The New Hotness: Baristas in Bras Not Included

Korean taco stand 9091 inherits Sexxxpresso’s coffee cup

Jim Begley

Wed, Dec 22, 2010 (6:14 p.m.)

ImageCaffeine boost? Not here. The former home of Sexxxpresso now serves Korean tacos.

Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Ever had the insatiable desire for Korean tacos from a ridiculously large espresso cup? You can satisfy it at 9091, the old Sexxxpresso stand previously staffed by lingerie-clad baristas. The very limited menu includes tacos ($2), burritos ($6) and tortas ($7), along with varying specials such as burgers and wings. Each comes with crunchy, sweet, razor-thin shoestring sweet potato fries; try ’em on your taco. Still, I’d prefer if they were made to order.

The protein choices are chicken, beef and tofu, with regular, spicy and Korean barbecue style preparation options for each. Regular is somewhat mundane, but spicy offers some tasty kick, and Korean barbecue offers a perfect smoky/sweet blend. I suggest you make liberal use of the incredible housemade hot sauce—a blended sauce that includes Tapatio and a secret Korean spice mix. Hot enough to make us shed a tear in our fusion food for the hotties who sacrificed so 9091 may live.

9091

670 E. Flamingo, 221-9091
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

The New Republic!

Republic Kitchen offers a good reason to trek east—or stay there

Jim Begley

Wed, Dec 1, 2010 (5:35 p.m.)

ImageRepublic Kitchen’s kobe sloppy joe

Photo: Beverly Poppe

Valley denizens can attest there’s a pretty distinct divide east and west of the Strip. As a westsider, I think of the eastside as Bizarro World—an imperfect copy of my stomping grounds without the quirky dining spots strewn throughout. With the arrival of Republic Kitchen & Bar (in the spot along Eastern previously occupied by Fado Irish Pub), I might begin to change my opinion.

Republic’s claim of “home cooking in a stylish setting” is soundly achieved. The menu reads like a shopping list of homey favorites with contemporary twists. Two spot-on appetizer selections are the pigs in the blanket ($9) and the tuna nachos ($13). The former is a nice twist on the cocktail party standard—the wieners accompanied by a savory cheese fondue—while the latter finds ahi tuna generously heaped upon fried wonton chips, with wasabi guacamole sauce for a bit of bite.

Mini deep fried peanut butter sandwiches Photo: Beverly Poppe

Mini deep fried peanut butter sandwiches

A duo of pot pies highlight the entrees: lobster with edamame, sweet corn and scallions ($23) and turkey with peas, corn and carrots ($15). The crust on both is impeccable, with the lobster the slightly superior filling. The Republic Kobe Sloppy Joe ($11) is also a good choice; though the profound Kobe flavor gets inevitably lost amidst the tasty housemade sandwich sauce, it won’t leave you wanting for a Manwich.

Republic isn’t without faults. Service lags when the room gets busy, and the restaurant’s baked goods are not exceptionally strong. Among a trio of cupcakes ($6), only the banana with maple icing felt worth the calorie splurge. Come dessert, head instead for the PB&J ($6), best described as peanut butter-filled, deep-fried dumplings. Pure decadent goodness, particularly when topped with chocolate sauce.

If Republic is on your side of town, you should make it a regular haunt. For those of us not nearby, it’s even worth the trek to the other side of the Valley.

Republic Kitchen & Bar
9470 S. Eastern Ave., 463-3500
Daily, 10 a.m.-2 a.m.

A Truckin’ Delicious Food Truck Roundup

Here’s my food truck roundup that got me my first cover! Enjoy!

ImageSliders from the beloved Slider Truck

Photo: Beverly Poppe

Probably the biggest Las Vegas culinary scene story in 2010 is the arrival of the gourmet food truck. We’re far from the first city to hop on the mobile-dining bandwagon, but Vegas now has an army of trucks roaming the Valley and providing a variety of tasty eats to people who stalk Twitter feeds, drive across town and line up in parking lots for the delicacies delivered through truck windows. From the best dishes to what’s behind those metal walls, our food truck guide might just have you swearing off stationary restaurants forever.

