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First Impressions: Jai-Ho Restaurant

Jai-Ho’s logo calls itself Jai-Ho Restaurant.  They should stick with that.

Jai-Ho’s website URL, however, is jaihofusion.com, and lists itself as Jai-Ho Fusion several times on the website.  Also the big ass glowing red sign over the front door (as you can see below) says Jai-Ho Indian & Chinese Fusion.

Jai-Ho Restaurant

Jai-Ho Restaurant

Why am I starting this First Impression review with all of this semantical bullshit, you ask?  Well, because Jai-Ho Restaurant, is a whole lot better than Jai-Ho Fusion.  The word “fusion” means that something at some point needed to be fused.  A bunch of pages of Indian food and a few pages of Indo-Chinese does not a fusion restaurant make.  I suppose the “Indo-Chinese” part is where Jai-Ho is trying to squeak out the foodie buzz word of “fusion”, but it’s a separate cuisine.

Indo-Chinese cuisine came from Chinese people that lived in Calcutta.  They used their homegrown Chinese techniques on the local flavors and ingredients of their new digs in India.  It’s just as much of a “fusion” as a Lomo Saltado from Peru or a Gumbo from Louisiana.  Sure there are influences from different places, but it has become a cuisine in and of itself.  Perhaps in a way its the ultimate of fusion…I don’t know.  What I’m getting at is that you aren’t going to get what you might be expecting when you see that big ass glowing red sign over the front door.  You’re going to get Indian food of varying quality and Indo-Chinese food of worse quality.  You’re not going to get Sweet and Sour Tandoori Chicken, or Peking Duck Vindaloo (and hopefully you never will!).

Jai-Ho Restaurant Place Setting

Jai-Ho Restaurant Place Setting

First and foremost, before I break too much balls on this unsuspecting, newly opened restaurant, it’s important to note that the Indian Food at Jai-Ho is light years better than its predecessor, Taza.  Some of the dishes are extraordinarily good, some of them need a wee bit of work.

Fabulous Aloo Bonda from Jai-Ho

Fabulous Aloo Bonda from Jai-Ho

I’ve eaten twice at Jai-Ho thus far; once for dinner with The Wife and then once to tackle the Lunch Buffet all by my lonesome.  Our dinner started off with a bang, a lovely Aloo Bonda ($4.95) which is sort of like a samosa without the pastry shell.   Instead of the pastry shell, the ball of spiced up mashed potato is dipped in gram flour and then deep fried.  It was packed with flavor, and fried perfectly.  The accompanying Tamarind and Coriander Chutneys were also very well done.  Very impressive start.

Close to being a good Chicken Tikka Masala from Jai-Ho Restaurant

Close to being a good Chicken Tikka Masala from Jai-Ho Restaurant

Then we moved on to the entrees which I got my litmus test of any Indian joint, Chicken Tikka Masala ($12.95) and The Wife rolled with a dish from the Indo-Chinese portion of the War and Peace sized menu, Hakka Noodles with Chicken ($10.95).  The Chicken Tikka Masala was a bit of disappointment because while the yogurt and tomato flavors came to say hello, there was next to no development in the spice category.  You can taste the yogurt marinade in the actual pieces of chicken, a sort of silver lining to the sleeper of the masala which the chicken bathed in.

Hakka Noodles with Chicken from Jai-Ho. Disaster.

Hakka Noodles with Chicken from Jai-Ho. Disaster.

The Hakka Noodles were quite terrible.  Grossly overcooked to the point of mush, miserably grainy and with stomach-turning cheap and fatty deep fried chunks of chicken, I officially declared it inedible, although The Wife powered through a good portion of it out of sheer hunger.  It was a shame they used such heinous chicken for the Hakka Noodles, as the Chicken in my dish was much better.  I don’t know if I got lucky or if The Wife had a freak disaster, but that’s the way it was on that day.

Some Very Good Things on Jai-Ho's Lunch Buffet

Some Very Good Things on Jai-Ho's Lunch Buffet

Yesterday I hit up the Lunch Buffet ($11.95) to sample more of Jai-Ho’s wares.  Some of it was a grand slam, some of it not so much.  Out of the park good was one of my favorite Indian Lunch Buffet items that always makes me do the happy dance when I see it; Saag Paneer (sometimes called Palak Paneer, don’t ask me what the difference is).  I love me a good Saag Paneer, a creamy purée of spinach and spices with paneer cheese.  There are few things on Earth that go better with good naan than big spoonful of Saag Paneer.  Fortunately, Jai-Ho’s lunch buffet has some of the best Saag / Palak Paneer I’ve had and some pretty decent naan to go with it.

