Is a reimagined dessert by the same name just as sweet as the original? The answer is a resounding yea if you’re smart enough to order the mango and sticky rice at China Poblano Noodles and Tacos, one of several think-outside-the-box eateries at the heart of the Strip’s most luxe and swanky resort, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
First, about China Poblano’s menu, which dances delicately between fan-favorite cuisines Chinese and Mexican, offering dim sum beside tacos beside noodles beside ceviche. Dishes aren’t fused—you won’t see some crazy lo mein with crushed corn chips or a taco filled with dumplings—they just cohabitate in the same place, proffering some of the Strip’s best displays of choice without “buffet” in the name.
But despite its deep list of savories, the restaurant’s hands-down winner for creative cookery is Head Chef Mitchell Holmes’ deconstructed, totally tweaked interpretation of traditional mango and sticky rice. A dish adored for its toothsome marriage of cooked sweet rice and fresh, candy-like mango, this mango and sticky rice barely resembles its namesake yet hits all the right flavors. And then, its contrasting textures blow the whole thing away.
Are you curious? First to note is that this multilayered darling comes in a bowl that begs to be dug into deeply. (No one ever confirms nor denies fingers and tongues being seen as the ultimate, bowl-cleaning utensils.) At the bottom is custardy goodness made from cooking down Valencia rice in coconut milk and straining the mixture to separate the custard from the rice grains themselves.
Next comes the mango granita, which sits in the dessert’s center and is made from a puree of fresh Mexican mangoes and a touch of chili arbol. Last is the dish’s tour du force: A mango espuma (rice cream), which is made from combining coconut and heavy creams that China Poblano hits with a touch of nitrogen and dispenses through its N20 whipped-cream maker. The whole thing is then dusted with caramelized rice crisps.
Propriety these days practically screams that this and all sweet treats should be shared. But with enough planning (or self restraint…call it what you’d like), you savvy diners will be smart enough to dinner-up small to dessert-up big.
Vegas dining delivers once again with this rich, hidden gem. So if you love yourself a good sticky situation every now and then, China Poblano’s mango and sticky rice is one swoonworthy mess you won’t mind eating yourself out of again and again and again.