New Taiwanese Comfort Food Joint Is an Off-Strip Game-changer
Sheridan Su, who once sold baos in a food truck and then in a hair salon, has done big things in small Las Vegas spaces. He was a 2018 James Beard Award semifinalist at Flock & Fowl, a tiny off-Strip counter-service restaurant where he served world-class Hainan chicken rice. Su closed that spot after he opened a larger Flock & Fowl downtown, where he earned another James Beard Award semifinalist nod in 2019.
Now he’s turning his attention to another ultra-comforting food: Taiwanese braised-pork rice (lu rou fan). “Every grandma made this,” says Su, who is Taiwanese-American and grew up in L.A.’s San Gabriel Valley.
Su and his wife, Jenny Wong, have just opened Every Grain, an off-Strip restaurant that currently has nine seats. The couple, who also still run downtown’s Flock & Fowl as well as Fat Choy at the Eureka Casino, hope to add more seating at the 1,000-square-foot Every Grain as things progress. But they’re happy to start small as they serve a tightly focused menu built around braised-pork rice.
“We took a trip to Taiwan, and this dish was everywhere we went,” Su says. “It was just something that was part of every single meal.”
Every Grain’s menu features braised minced pork over a blend of rice that includes jasmine rice, brown rice, black rice, and sweet glutinous rice. Su uses skin-on pork belly, and the skin melts into the braising liquid as the pork cooks for four to five hours.
Bowls of Every Grain’s lu rou fan come with fried shallots, pickles, and a soy egg. Optional add-ons include tofu and Chinese sausage. You can also get crispy-skin chicken or a fried pork chop with your braised-pork rice if you want a bigger meal. There are nachos with lu rou fan gravy and cheddar-cheese sauce.
Beyond lu rou fan, the menu includes dan dan noodles, sesame noodles, a vegetable bowl, and small plates of Chinese greens and marinated cucumbers. Su plans to add an assortment of grain bowls. Wong is making specialty coffee and tea drinks.
Su has worked in high-profile restaurants like Sona in L.A. and Joël Robuchon and Comme Ça in Las Vegas, but he thinks a modest spot like Every Grain is where he can shine.
“I prefer the smaller places because there’s just more control over what we do,” Su says. “We continue to open these passion projects because we want the connection with the guests. To be able to cook for them and serve them is an experience we can’t get in a bigger restaurant.”
In addition, Su knows that several chefs around the country are elevating Taiwanese food, but he feels like there’s room for many more. “I think it’s something that’s still very underrepresented here in the U.S.,” he says. “When I first started my career, I was very happy doing French cooking and the California style of cooking. But the more and more I cooked, the more I craved the food I grew up on.”
Every Grain is currently open from 9:25 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. There are plans to add dinner service in the near future. Down the line, there might be something resembling a dinner party on certain evenings. Su says he wants that to feel like he’s inviting people to a gathering at his house.
He’s been reminiscing about dishes his mom used to make him. Steamed fish with ginger and scallions. Shredded pork with bean curd and Chinese chives. Preserved duck egg with tofu and a little oyster sauce.
“I do feel nostalgic,” Su says. “I want to get back to those foods that I miss.”
Every Grain, 1430 E. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas