When choosing a spot for great Asian cuisine in Vegas, there is such a wide array of choices. Chefs hail from both coasts and provide a pretty incredible smattering of dishes that don’t disappoint. With all the quality fish based dishes out there, sometimes it is hard to believe you are actually smack dab in the middle of a desert.
Momofuku is different though. The restaurant of a well-known NYC chef, chef David Chang serves you contemporary American cuisine and then slightly infuses it with Asian influences. Lauded by Bon Appetit as “the most important restaurant in America,” this Michelin star and James Beard award winning chef presents his food in an incredible space with a lot of personality.
We roll in to the hip Cosmopolitan Hotel and make our long way to the restaurant. The hostess stand is literally placed in a hall and doesn’t give me a great impression. I’m confused why such a praised chef would start out like this. But, once you get past the hall and the bar filled with high top tables, you land in an incredible dining room that has floor to ceiling windows bringing in the lights and excitement of Vegas and beautiful views of the happenings on in the open aired kitchen.
Let me start out by saying that Kid Allergy did not go on this Vegas trip. So please note that I can only relay what the servers told me about their gluten safe dining options. As I do not have an allergy, it remains a mystery whether or not the food was actually safely prepared sans gluten.
So, I sat down and inquired about gluten free dining. Our server started off by questioning if I had to eat gluten free because of an allergy or simply a dietary preference. Loved that.
Second, while there is no dedicated gluten free menu because it changes so frequently, the server was able to point out everything on the menu that could be prepared gluten free. When I dined in January the following items made the gluten free list: shishito peppers, mussels, and the steamed whole Branzino, which serves two. The large format menu serving 2 to 8 people had three choices: the duck, short ribs or Bo Ssam.
The server encouraged us to order and share family style. We couldn’t agree on one of the large format options so we went a la carte with the intention to share everything between us.
From the gluten free menu, we chose two dishes.
The shishito peppers, though tasty and plentiful, were deemed too spicy for some people at the table. This was one of my favorite dishes, however, even though I do admit that it did have a bit of a bite.
We also shared the whole Branzino and were pleasantly surprised that it fed five of us comfortably. It was nicely prepared with a crispy outside and a moist, meaty center. But, I wouldn’t say it was the most flavorful dish we tried.
All in all, the restaurant got mixed reviews from my crowd.
Some were disappointed the restaurant wasn’t Asian influenced enough. Honestly, this restaurant is not the best choice if you want to fill your belly with creative sushi options. One of the only sashimi dishes on the menu (the hamachi) although tasty, isn't even offered gluten free.
In the end, it is always good to check out one of America’s hottest new chefs and even more fun to do it amongst the lights and sounds of Vegas.
Kid Friendly? This place is going for hip, loud and trendy. Not one child did I see during my 8:30pm dinner reservation.
Also, although the Wagyu beef did not make it on the gluten free dining list, I do want to mention it because it blew my mind.
This dish should certainly be considered for those in your party who do not have gluten allergy concerns.
Basically, the raw Wagyu beef is brought to you at your table and then cooked on a Himalayan salt block using only a bit of lemon and a blowtorch.
That’s right…they use a tool that spits out FIRE right at your table. It is quite the display and really does kick the whole dining experience up a notch.
But be warned: the current market price was $40 an ounce. We got 2 ounces to share between 5 people because some of us were so sticker shocked. We basically paid $16 a bite.
Worth it you ask?
Undeniably. What an experience! I am so glad we did it.
And, if you are eating gluten free, the best part is you don’ t have to be roped in for paying that much for a bite. You get to watch the show up close and be warmed by the tableside fire without being taken to the cleaners like your gluten eating friends!