hot. The sandwich melts in your mouth in a truly drool-worthy way. It is one of the best dishes that I have sampled in the last year. My friend who went on this adventure with me couldn’t agree more. If you go to China Poblano and you don’t order this, then I feel sorry for you. After sampling our Chinese offering, it was naturally time to venture over to Mexico and try a Taco or two. We wanted to be adventurous and try the Duck Tongue Tacos that were on the menu, but sadly, on our visit, they were sold out. So we then decided to try the Setas, and the Carnitas tacos. The Setas (wild mushrooms with guacamole) was just incredible. Mushrooms, when cooked just the right way, can have a flavor and texture that is reminiscent of a great cut of beef, and China Poblano’s mushroom tacos were cooked in just that fashion. The Carnitas taco was just as satisfying of a dish. Here they combine braised baby pig, crunchy pork rinds and top it off with a very good spicy green salsa. Also a big thumbs-up in our opinion. 

All the noodles on the menu are handmade in house at this restaurant, so I had to at least order one dish of them to try. I always trust my server on which is best, and our waiter, to my chagrin, suggested we try the “healthy” whole wheat Dan Dan noodles. I am not generally a fan of whole-wheat pasta, but we decided to trust in our guide that night. The noodles arrived steaming hot, topped with a spicy pork sauce with chopped up peanuts throughout. To my surprise, the healthy option was really, really good. It’s always a happy accident when that happens. After all our samplings and a nice shot of Patrón or two, the meal came to a close. The best part of this restaurant, aside from of course how much we enjoyed our food, was the intimacy of the space: small and compact, with two open cooking stations working simultaneously to bring you your food. It made for an entertaining experience all around.

The former chef that helped create this fun and unique place to dine is currently on a culinary adventure of her own. She is traveling the country, based on the choices of the Top Chef production team, and is hoping to make it to the finish line as the next Top Chef. It’s a tough competition, but this girl not only helped to make China Poblano on the top restaurants lists, winning multiple accolades, but she has also been mentored by some of the top culinary stars such as José Andrés, Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy, and Mario Batali – so her chances have got to be better than most. Her “cuisine without borders” cooking philosophy has definitely been embraced by our town, and my taste buds. Good Luck, Shirley! Show Padma what Vegas is all about.

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