Arawan Thai Bistro and Dessert
Strawberry Infused Water
Thai Iced Tea
Crispy Wontons – Sweet and Spicy Sauce
Red Curry Fish Cake – Homemade fish cakes – Served with sweet chili cucumber topped with crushed peanuts
Ahi Tuna Larb – Ahi Tuna tossed in spicy lime dressing with rice powder, mango, avocado, shallot, green onion, and cilantro – served with crispy wontons
Arawan Pad Thai – Fresh prawns wok-stir-fried in a tangy tamarind sauce with chicken, rice noodle, egg, green onions and bean sprouts – wrapped with egg and topped with crushed peanuts
Squid-ink Drunken Noodles – Shrimp, squid, fish, scallops & mussels wok-stir-fried with black spaghetti, green & white onions, fresh Thai basil, fresh green peppercorns, mushrooms, and a delicate sweet-spicy chili sauce
Duck Palow – Duck marinated in house special sauce, served with white rice
Sweet Sensation – Thai pancake with sweetened condensed milk and sugar, Thai tea ice cream, Brulee banana, fresh strawberries, and Oreo crumb
Earthquake – Lychee sorbet, dark chocolate spheres, tropical mixed fruit candies, hazelnut streusel, and warm raspberry sauce
Open now for just under two years, the choice to join a plaza already featuring world famous Lotus of Siam and Komol Restaurant originally an odd choice that had many labeling them ‘that new Thai place near Lotus,’ Arawan Thai Bistro and Dessert has defied the odds by etching out their own unique style of Thai cuisine that is quite unlike any other in Las Vegas, the duo of Chefs Jui and Gail creating some truly beautiful dishes with a focus on quality ingredients that do not compromise authenticity.
Technically located in “Commercial Center,” though if any local is asked the answer to “where is it?” almost always revolves around its Beard Award Winning competition, Arawan Thai Bistro and Dessert joins most of the Las Vegas off-Strip ethnic options in being largely understated in its outward appearance, a noon arrival on Saturday finding the inside perhaps 1/4 full but soon to fill past 2/3 over the course of the next thirty minutes, Its soft soundtrack and light décor making the space seem spacious yet intimate, the overhead lighting great for photographs of the sort of Thai Cuisine that most certainly deserves a Kodak moment.
Dividing the menu into Signatures, Starters, Entrees and Desserts, each section offering ten or more items at prices that are competitive to other fine-dining Thai restaurants in town, service at Arawan is of the gracious, yet not-entirely-organized style familiar to those who’ve dined in similar restaurants across Sin City, the meal beginning with a small plate of Wonton Chips and a housemade sweet and spicy Dipping Sauce, the Thai Iced Tea ordered mere moments after sitting down completely forgotten until another young woman was reminded, but still arriving more than five minutes after the first plates.
No doubt a refined concept, the focus here moreso on the food and its presentation than esoteric plates or expansive wine list of Lotus or Chada Thai, a perusal of starters shows everything from Spring Rolls to Larb and Papaya Salad present and accounted for, the more interesting options a quartet of Fish Cakes spiked with Red Curry that fry up light and oilless as well as the Ahi Tuna “Larb” that forgoes the typical ground Meat in favor of Poke-style Sashimi Cubes bathed in a spicy blend of Citrus, Mango, Avocado and crispy Shallots.
Moving on to entrees, all three taken from the Signatures though staples such as Drunken Noodles, Curries, and Mint or Ginger dishes are available with a choice of Meat toppings or Tofu, Arawan’s Crispy Duck fares similarly to many in the area by way of slow roasting followed by a high temperature finish that leaves center pieces moist and succulent while unfortunately dehydrating the edges, the restaurant’s eponymous Pad Thai performing more consistently and one-upping most by placing thin Noodles and Chicken punched up with Fish Sauce beneath an edible net, the two butterflied Prawns on top alone commanding the whole plate’s cost at any Casino in town without being nearly as attractive, filling or complex.
Nearly lured in by both the Rib Eye and the Short Rib, but eventually deciding that something as unique as Squid Ink Drunken Noodles probably warranted a look, Arawan takes a chance at offending purists by replacing the flat Rice Noodles more commonly seen with Black Spaghetti and a similar spice profile focused on Thai Basil and Green Peppercorns, the flavors not particularly ‘authentic’ when paired to Cod, de-shelled Shrimp, Mussels and Scallops but delicious nonetheless, and easily the meal’s most highly recommendable savory.
Happy to give any restaurant including “Dessert” in its title a chance to wow with sweets, Chef Gail clearly not one to be satisfied with Sticky Rice and Mango slices or Tempura Plantains, it was with tough choices made to account for both time and capacity that two items were selected from a total of nine, the Sweet Sensation taking the aforementioned Banana idea to new heights by wrapping the torched Fruit in a thin Pancake and sweetening it with condensed milk and sugar before adding Thai Tea Ice Cream, while a dish called “Earthquake” replicates Le Cirque’s Petit Boule de Chocolat presentation, replacing the flavors inside with Lychee sorbet and Fruity Candies that add an extra layer of taste and texture to the melted Chocolate and hot, pureed Raspberries.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: No doubt committed to its vision, most of the ‘modern’ ideas performing very well while desserts are not only delicious but aesthetically pleasing, Arawan Thai Bistro and Dessert is a place worth checking out in the same vein as Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen in Summerlin, a change of pace from all the other Thai spots in town with an ambiance and variety of plates good for both the adventurous ‘foodie’ or couples just looking for something new to try on date night.
RECOMMENDED: Squid Ink Drunken Noodles, Arawan Pad Thai, Earthquake.
AVOID: Edges of the Duck Palow were almost too dry to eat, especially without the sauce, while the Ahi Larb is a cute idea, but not really Larb at all.
TIP: Thirteen different plates are offered Monday through Friday, 11:00am to 3:00pm, as part of a $9.95 Lunch Special that also includes a Salad and Dessert.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.