Now he has opened a new endeavor at the Park MGM called Best Friend and Las Vegas locals are finding out just how special he is. The restaurant is a mix of some of his favorite recipes from L.A. with new ones he has developed just for us.
My wife and I visited a few days after it opened, New Year’s eve. We had reservations for 5:00 pm and there was already a line when we arrived. The more-showy Eataly right next door was packed too but I was glad we were on our way to Best Friend instead.
You enter through what is a replica of his parent’s grocery store. There is a bar area there and a laundry list of candy, tee shirts and nick knacks available for sale.
You continue your short journey through a clear plastic curtain into a dining area that could look as though it could be a street in East Los Angeles. With up-tempo Latino sounds for ambiance you get to your table and order. The volume level with the music is a bit loud but seems to moderate the longer you are there.
There are a lot of shareable items here. From the starter menu are bowls of veggies like spinach, broccoli and the best kimchi I have had. It had a crispness to it that is rare.
A plate of dumplings was next plus charred octopus mixed with squash and sesame. Many are a bit afraid to try octopus but don’t be, this one will become a classic as it has in many restaurants in town.
Dishes from L.A. include a must-order, signature Carnitas Tacos. The meat is accented with salsa verde, cilantro-onion-lime sauce and radish. One of the things Choi does is balance his flavors well.
That was very apparent with these beauties. Slippery Shrimp featured rock shellfish with chili mayo and walnuts. We were surprised at not only how good they were but also the size of the shellfish.
There are a lot of other choices like Garlic Chicken with soy-marinated Jidori thighs. Spicy Pork also won’t disappoint.
Dessert is not to be missed. On a recommendation from our knowledgeable waiter we chose to share Date Cake. It was moist, not too sweet and melted in our mouths. A hot fudge sundae and strawberry shortcake are other sweet options.
Since the restaurant was only open for about 10 days Roy himself was there to greet folks and visit. He stopped by our table and asked how things were. We gave him a huge thumbs up and headed home - happy, full and looking forward to the next time we could visit.
Best Friend, Park MGM Hotel and Casino. Open for dinner only daily at 5:00 pm, 3770 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. (702) 730-6770. www.parkmgm.com.