Another big hit on the buffet was the very flavorful Dal Tadka, or lentil curry.  Sometimes Indian Buffets sport weak lentils, but these were roaring with spices.  However, nothing on the buffet packed the punch like the Chana Masala (Chickpeas in Curry).  I love chickpeas, and this was one of the best preparations of chickpeas I’ve had anywhere.  Indian food on steroids.  The Vegetarian selections on the buffet were certainly on point, and for the Vegas Veggies that are out there looking for a place for lunch, you won’t find much better than this buffet.

Plate Numero Uno at Jai-Ho Lunch Buffet

Plate Numero Uno at Jai-Ho Lunch Buffet

Unfortunately it wasn’t all great, and like the Chicken Tikka Masala, the Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken) displayed a lack of development in the spice department.  How the Chana Masala was so robust, yet the Chicken Makhani put me to sleep doesn’t quite compute.  Also hurting the dish was a hurried hack job of the Tandoori Chicken in it, with pieces of bone and cartilage strewn about.  The actual Tandoori Chicken on the buffet line still in it’s naked form was also a pass.  Tasting only of cheap chicken and smoke, it wasn’t worth the effort.  Oh, how I pine for the days of the Green Tandoori Chicken that used to be on Namaste’s Lunch Buffet before they changed chefs.

Certainly not unique to the Jai-Ho buffet, but something that has always had me scratch my head, is that if naan can be brought to the table fresh from the kitchen, then why not the rice?  Rice sucks on a steam table.  My first trip to the buffet line, the rice was just fine.  By the time my 2nd round took place, the rice was now mostly rock hard pellets.

On the buffet, they had only two Indo-Chinese items of note; Manchurian sauce to put on something and a very sad looking Fried Rice complete with frozen mixed veg.  I avoided the Manchurian sauce because it looked like one of those fire engine red, corn starchy, MSG pumped syrupy sauces that I despise in Chinese cuisine….which I believe is usually only found in parts outside of China.  Yeah yeah yeah…I know I should have taken one for the team so I can report back on it, but hey, I figure if people get to treat me like a dog because this mess ain’t published by Stephens or Greenspun, I might as well enjoy the occasional scratch that goes along with it.

Indian Stuff Is Pretty.

Indian Stuff Is Pretty.

The big question is; Is the Jai-Ho Lunch Buffet worth not driving all the way to Namaste for those in the South and Southeast parts of the valley?  If you’re a vegetarian (they do put cream / yogurt in much of the dishes) or can be satisfied by flavorful vegetable dishes then it is a resounding yes.  Other than the rices, the non-meat dishes were splendid and the naan was also decent.  If you absolutely need meat to get through the day (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!) then you might want to drive the extra 15 or so minutes to Namaste.

Personally, I think they should axe the Indo-Chinese portion of the menu entirely and focus on making the best Indian cuisine they can.  The Indo-Chinese portion seems like, and more importantly, tastes like an afterthought.  I understand that it’s a non-represented cuisine in Vegas, but maybe it should be represented somewhere else.  Simplify the menu, cut inventory costs and focus on the items that are closer to being great dishes.

I hope Jai-Ho works in this location.  When Taza was there, the food was too far away from good where I wanted to cheer it on so I had an Indian joint closer to my hood where I could get my quick fix.  Jai-Ho Restaurant is within a few pinches of garam masala and some better quality, better butchered protein away from standing along side the best Indian joints in town.

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Jai-Ho Restaurant

9530 S. Eastern Ave #180
Las Vegas, NV 89123

(702) 260-7555

http://www.jaihofusion.com

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Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife.

Follow Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

Only two days left! Shit! Please vote once today and once on 09/30/10 to help me get published!

Only two days left! Shit! Please vote once today and once on 09/30/10 to help me get published!

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5 comments to First Impressions: Jai-Ho Restaurant

  • Hey! You …almost… gave me a shout out :p Remember, my blog is about mainstream dining, not finding vegan restaurants, so this is a great post. Email me the html (with images) and i will repost this entire thing on my blog. Indian/Chinese/Asian cuisine is awesomely easy for veg*ns to eat. And it’s a great option when we have a large group of people dining with very different tastes.

    And, as a very important side note, Chana Masala is quite possibly my favorite favorite Indian dish ever!!

  • Damn, you got me built up about the Indo Chinese potential then kicked me in the nuts.

  • Lisa – Let me know when you get that post up we talked about on FB and I’ll link back here.

    Jerry – Ha! Sorry for the Indo-Chinese Blue Balls. I was kind of looking forward to it too….but then I was awfully confused when I saw the menu.

  • Sunjay

    hey guys i am from india,indochinese fusion is indian food cooked with indian and chinese ingredients, and the cooking done by Jaiho is not bad at all I would say try it yourself at least once taste your own taste buds and say for yourself.there decor is also beutiful for the evening ambience. try it youll know for your self.

  • nisha

    hi………..foooooooooood was very delicious specially chinese ….i love it …..i wanna eat it again & again……dont miss it if you are in vegas.

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