An aging locals’ casino proves a good fit for a funky, novel new restaurant

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<p>Sheridan Su cooks in the kitchen at Fat Choy in the Eureka Casino. PHOTO: BILL HUGHES</p>

If you read CityLife’s dining coverage with any frequency, you’re familiar with Sheridan Su. After working at some top Strip restaurants, the chef ventured out on his own to open a food truck, which didn’t pan out. He bounced back by selling bao (Asian sandwiches) in the lobby of a hair salon, drawing national attention before the building was sold and he was evicted. He returned to his truck, but in late 2012 word spread he would set up shop in another unlikely location: Eureka Casino.

About a month ago I listed Su’s new restaurant, Fat Choy, as one of the places I looked forward to trying in 2013. So I didn’t give it a lot of time to work out the kinks before paying a visit. But there were no signs of growing pains when I dropped in on a quiet weeknight.

I hadn’t been to the Eureka in ages and was surprised to find it isn’t nearly as low-rent as I’d feared. In fact, it’s a considerably nicer environment than the nearby Commercial Center that houses critical darling Lotus of Siam. Fat Choy occupies the space that formerly housed Teddy’s Bar & Grill. The basic setup, complete with bar seating and an open kitchen, is reminiscent of a typical casino coffee shop. But everything is newly renovated, and the place has a slightly funky vibe. One wall features a cartoonish mural dedicated to Su’s past endeavors. Another features a mural of green bamboo. The third hosts five plasma TVs.

Fat Choy is open for breakfast 8-10 a.m. For those hours, the restaurant sticks to classic fare, such as biscuits and gravy ($6), an omelet with roasted potatoes ($6) and pancakes ($5). It’s during lunch and dinner when Su gets creative, with his personal creations far outnumbering holdover Teddy’s items like the cheesesteak ($10) and Buffalo wings ($7). The snack section of the menu features two varieties of his signature bao ($7 for two), roasted bone marrow with onion jam ($8) and potstickers made with his grandmother’s recipe ($6). Rice bowls are available topped with duck, short rib or chicken teriyaki ($8-$14). And sandwiches include a burger topped with short rib, bacon, fried egg, cheddar and roasted tomato ($10) and a PBBLT (pork belly, bacon, lettuce and tomato with siracha mayo, $9).

Since I’ve had Su’s bao and his brilliant sesame noodles ($8) often enough to have faith he’ll do them justice here, my wife and I tried items new to Fat Choy. So we ordered wonton soup ($7), shrimp toast ($8), duck rice ($12) and a short rib grilled cheese ($10). It seemed like a fairly traditional collection of dishes. What we got, however, was A pretty novel feast. Things kicked off with the strangest shrimp toast I’ve ever experienced. Picture a slice of store-bought white bread, slightly hollowed out, filled with whole shrimp and Chinese sausage, then topped with a fried egg and siracha mayo — definitely not what you’re getting from Panda Express. And while the egg could have been cooked just a few seconds less for my personal taste, this is a must-try dish.

Next up was a very large bowl of chicken broth loaded with broccoli, teardrop tomatoes, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, scallions, shredded carrots and several scrumptious pork-and-shrimp dumplings. That was followed by one of the richest sandwiches I’ve ever had: Shredded short ribs, braised three to four hours, were grilled along with provolone, cheddar and onion jam on thick slices of bread, accompanied by a tomato dip. While one of the two halves was a bit heavy on the butter, the other was absolutely perfect, worthy of becoming the restaurant’s signature dish.

At this point, the rice bowl was practically superfluous. But the crispy duck leg in ginger scallion sauce with meat that fell off the bone, served alongside a delicious cucumber salad over white rice, was too good to resist.

My only complaint about Fat Choy is that the siracha mayo and the tomato dip that came with our sandwich lacked a bit of kick. But those are very mild complaints (no pun intended).

Su’s girlfriend and longtime business partner, Jenny Wong, is running the front of the house, and her service the night I visited was perfect. So while Fat Choy is still new, it’s already a solid operation with some amazing food you won’t find anywhere else.

FAT CHOY Eureka Casino, 595 E. Sahara, 794-3464. Read more about the Las Vegas dining scene on Al Mancini’s blog, www.almancini.net.