Slidin’ Thru

slidinthru.com or follow on Twitter @slidertruck

Ricardo Guerrero’s Slidin’ Thru is arguably Las Vegas’ most popular gourmet food truck (just check out the lines at the parking lots where it lurks if you think otherwise), and it has recently evolved to establish a stationary location with an expanded menu at 955 Grier. Start with either the Pep Pep or the Pulled Porky ($3 for 1; $5 for 2; $7 for 3). The former is an Angus burger topped with BLT, sautéed onions, cheddar and super sauce, while the latter, consisting of pork, caramelized jalapeño and BBQ sauce, is just the right amount of messy. For the adventurous, a different mystery slider (price varies with ingredients) is offered each day. A recent hit was turkey pastrami with chipotle mustard and pepper jack cheese. Only one specialty slider per customer, please, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Flow Rider Truck

flowridertruck.com or follow on Twitter @flowridertruck

Gladys Ramos is no newcomer to the food truck scene, having directed a more conventional taco truck for years with her husband Juan and brother-in-law George prior to opening the Flow Rider Truck. This vehicle is best described as Adam Richman’s worst nightmare with portions intended to test your best effort. The Extreme Hydrolic ($22) comes with eight patties topped with BLT, grilled onion, avocado and cheese on grilled sourdough. If that’s too much for you, the two-patty Da Hydrolic ($8) might be your style, or perhaps a Mini Loco Dog (think a bacon-wrapped Tijuana dog with jalapeño and other fixin’s). It may not be health food, but it’s delicious.

Philly's Famous Italian Ices Photo: Beverly Poppe

Philly’s Famous Italian Ices

Philly’s Famous Italian Ices

phillyfamousitalianices.com or follow on Twitter @ItalianIceTruck

A little-known fact—Jim Morris is the elder statesman of our local gourmet food truck scene, having peddled his wares for three years in the Philly’s Famous Italian Ices truck. The ices, imported from the East Coast for authenticity, are similar to sorbets and are a favorite of East Coast transplants. The most popular, and my favorite, is the mango (all flavors $2/$3/$4 for small/medium/large), though the Tropical Rainbow—a mixture of mango, piña colada and pineapple—harks back to a summer spent poolside. And because man cannot live on Italian ice alone, the truck will soon offer authentic Philly cheesesteaks.

Fukuburger

fukuburger.com or follow on Twitter @fukuburger

Colin Fukunaga and Robert “Mags” Magsalin met while working front-of-house at Tao, and many late-night brainstorming sessions resulted in Fukuburger, a truck that adds Asian flair to traditional American dishes and often roosts surrounded by a throng of fans near Chinatown. One popular dish is the tamago (egg) burger ($5)—a regular-size patty layered with a perfectly fried egg, onion strings, teriyaki and furikake (a traditional Japanese condiment of dried fish, sesame seeds and other seasonings). My favorite, however, is the Naga Dog ($6)—a spicy link topped with homemade pickled daikon relish and grilled kim chee then doused with wasabi mayo, habanero kabayaki (eel sauce) and hari nori (dried seaweed).

Island Breeze Photo: Beverly Poppe

Island Breeze

Island Breeze

islandbreezelv.com or follow on Twitter @IslandBreezeLV

Are you a local, brah? Whether or not you hail from the 50th state, you can still enjoy the Hawaiian offerings of Island Breeze. Healthy wraps ($3) are served with your choice of meat (including poke) and a sharp island slaw on the Island Wrap. Plate lunch offerings of kalua pig, teriyaki chicken or beef are served with brown or white rice ($5 for mini or $7.50 large) or fried noodles ($7.50). An accompanying option, the mac salad is simple and satisfying alongside the traditional island meats, but make sure you leave room before you’re pau (done for you haoles) for the fresh malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) that are way ono (delicious)! -Jim Begley

