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Dining Guide: Asian

Each week Neon spotlights a different cuisine in the Dining Guide, with Asian restaurants this week. Restaurants are rated on a letter-grade scale, from A to F. Opinions by R-J critic Heidi Knapp Rinella (H.K.R.) are indicated by initials. Price symbols are based on the cost of an average entree: $ = entrees under $10; $$ = entrees between $10 and $20; $$$ = entrees between $20 and $30; and $$$$ = entrees more than $30.

BASIL ‘N LIME

3665 S. Fort Apache Road; 255-2581

The thing we liked most about Basil ‘n Lime was that the meats clearly were cooked along with dishes such as Tom Kha Gai, instead of being prepared separately and thrown in after the order is made. Such care also showed in the lively decor in shades of green with dark-brown furniture, and in such other dishes as Pad Thai, lemongrass prawns, sticky rice with coconut ice cream and a refreshing Thai iced tea. (4/30/10 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$

CHINA MAMA

3420 S. Jones Blvd.; 873-1977

Four words of advice if you go to China MaMa: steamed juicy pork buns. These plump, dumplinglike babies are real – and they’re spectacular. Also worthy of note: the creamy chicken corn soup, green-onion pancake and beef roll. The place isn’t big on atmosphere – it is, after all, a former bank, and you can pretty much make out all of the features except for the vault – but the food and prices are tough to beat. (11/6/09 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$

GALANGA THAI EATERY

505 E. Windmill Lane; 270-2493

The fact that the Thai iced tea was served in a mix-it-yourself format immediately impressed us with Galanga Thai Eatery’s attention to detail, and the sauce selection with the appetizer plate just reinforced it. We also loved the eggplant basil and sticky rice with vanilla ice cream and liked the Pad Thai with pork. (3/18/11 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

I LOVE SUSHI

11041 S. Eastern Ave.; 990-4055

I Love Sushi is a “fusion” sushi restaurant, of the genre that is refining and redefining the art to be more in keeping with American tastes. To that end, there’s a heavy reliance on tuna and salmon, but we’re not complaining. We liked the Joe’s Special, Sex on the Beach, the I Love Sushi Special, the Lisa Hand Roll and the Tornado. And a vanilla mochi for dessert. And there’s teriyaki, teppanyaki and yakisoba, in case sushi’s not your thing. (7/21/11 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$$
KUNG FU PLAZA

3505 S. Valley View Blvd.; 247-4120

Kung Fu Plaza may have a clientele that’s not quite as ethnically Asian as some of the other spots in and around China Town Plaza, but we figure that’s because it’s been open since 1973 and has built up a locals following in that time. At any rate, we liked it for a spirited Tom Kha Chicken and crunchy beef Pad Thai, plus personable service. (11/5/10 H.K.R.)

Overall: B

$

LEMONGRASS CAFE

8820 S. Eastern Ave.; 463-1300

If your scope of Vietnamese food is limited to banh mi and pho you can stretch your horizons at Lemongrass Cafe, which has a broad menu and does it well. We liked the Bun Cha Gio (vermicelli with fried egg rolls), Bi Cha Bo Nuong (lemongrass beef), Banh Mi Bo Koh (Vietnamese-style beef stew) and starters of Goi Cuon (spring rolls) and Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepe). (9/10/10 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$

NITTAYA’S SECRET KITCHEN

2110 N. Rampart Blvd.; 360-8885

We were off to a good start with the house fruit-infused water (red apple, kiwi, orange and lemon on the evening of our visit), and we liked everything that was to follow, which was the World Famous Spinach Salad, pork and vegetable egg rolls, cilantro steak skewers, grilled mango shrimp, shrimp satay, beef jerky and fried bananas. (1/21/11 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$

PIN KAOW

1972 N. Rainbow Blvd.; 638-2746, and 7835 S. Rainbow Blvd. and 9530 S. Eastern Ave.

We did Pin Kaow at lunch, when $6.95 would get you a special that included soup, egg rolls and wontons, plus entree. We had a Thai beef salad and a pork curry and both were delightful – though no more so than the decor, in which the prodigious use of wood and flowers has helped the restaurant transcend its strip-center location. (11/13/09 H.K.R.)

Overall: B

$

PING PONG

2955 E. Sunset Road; 228-9988

We thought the food at Ping Pong was pretty spicy, on the 1-to-10 or mild-to-hot Thai restaurant continuum, but we (at least the less timid of us) thought it was pretty special, too. That included Pad Thai that was so moist as to be almost creamy (which is a good thing), kickin’ Tom Ka Gai, grilled chicken curry, beef jerky and a dessert of sticky rice with coconut ice cream. (6/18/10 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

SHABU-SHABU PARADISE

1716 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, Henderson; 385-4567

We couldn’t figure out why Shabu-Shabu Paradise wasn’t packed on the evening of our visit, aside from the confusion that may stem from its “Japanese fondue” subtext. That’s accurate, but only to a point; shabu-shabu is generally lighter than fondue, and more healthful. It’s done flawlessly at Shabu-Shabu Paradise, where we enjoyed the half-shrimp and half-scallop and half-beef and half-chicken shabu-shabu combos. (8/31/10 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$$

SHIBUYA

MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 891-3001

Signature dishes: Kampachi sushi with yuzu juice and black truffle oil, braised Kobe short rib and foie gras

SPICY TUNA SUSHI

10345 S. Eastern Ave.; 722-2424

Like other fusion sushi places in the area Spicy Tuna offers numerous creative rolls and other sushi; unlike the others, it wasn’t crowded on the evening of our visit. And we thoroughly enjoyed most of our choices, like the garlic-butter edamame, bacon maki, SJW Special, Monkey Special, Screaming Orgasm and Dr. George Special, though we found the spicy tuna roll surprisingly ordinary. (1/22/10 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$

SUSHI FEVER

5985 W. Sahara Ave.; 838-2927

The notion that Americans’ idea of Japanese food has shifted from “steakhouses” to sushi bars was reinforced at Sushi Fever, whose teppan tables sat cold and unused while the sushi bar and dining room were bustling. And no wonder, with fusion rolls such as the Monkey Roll with its slabs of fried banana topped with crab and special sauce, and Linda’s Special, its spicy crab and avocado wrapped with tuna, salmon and yellowtail and topped with garlic shrimp, raw onion and jalapeno, and served with a truly special sauce. Whew! We also liked the high-value two-item combo, for which we chose shrimp tempura and pork tonkatsu. (3/23/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$$

SUSHI TWISTER

5666 Boulder Highway; 433-8892

A Boulder Highway strip center across from a weekly-rental hotel may seem an unexpected spot for a fusion-sushi joint, but Sushi Twister’s there and it’s thriving. We’d say that’s on the strength of creative, well-executed rolls like the Sushi Twister, Crispy Vacation, Cowgirl and Magic Mountain. (7/1/11 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$$

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