Beyond bao at Sheridan Su’s Downtown pop-up
Sun, Aug 5, 2012 (11:30 p.m.)
Photo: Sarah Feldberg
When Las Vegas heard that chef Sheridan Su’s Great Bao eatery, housed inside a local salon, would close, foodies were understandably disappointed. After all, it meant the end of a locale known for serving scrumptious sandwiches on delightfully squishy Chinese buns and the end of traipsing to a salon for lunch, a novelty that was an undeniable part of the charm. But it wasn’t the end of Sheridan and his buns.
Last Sunday the chef took over Downtown staple Le Thai for one of the restaurant’s monthly pop-up dinners—a delicious six-course meal that went way beyond bao. Sitting at two long tables underneath the misters on Le Thai’s patio, guests snacked on seven spice pistachios and knocked back Thai beer. It felt like a neighborhood dinner party—except the courses came in rapid-fire succession and everything was expertly cooked.
First up, Thai-style ceviche served on crisp tostadas, a refreshing summer appetizer that would have benefitted from an extra hit of chili-induced heat. Next, purple potato spring rolls, an East-meets-West plate that showcased Sheridan’s creative edge with dense potato filling in lightly fried spring rolls and a red wine reduction sauce that cut through with just the right acidic bite. As the conversation bounced from Downtown development to Lululemon pants, local bands and ultramarathons, the food kept coming: grandma’s dumplings, stuffed with pork and chive and served with a good char in a sweet and spicy sauce; roasted duck bao, a Great Bao classic with the crispy skinned poultry providing a pleasant textural contrast to the pillowy bun; and Sheridan-style surf and turf, fried soft shell crab with pork belly in a tomato vinaigrette.
It was the kind of meal that begs for the lightest of desserts—a point often missed by chefs who refuse to skip the chocolate or something doused in whipped cream. Not Sheridan. The Hawk’r 2.0 pop-up closed with marinated watermelon and green tea and blue agave granita—a fruity, herbal dish that I could eat almost every night. As spoons clinked against empty bowls, Sheridan popped his head out of the kitchen just long enough to thank his guests for coming and apologize for a few underdone dumplings.
“He doesn’t talk much,” his very pregnant fiancé Jenny said. “He loves people who love good food.”
And with Sheridan’s cooking, the friendly vibe and the comfy Downtown digs, we were certainly feeling the love.