Paid In Full
Udon Fries – Animal Style
Sweetbread Katsu – Snow Pea, Bacon, Radishes, Frisee, Bulldog Sauce
Crispy Tapioca – Aged Parmesan, Nori Powder
Crispy Brussels Sprouts – Sweet Chili Vin, Pumpkin Seeds, Basil
Sea Okonomiyaki – Squid, White Fish, Sea Urchin Aioli
Traditional Octopus Takoyaki – Takoyaki Sauce, Pickled Ginger, Bonito
Escargot Takoyaki – Salsa Verde, Garlic Aioli
Triple Garlic Yakisoba – Pork Belly, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Negi
Mapo Tofu Frito Pie – Minced Pork, Aged Cheddar Cheese, Scallion
Karaage – Sake & Soy Chicken Thigh, Maggi Ranch Dressing
Vanilla Soft Serve Sundae – Balsamic Blueberry Sauce, Sea Salt Graham Cracker
Vanilla Soft Serve Sundae – Maple Cookie Crumble, Brown Sugar Bacon, Walnut Sauce
Black Sesame Panna Cotta – Dark Cherries, Black + White Sesame Brittle
Sweet Anko & Camembert Toast – Cap ‘n Crunch Breading, Kuromitsu Syrup
Admitting up front that I have no idea who Eric B & Rakim are, nor a great deal of appreciation for eateries that seem to value being “cool” over being excellent, it was with four frequent dining pals that a table was filled at Paid in Full on Friday night, an Email sent in advance and answered by Chef Michael Plourde putting names on the wait list at 6:30pm but the no reservations policy still seeing groups wait for nearly thirty minutes in a small area next to the Bar.
Decorated in a style best described as Retro-J-Pop, everything from graffiti geishas to Star Wars and a disco ball making an appearance in the former Fish n’ Bowl space on South Durango, Paid In Full originally opened its doors in late September as the brainchild of two former Wynn employees with high accolades coming from at least one highly valued voice, the Japanese Street Food concept at the very least something new in a part of town otherwise mostly same-same.
In reality as much “fusion” as it is Street Food, the frequently changing menu only found via Social Media featuring everything from “Traditional Takoyaki” to a Mapo Tofu “Frito Pie” over a range of some 25-30 plates ranging small to large, it was following recommendations of “three plates per person” that exactly one-half of the day’s dishes were requested, a nicely paced roll-out of 1-2 at a time occurring over the course of nearly two hours.
Well priced and best portioned for groups of two or four thanks to plating, the grand total with tax and tip coming out to around $40 each on this particular night, it was with waters filled frequently that dinner began by way of flash-fried Udon covered in Sauce not dissimilar to that of a Big Mac, the flavors nostalgic for those who’ve not eaten at McDonald’s in nearly two decades while the follow-up Sweetbread Katsu was marred by smaller Nuggets than those seen in pictures which largely muted the Offal, though the sliced Snow Pea salad and Asian Barbeque Sauce were quite nice.
Continuously giving off a Momofuku circa-2007 vibe throughout the evening, the music a bit lower but the influences undeniable, it was as Bel Biv DeVoe played that all agreed one slice of the Crispy Tapioca was enough to get a sense of the dish and move on to better, the oily mouthfeel quickly replaced by Brussels Sprouts with sweet Sauce juxtaposing Pumpkin Seeds and crispy Basil a very novel and delicious spin on a dish that seems to be offered everywhere these days.
Taking a briny turn for the only part of the meal served as a trio, two styles of Takoyaki and an Okonomiyaki served more like a Burger Patty-sized Fishcake highlighted by the Traditional Octopus Balls as the others simply came across as mushy and muddled by too many competing flavors, it was surprisingly in the “Large Plates” that Paid In Full really hit full stride, the take-out box of springy Noodles dazzling with Garlic mellowed by Cabbage and Mushrooms while the clever Mapo Tofu cast aside any sense of subtlety by way of minced Pork amidst the crispy Corn Chips and plenty of Sichuan Peppers beneath melted Cheddar Cheese.
Strangely saving a small plate of fried Chicken for last, the flavor fine but Breading lacking any crunch to help differentiate it from Flesh, it was setting aside only one of three Sundaes that dinner concluded in four Desserts, the Vanilla Soft Serve taking well to both Blueberries and Graham Crackers as well as Bacon and Maple with lightly bitter Walnut Sauce while the finely blended Panna Cotta and Red Bean Cheese Toast each walked a tightrope between sweet and savory to good effect.
THREE STARS: Still fairly new at only six weeks in Paid In Full is the sort of place one wants to love for having the guts to be different, but based on just one meal the food thus far seems to lack consistency not only from dish to dish but from what is featured in photos early on to what was served on this particular night.
RECOMMENDED: Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Traditional Takoyaki, Mapo Tofu Frito Pie, Triple Garlic Yakisoba, Sweet Anko & Camembert Toast.
AVOID: Sweetbread Katsu, Escargot Takoyaki, Karaage.
TIP: Open from 5:00pm-10:00pm Monday through Thursday and an hour later on Friday/Saturday, Liquor license pending and website mostly useless.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.