Las Vegas is finally catching on to the pop-up restaurant craze. There’s been one by Jet Tila at Marche Bacchus, some at the Naked City Pizza Shop and other random ones around town. But none caught my attention like Hawk’r, a one night event (on Sunday 12/18/11) at Bread and Butter bakery from Chef Sheridan Su of Great Bao.

Limited to 30 people, I was fortunate enough to score a seat with a friend. A six course meal for $30 by a chef with great credentials? I was like a kid on Christmas Eve — anxiously counting the seconds until the big event. Unfortunately, the dinner didn’t live up to my expectations. While it was still a delicious meal, it lacked a certain degree of finesse and detail.

The first course was a beet and vodka marinated hamachi with soy salt, lemon and horseradish. This crostini-like dish was a beautiful array of colors and textures with a mild and harmonious flavor, save for the slight heat from the horseradish which provided a nice finish.

Next up was a seafood congee with a salted radish omelet and Chinese doughnut. I’ll admit that I know nothing of this dish. It was the first time i’ve tried it and since I don’t have anything to compare it to all I can really say is that I liked it. Also in this rice soup was a shrimp and soft shell crab tempura which gave this Asian comfort food dish a wide range in textures.

The third course was a roast duck tamale with duck chicharron. The presentation was nothing extraordinary — the tamale wrapped in it’s husk and sitting in a bowl, sans the chicharron. However, the contents inside more than made up for it. The corn and duck mixture was a sweet and savory blend of awesomeness.

Up next was a dish that has made Chef Su famous in these parts. The Great Bao — pork belly, preserved mustard greens, crushed peanuts and cilantro in a delightfully soft and chewy bao. As always, it was delicious.

The fifth dish was a bit of a letdown. Similar to following up a band like the Black Keys with Nickelback. Ok…. maybe not that bad. Taiwanese beef noodle soup. I appreciated the playfulness of the plating. It arrived in a Cup O’noodles styrofoam container. The beef was tender but lacked bold flavors and the noodles were gummy.

To end the meal we had a Spanish milk tea with tapioca. Boba drinks aren’t my usual… cup of tea… haha, but this one was very tasty. Topped with a scoop of ice cream, it certainly satisfied my sweet tooth.

Later we found out that two cooks that the chef hired to assist him failed to show up and one of his electric burners died on him towards the end of dinner. That would explain the less than perfect meal. It’s commendable that he apologized for the food not being up to his standards and amazing that he was able to put out so many solid dishes without a staff to help him. That adversity and the way he handled things showed he’s a class act. Hopefully, he’ll have another pop-up dinner (and sous chef) to show what he can really do.

4 Stars

10940 S Eastern Ave
Henderson, NV 89052