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Dishes from across China — and Asia — star at new Strat restaurant

It would have been easy for the folks at The Strat to endow Chi Asian Kitchen (from the Chinese word for “eat”) with a roster of Chinese American standards, to go the way of lemon chicken and broccoli beef for the restaurant, whose menu is about 70 percent Chinese. And who would have blamed them?

Strip casinos are a crossroads, and restaurants (unless they have a narrower remit) must aim for fairly wide appeal. Familiar dishes (especially with international foods) help create that appeal.

But The Strat has taken a different approach with Chi Asian Kitchen, offering some dishes people will know, and some they might not, while also celebrating the cooking of several regions across China. The same approach goes for the dishes and ingredients the restaurant serves from greater Asia (Japan, Korea and so on).

“The Las Vegas guest is very adventurous and willing to go out of their expectations of Chinese food,” said Zoey D’Arienzo, The Strat’s vice president of food and beverage, speaking exclusively with the Review-Journal. The discussion included an advance look at the menu, now being finalized.

“This is very much a restaurant to try things people are interested in and cater to different styles of Asian cuisine,” D’Arienzo continued. “We’re getting educated by our guests.”

Pies and pancakes

Chi Asian Kitchen is scheduled to debut in October. The restaurant, D’Arienzo said, is part of ongoing renovations to The Strat that now exceed $100 million. Planning for Chi began before the pandemic; an Asian concept was chosen to meet a need in the property’s food and drink portfolio.

“It was definitely something our guests were asking for,” D’Arienzo said.

The menu leads off with about a dozen starters. There are xian bing (the popular meat pies from northern China) and Shanghai scallion pancakes (a popular breakfast dish in the city), karaage Japanese fried chicken and cucumber salad with a spicy toss chili-garlic dressing.

Bao, dim sum, slurps

Steamed bao receive upgraded (and sometimes unexpected) fillings: miso salmon, Korean fried chicken, pork belly.

Dim sum enjoy menu attention, with about 10 selections, including xiao long bao (often called soup dumplings), baked char siu bao, crab wontons stuffed with cream cheese (a Chinese American standard), and rice noodle rolls (called cheung fan) filled with shrimp and finished with a splash of double-black soy sauce: dark, thick, sweet.

The menu slurps along with a trio of soups: chicken broth with house wontons, seafood egg noodle with shrimp and scallops, and braised oxtail with green onions and ginger.

Rice, noodles, alley eats

Fifteen or so rice and noodle dishes round out the menu at Chi Asian Kitchen.

Among the rice options: house fried rice with kimchi, chicken or Chinese sausage (lap cheong); bulgogi fried rice starring shaved marinated ribeye; and garlic teriyaki chicken donburi bound with a soft-boiled egg.

Highlights from the noodles: seafood yakisoba, tan tan udon with spicy beef (a Japanese version of dan dan noodles), rice vermicelli with shrimp and XO sauce, and a snarl of noodles topped with pork sauce, a version of zha jiang mian, the Beijing classic.

Signature cocktails take a bow at Chi Asian Kitchen, including a Ni Hao (Chinese for “hello”) Cucumber assembled from Roku Japanese gin and Tyku infused sake.

Renderings for the restaurant were not available. D’Arienzo, the food and beverage vice president, said the new spot was inspired by “a traditional Chinese alley restaurant. All the interior is street inspired.”

Contact Johnathan L. Wright at jwright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ItsJLW on Twitter.

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