Best Friend by Roy Choi
Dumplings – Pork, Beef, Ginger, Tofu, Spicy Dipping Sauce
Spicy Pork Belly & Shoulder – Kochujang, Sesame
French Fries – Ramen Dust, Sambal Mayo
Spicy Rice Cake – Braised Short Ribs, Poached Egg, Cheese, Jalapeño
Street Corn – Lime Juice, Tajín, Cotija, Cilantro
Strawberry Cheesecake – Strawberry Sorbet, Strawberry & Yuzu Foam
Date Cake – Sticky Toffee, Caramel Ice Cream
Mango Budino – Dulce de Leche, Coconut Streusel, Granulated Sugar
Now located adjacent Eataly for over a year, Best Friend by Roy Choi remains a modest success for both Park MGM and the Chef from Los Angeles, though neon suggesting “Roy Choy Is My Best Friend” has recently been joined by Happy Hour Specials and All You Can Eat Mondays.
Entered via Bodega, a popular location for drinks with the hostess stand hidden in back, it is passing through translucent red curtains that guests enter a space filled with hanging plants and overly-loud Hip Hop, Dr. Dre and Biggie replaced later by a DJ spinning more modern tracks.
Still decorated with illuminated street scenes, but having apparently decided to abandon more suitable volume since January of last year, it was moments after seating that a waitress in Adidas appeared with menus, several changes noted including the elimination of some funky plates and clever nomenclature in favor of “Vegas Sh*t” such as Fried Chicken.
Dubbed a “Korean BBQ joint,” and now more closely resembling such in terms of offerings, it was after being informed that one of Best Friend’s Frozen Drinks was unavailable that “Frosé” was requested, its sweetness not far from a 7-Eleven Slurpee but the cost far more substantial.
A fast-paced meal, though service seemed unconcerned with empty Water glasses and languishing empty plates, it was no more than ten minutes after taking a bite of Best Friend’s complimentary Hawaiian Roll that five plates arrived in succession, fragrant Dumplings pleasant but $2.50 a bite while “Spicy Pork” was a better value but not even “hot” to a Caucasian guy from the Midwest.
Harboring mixed feelings on Roy Choy’s French Fries with Ramen Dust, hiked from $5 to $10 in the last 13-months, diners will definitely find fire in Sambal Mayo while springy Rice Cake bathed in a Stew of Short Ribs, Eggs and Cheese impress in terms of complexity with a good balance of Jalapeños and richness.
Also ordering Street Corn for the lady, enjoyable despite its lack of seasonality, Desserts remain mostly unchanged since opening, the Cheesecake a fun interpretation while switching from Cinnamon to Caramel Ice Cream makes Pastry Chef Angibeau Philippe’s Date Cake a bit better, though too much Coconut has unfortunately compromised the previously fantastic Mango Budino.
THREE STARS: It was with skepticism that Best Friend was originally approached, but unlike many “ethnic” Restaurants on-Strip Roy Choi’s first foray into Las Vegas pulled off “fusion” with polish, and now past the one-year mark Food remains good, though more pricey and “common,” while service has unfortunately taken a step back.
RECOMMENDED: Spicy Rice Cake, Date Cake.
AVOID: Spicy Pork Belly & Shoulder, Frosé.
TIP: Check the board outside for Vegas Golden Knights gameday and Late Night specials.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.