Lucky Foo’s Restaurant & Bar is the kind of place that could be insufferably hip.
That would kill it in the suburbs, and it appears the owners are smarter than that. What they’ve created is a fun, fusiony restaurant with an edge, without the annoying hipster elements. So, sort of like the sensitive soul part, without the shaggy beard and nasty knitted cap.
Food-wise, that translated to a lot of innovative, interesting dishes, all well-executed. The Forbidden Bowl ($12) was an absolute riot of flavors and textures: a base of black or “forbidden” rice, topped with chunks of kabocha squash, avocado, haricot verts (skinny green beans to you and me), herbs, onion jam and, in an example of a bit of deft border-bending, Cotija cheese.
Chicken and scallion yakitori ($9) — three skewers cooked over the restaurant’s robata grill with special, ultra-hot-burning Japanese charcoal — were wonderfully moist and served in a side dish of shaved Brussels sprouts ($6). The vegetable was appealingly caramelized, with crunchy elements.
A starter of Stellar Nachos ($9) would’ve been better if the wonton chips had been fried in hotter oil (they were a little oil-soaked), but we did like the toppings of spicy tuna, pico de gallo and avocado crema.
The only dish that didn’t seem quite right was the Cheese Mazemen ($10), a sort of Japanese-fusion take on macaroni and cheese. The flavor was great, with smoked Gouda, Parmesan and Monterey Jack fusing into a mellow sauce on the noodles with flavor accents from minced green onion. But the cheeses sort of congealed the noodles into a mat. Fairly vigorous stirring with chopsticks returned them to a creamier state.
And we recovered with the Giant Fortune Cookie ($9), which was — yup — giant and stuffed with fortunes for each of us (a nice touch), accompanied by a very nice, thick, dark-chocolate sauce and a caramel sauce that was kind of odd, so we stuck to the chocolate.
Like its menu, Lucky Foo’s atmosphere isn’t overly hip, with a nicely varied music playlist and a sleek design with neutral colors tending to dark and traditional Japanese dolls, some quite oversized, and all of them whimsical.
And to whomever is training the employees, I’d like to extend congratulations because all whom we encountered were unfailingly pleasant, cheerful and polite.
But then again, they’re working in a pretty cool place. Cool, without being hipster.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Email Heidi Knapp Rinella at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more of her stories at bestoflasvegas.com, and follow @HKRinella on Twitter.