A few weeks ago I overheard someone at work discussing the meal he had the night before – it was clams in a black bean sauce, and I was much impressed by his descriptions of the ‘Scent of the sea’ and the delicate sauce and how dramatically he described his sensations while eating. I later asked him where the restaurant was, and was surprised to find it was a Chinese seafood place very close to my house: HK Star Seafood Restaurant at 3400 South Jones, near Spring Mountain.
I don’t really like seafood, but my wife does, and figured a Chinese place would most likely have additional items that I might enjoy, so that night we went down there. The restaurant is in a strip mall full of other Asian places, and takes up four normal storefront places. It looks like a typical low cost Chinese place, with simple tables and chairs and bright signs for an assortment of Asian beers. At the back were several fish tanks filled with live fish, shrimp and lobsters. We were the only Caucasian faces in the place, and when they sat us (the tables were pre set with teacups, plates, small rice bowls and chopsticks) we were immediately given forks, a sign that they knew how adept we probably were. The menu is quite large, running at over thirty pages. There were sections for chicken, beef, fish, vegetables, noodles, lobster, shrimp, sparrow, duck, frogs and a number of other items.
At my suggestion she did try the clams in black bean sauce, while I had a chicken noodle dish. The food was served in the typical family style, a large pot of hot tea was brought out, then a big rice pot, and the two dishes on large platters that we both could serve ourselves from. When served like this we usually end up taking half of each dish home, and thus get two meals out of one order. However, the clam dish evidently lived up to Bob’s description and B ended up finishing the entire plate. I did take half of my noodles home. Total cost for the two dishes, the free rice and hot tea and our drinks was $23. B evidently liked the black bean sauce, we’ve been back two times since and she ordered the chicken in black bean sauce and last week the beef in black bean sauce. Next time she says she’ll try the oyster sauce, her usual very favorite style that she enjoyed in San Diego but hasn’t found a Vegas place yet that makes it well.
So we’ve been to HK Star three times, and the last two times have each brought half of the order home for next day meals. Once when we were there half the place was screened off for a group that came on three tour busses. Usually there are about 200 people in the place, a lot of family groups with grandparents and kids, but service is fast and the food also comes out quite quickly. We haven’t tried any of the lobster dishes yet, but they do bring out a live lobster for you to approve prior to cooking. One meal the table next to us had a soup that was filled with chicken parts – the woman was really enjoying the chicken feet, munching on four or five before complaining about not enough feet in the soup and being brought more. I can see us going back quite a few more times (but not for the chicken foot soup).
Last week we felt like something lighter before Thanksgiving and ended up at a fish and chips place I read about: Lazy Joe’s Fish and Chips at 7835 South Rainbow. We usually hit one of the many Irish pubs for fish and chips, but since I read a good review thought this might differ. Like HK this place is in a strip mall, but only took up one narrow spot. There were about a dozen people eating there, and Joe himself sat us down. We both ordered the typical cod and chips, opting for two pieces of fish and the seasoned chips, and two drinks. Total order: $26. There is a counter down the center of the place, with deep fryers behind so we could see our food being prepared.
When delivered the fish pieces looked rather small (compared to what we usually had at the pubs) in nice rectangular shapes. The breading looked good, but the first bite was a challenge: the fish was so hard and rubbery that I couldn’t bit off any. We used the supplied plastic knives to cut off small pieces, but chewing was reminiscent of those hard yellow pencil erasers with a fishy taste. After one bite, and a try at the overcooked fries, my wife asked why, and rather than complain in front of the happy crowd we asked for to-go boxes, loaded up and took off for HK. My wife suggested giving the fish to some homeless people, but I thought having it would be worse than having nothing (yes, that bad) and we deposited the boxes in the first dumpster we came across. Back at HK Star it was the beef in black bean sauce for her and Kung Pao chicken for me, total bill $23, with enough for another meal taken home.
End result: Skip Lazy Joe’s and go right to HK Star. Cheaper, more food, and MUCH better.