What I never realized about Las Vegas is that there exists a Chinatown with all sorts of food options. Take a look. You'll find Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino. See, all of the Chinese cultures! And that's just in the Chinatown Plaza, a strip mall on Spring Mountain Road.
While getting a Sichuan fix was tempting, there was one thing that kept coming up in conversations with people, and that was ramen. Ramen, ramen, ramen.
And who am I to argue? Quite frankly I'm not even sure that I've ever had a proper ramen, so this seemed like a good opportunity to get something exceptional.
Off we went to Ramen Sora, on Spring Mountain Road (and of course, at least $20 cab ride).
It's a small place that could fit a few more tables if they tried. Hell, if it was in NYC, there would be at least twice as many seats. So, it's roomy, and it fills up quickly. Indeed we grabbed the only available table at lunch. By the time we left at 1pm on a Friday, a few people were waiting to be seated.
The crowd was diverse, with young people, tourists, Asians, and locals. Please note that I realise these groups are not mutually exclusive. SiriusXM was cranking out today's hits, and the place was pretty lively. Very comfortable, very welcoming.
Menus are printed on laminated place mats, and have pictures, which is nice if you're like me. Some quick googling was necessary to figure out what some of the ingredients were, but I sensed no language barrier with the servers, and they were absolutely wonderful and gracious. Come to think about it, they were downright joyful.
The internet had advised that the gyoza here is something special. Skeptical as I was, I figured we'd get an order. Holy cow, these gyoza ruined gyoza for me forever. Maybe the gyoza that I've been eating is frozen, mass-produced crap? Probably. These here gyoza tasted as though they were made in-house (I didn't confirm). I've never had such a tender skin on gyoza. The filling tasted ultra-fresh, and had a wonderful crunch. Seriously, these were good, and seriously good. I'm sure you can get good gyoza if you know where to go, but I sure don't, so these were the best gyoza I've ever eaten. How often does something that costs 4 dollars makes this big of an impression?
I went for the ramen with everything (deluxe), which is probably silly, but I figured 'why not.' This, with a miso base (you can pick from a few bases, and I was told miso is pretty standard).
Tender slices of pork, scallion, noodles, egg, and other stuff that I can't remember. The broth was amazing. So very rich and so very deep. And deep, also; this is a big bowl.
The missus got the spicy ramen (pictured at the top). With the addition of bean sprouts and, judging by the photo, a dismembered thumb. As good as the 'deluxe' ramen was, this was even more pleasing to me. Ground spicy pork lent an extra kick to the broth. This ramen had a much more clean flavor than the everything (it was not miso-based, which could be part of it). This one was the star of the show.
The components of the ramen are all notable on their own. This is a buffet in a bowl. And for 10 dollars. You heard me. 10 dollars. You could split a bowl with someone and still leave satisfied. This is a very cheap meal. Suffice it to say, the cab cost more than the meal. Twice as much I'd think.
That said, depending on where you are coming from on the strip, the cab might not be that bad to Chinatown. The Mirage and Venetian are right at the end of Spring Mountain Ave, so it's really just a hop skip and jump.
I wish we had more time to explore Chinatown. It looks like there are a lot of really super restaurants there. If I end up in Vegas again, I'll be sure to focus a bit more on this area. In the meantime I'll be on the lookout for a proper ramen locally here in the New Jersey area.
Wine and beer only, at Ramen Sora.
Ramen Sora : 4490 Spring Mountain Road : Las Vegas, NV : 702.685.1011