Saturday, June 4, 2016

Off the Map: Still Crazy (and Hostile and Drunk) After All These Years

Twenty Vegetable Fried Rice -- China Poblano, Las Vegas, NV
China Poblano

After twenty-two years of being friends with Vodka, Chianti and Bloody Mary knew to expect that at a certain point in our Las Vegas trip, she would grow hostile.
Things That Are Inevitable: Death, Taxes, Vodka Complaining
Unluckily for Jose Andres's China Poblano, our arrival on its premises coincides with the time Vodka has chosen to unleash her hostility, and Chianti and Bloody Mary and metaphorically cowering at the look of displeasure on Vodka's face.
Someone Appease the Situation with Some Cocktails, and Stat
"Why are we seated in the bar area?  We had a reservation," Vodka asks as soon as the hostess leaves our table.
Did We Not Already Make Clear That We Like Things QUIET?
"It's ALL a bar," Chianti points out, which one sweep around the room proves to be true.  In Vodka's defense, there is a lot to be confused by in China Poblano: the set-up; the Asian/Mexican fusion menu; the fact that the bathroom features a single stall; the cheap chopsticks; and the order of food arrival (but more on that later).
Seriously Though with the Splintery Chopsticks
We are here to consume Johnny Iuzzini's Best Thing I Ever Ate Twenty Vegetable Fried Rice from the LAS VEGAS episode, and of course, to consume a cocktail (or two).
Or Three or Four or Five
Vodka sticks to her weekend choice of Manhattans, while Bloody Mary picks the Ron Cooper and Chianti, the Little Riddle.
We're About to Swing from the Chandelier...
...or in China Poblano's Case, from Some Misplaced Bicycle Wheels
"That'll roll your socks down," Chianti proclaims immediately after tasting hers, so if nothing else, at least China Poblano's cocktails pack more of a punch that the weak foam-absent monstrosities at Wazuzu.
It Is Beginning to Make Sense Why This Place Consists Primarily of Bar
We soon place our food order for the fried rice, the vegetarian spring rolls, the Lucky 6 Siu Mai, the Beijing Glass, and the chilaquiles, along with one taco each (fish for Vodka and Bloody Mary, mushroom for Chianti).  We also specify that we'd like the chilaquiles to come out first, being that we are hankering for some nachos.
If There Is One Thing All of Vodka's Friends Have in Common, It Is a Solid Love of Carbs and Cheese
Cut to three minutes later, when a single fish taco is placed in front of Vodka as the taco delivery boy walks away without fanfare.
Um, Thank You?
"Why am I the only one with a taco?!" Vodka, patient as ever, calls out.  A minute later, a second fish taco is dumped in front of Bloody Mary, with Chianti's still missing in action.
What Happens to Tacos at China Poblano When They Aren't All Served At the Same Time: THEY FALL APART
"This is nonsense," Vodka announces, searching for someone -- anyone -- to seek out Chianti's absent taco.  "There are so many men in suits wandering around and nobody helping."  Without exaggeration, Chianti's taco eventually appears a solid five minutes after Vodka's had arrived -- from the initial tray of the same taco delivery boy.  To say this is an inefficient system is the tip of the iceberg, as it is one that doesn't even remotely make sense.
Better Late Than... Actually, Never Mind
Plus, as you may recall, we asked for the chilaquiles FIRST.
Doesn't This Look Appetizing?
"The waiter is trying hard," Bloody Mary defends our server, to which Vodka immediately retorts, "NOT HARD ENOUGH," as we all dive into our decidedly lukewarm tacos.  The fish variety is rather sad, free of the crispy fried coating that usually makes such creations enjoyable, and the mushroom one is certainly nothing to write home about.
In Other Words, BLEH
The Beijing Glass is placed on our table next (note: still no chilaquiles to be found) around the same time that the waiter comes by and tells us that they are out of spring rolls.

Um, what now?
Can't You Wrap This Up Into a Roll?!
How are you out of spring rolls, and even more egregiously, how are you out of spring rolls at 7:40pm?!  It's not exactly like we're burning the midnight oils around here.  This is Vegas -- it's practically noon, by relative standards of time, and you're out of a menu mainstay.
Way to Seal Your Fate Before the Meal Is Halfway Through, China Poblano
Rather than replace the dish, we ford through the other items we have chosen.  The Beijing Glass and sui mai are both fine if unremarkable, while the chilaquiles (once they finally arrive) are nothing short of delectable.
They are far and away the most successful dish we have tasted at China Poblano, and if left to our own devices (and if we had any confidence they'd ever make it out of the kitchen on time), we would eat two more plates of them.
Presumably Because We Are Hungry from Our Lack of Spring Rolls
In contrast, the twenty vegetable fried rice is nothing special.
Color Us Unimpressed
Save for a few more veggies than normal, we can't discern the difference between this variety and the one found in every Chinese takeout place across the country.
So Apparently All the Vegetables Have Been Placed On TOP of the Rice
Okay, Sooooo... It's Rice and It's Fried and It Has Vegetables In It....
We manage to lick the platter clean, mostly due to the fact that it is a solid morning-after-drinking food and we are decidedly on the downward spiral to tipsy.
Hey, Just Because It's Boring Doesn't Mean We Won't Eat It
Perhaps the greatest miracle of Vegas is that despite all of China Poblano's foibles, we leave the premises without Vodka taking out a waiter, a manager, or an unsuspecting busboy.  Or at least, that's the story we're sticking to.  After all, you know what they say about what happens in Vegas....

China Poblano's Twenty Vegetable Fried Rice: 3 stars

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