Origin India’s ornate dining room played host to two culinary masterminds, Chef Jet Tila and Tony Abou-Ganim. They were challenged with the task of marrying Jet’s unique take on Thai street food and The Master Mixologist’s creativity in cocktails.
The night began in haste, starting with the amuse bouche of crispy fried papadums, lightly seasoned with cardamom, with a tangy tamarind sauce and a sweet mint chutney. This was paired with Tony’s Negroni, a twist on the classic using exotic citrus and Bombay Sapphire. The Negroni was playing double duty by also being paired with the first course, a mango, shrimp, and coconut Yum salad. I have to admit, I have never thought that your average Tom Yum soup could be improved by re-purposing and deconstructing it into a salad, but it worked. It was lighter and more refreshing that the original, and the crunchy sweet coconut and spicy lime dressing paired well with the bitter and herbal Negroni.
The second course was something interesting and uncommon, braised crispy Pa-Lo pig tails with Thai herbs. While not particularly what I would consider as crispy, the fatty braised meat fell off what little bones were there, becoming a very rich and complex bite, like an ultimately tender short rib. The spices and herbs were how I would imagine a five-spice mole sauce would be if created by a Thai-inspired chef. This course was served with at “Jet 75″, Tony’s Asian version of a French 75. It used the newly released Bombay Sapphire East, which is infused with Thai Lemongrass and Szechuan Peppercorns, to great effect. The bright, fruity carbonation of the champagne cut through the heavy and oily feel the pig tails leave behind, preparing the palate for another delicious bite.
Next up was a Kao-Soi northern curry of stewed chicken with noodles, although ours was beef. I’m not one to complain, especially when it is generally considered an upgrade. A very friendly curry, full of bright spice and creamy coconut milk, and probably the most filling dish of the night. The other that came at that time was the Esarn Lemongrass grilled yardbird. The simplistic chicken dish was complimented, almost seasoned, by the Cable Car. Tony’s version of a Side Car, it used Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum, orange liquor, and a cinnamon spiced rim in a way I enjoyed greatly.
The dessert course was a traditional Indian sweet paste made from nuts, dates, tamarind, and spices. It was absolutely addictive. Equally addictive was the Golden Dragon cocktail, made from Bacardi 8 year aged rum and coconut milk, served over ice. I appreciated that neither the dessert nor the cocktail were overly sweet or filling. Just a nice, easy to enjoy ending note to the night. Our fair city is lucky to have these two giants of food and drink working in tandem. I hope when Chef Jet Tila’s wanderlust is satiated, he’ll bring his talents back to Vegas for good. Rumour has it that there will be more Pop-Ups in the future from these two, so keep an ear to the ground for the next night of amazing pairings.
Mitchell Wilburn is a food and drink writer living in Las Vegas. You can find his writings and reviews at mitchellwilburn.com
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