At a Glance
What is it?
An unusual blend of Chinese and Mexican cuisines done in a series of small plates that allows you to mix and match (or not as the case may be) a variety of tastes.
Where is it?
At The Cosmopolitan on the Center Strip.
What kind of food is served?
Everything from Dim Sum to tacos with a lot of specialized Asian and Mexican dishes in between, all done as small plates.
What is the atmosphere like?
Very casual – perhaps too casual. Some of the chairs aren’t very comfy.
How is the service?
What are the prices like?
The small plates don’t seem like a lot but you have to get a lot of them to make a full meal so it adds up quickly.
What else do I need to know?
The chef was a finalist for the James Beard Awards for this restaurant.
What’s the bottom line?
An odd bit of cuisine experimentation that didn’t quite come together for me.
On paper, the concept of China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas sounds a little weird – Chinese and Mexican food on the same menu? Well, that menu describes its origins thusly:
Spanish galleons first sailed the Pacific in 1565 during the reign of King Philip II. Along with the lucrative trade in silk and silver, they brought Asian spices and fruit to Mexico, and New World peppers to the Middle Kingdom of China.
Okay. But Chinese and Mexican?
To be clear, the dishes here are not combinations of the two cuisines on one plate. Instead it is a series of small plates that can be combined to create different taste concoctions. So you could get dim sum and tacos or Asian noodles with a cheese tortilla.
Does it work? Well… I guess it depends on your mix and match skills.
Dim Sum includes items like vegetable spring rolls, lamb pot stickers, fried wontons, and their signature “When Pigs Fly” Chinese barbeque pork steamed buns. The latter were a little too doughy for my taste but once you got to the BBQ portion, things livened up considerably.
Tacos include everything from lobster to beef tendon to duck tongue to carnitas to fish and beyond. We sampled the BBQ beef and they were good, but not mind blowing.
There are sizeable From China and From Mexico portions of the menu that add in fried rice, eggplant in soy sauce, chicken lettuce leaf cups, Mongolian beef, ceviches, roasted shrimp, and guacamole among other specialties.
This being a small-plate kind of place, the portions are very small so one thing is probably not going to do it for one person – a lesson we learned at lunch when three people got three things and wound up leaving a bit hungry. And although the prices aren’t huge, they will add up quickly if you are doing a bunch of different things. If we had done it properly, our bill for three probably would’ve been in the $75-$100 range for lunch including beverages, tax, and tip.
China Poblano is getting a lot of attention in the foodie world including a nomination for its chef in the James Beard Awards. The fact that I wasn’t bowled over by the unusual union of cuisines may say more about me than it does about the restaurant, but if you want good Chinese food there are better options and if you want good Mexican there are better options. If you want them both at the same time, well, then you should come here.