Owner Marianne Yoffee and SnOw ONO Shave Ice Photo: Beverly Poppe

Owner Marianne Yoffee and SnOw ONO Shave Ice

SnOw ONO Shave Ice

snowonoshaveice.com or follow on Twitter @SnOwONOShaveIce

What do you do if your husband wins $35,000 from Pat Sajak? If you’re Marianne Yoffee, you open up SnOw ONO Shave Ice (yes, that’s how it’s written), an authentic Hawaiian shaved-ice truck. For beginners, shaved ice is paper-thin ice doused with flavored syrups—SnOw ONO’s are housemade—that melts in your mouth like cotton candy. Marianne carries traditional mainland flavors such as cherry and lemon (all flavors $3/$4/$5 for small/medium/large), but I suggest the unique island flavors—li hing mui (salty dried plum) with some li hing powder for added tartness or melona, a South Korean honeydew creamsicle flavor. Add-ons such as vanilla ice cream ($1) or mocha bits (50 cents) provide a welcome textural contrast, while condensed milk or sour spray toppings (free) provide extra sweet or sour, depending on your taste.

Curbside Cafe Photo: Beverly Poppe

Curbside Cafe

Curbside Café

curbsidecafelv.com or follow on Twitter @curbsidecafelv

Doug Porter became an early victim of the economic downturn when he had to close his longtime Westside seafood restaurant, Joey’s. That allowed him to morph into Curbside Café, a food truck that puts a twist on traditional street food. Try the Baja Burger ($6), with pepper jack cheese, salsa blanca and pico de gallo, or the tasty Sonoron Dog ($5), a grilled kosher hot dog topped similarly to the Baja, but with the addition of bacon and caramelized onions. Equally outstanding are his tacos ($3 apiece; $5 for 2; $7 for 3), available with deep-fried calamari or blackened mahi-mahi. Both highlight the skill expected from a former brick-and-mortar restaurateur turned street food savant. -JB

Urth burgers at LBS Pattywagon Photo: Beverly Poppe

Urth burgers at LBS Pattywagon

LBS Patty Wagon

lbspattywagon.com or follow on Twitter @LBSPattyWagon

The LBS Patty Wagon is the roving offshoot of the successful burger operation at Red Rock Resort. As might be expected, its offerings are primarily a selection of sliders (2 for $5 or 3 for $7), but a surprising must-try is the meat-free Urth Burger. This is probably the best veggie burger I’ve ever had, with spot-on texture and a fulfilling savory flavor. As a fervent carnivore, I’d happily order it again. Another fresh, healthy option is the Chopped Salad ($7), the Wagon’s take on a Cobb salad. For a more classic, meaty meal, try the Perfect Slider—a beef patty topped with gruyere, bacon, red onion marmalade and LBS sauce (housemade ketchup with a touch of honey and spices)—which has a nice flavor balance.

Han Shik Taco, located at Lee's Discount Liquor (7411 W. Lake Mead Blvd) Photo: Justin Massongill

Han Shik Taco, located at Lee’s Discount Liquor (7411 W. Lake Mead Blvd)

HanShikTaco

hanshiktaco.com or follow on Twitter @hanshiktaco

You’ll normally find Ron Principio doling out his Asian-inspired fare in the Lee’s Liquor parking lot on Lake Mead. His Korean flavors originate not from a desire to mimic the world-famous Kogi trucks in LA, but rather from his friendship with Kenny of the aforementioned Lee family. For a healthy start, pick a taco ($3, or $5 for two) with your choice of protein amid a homemade Asian slaw—the pork comes with a traditional Korean marinade with fruity hints, while the tofu and egg (think omelet) is accompanied by a chipotle sauce. On the not-so-healthy side are the robust seasoned fries ($2) and sinfully addictive Crazy’s Sweet Dough ($2)—mini sugar-covered zeppole, or Italian doughnut holes. You’ve been warned. –JB