Desert Companion

DEALicious table for two

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Patisserie Manon

Patisserie Manon - Cassoulet (410, $25), Parisian ($6.95), Escargot ($8.95)

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Patisserie Manon

the diners:  Greg Thilmont and John Coulter

the dishes: cassoulet ($10.25), Parisian ($6.95), escargot ($8.95)

Greg: Nobody really expects a French place to have a good deal, right? Normally, people associate French food with expense, even though people in France don’t eat like that every day. What do you think so far?

John: It’s pretty awesome. I like stuff inside a strip mall — that’s where you get the best deals.

G: So, let’s talk about what we’ve got here. You’ve had cassoulet before, right? Normally, cassoulet comes in a big earthenware pan. And it gets a crust, because it’s slow-baked, and there’s beans and sausage, maybe duck …

J: This feels like my mom made it. That’s a compliment.

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G: This isn’t a total compliment, but it’s like the apotheosis of beanie-weenies. It’s got beans, a hunk of pork, some sausage ...

J: (in comically exaggerated French accent) Sausage …

G: The white beans; cassoulet’s gotta have white beans; tomato sauce. I mean, this ain’t no Van de Camps, right? This is pretty good. For those who can’t see it, it’s in a little sauce pan, with a copper bottom. If you were eating at your stove, by yourself, it might look pretty bad — like drunk food …

J: Like you were trying to make sure your stomach’s full before …

G: Exactly, like you’re soaking it up. So we got that, some bread, for what, $10.50, $10.95? That’s a pretty good deal. It’s rich; it’s not super-filling, but it’s good. I mean, it’s not your 14-hour baked cassoulet, but …

J: The beef was pretty good.

G: And this is pretty crazy to see in a strip mall, but you can order a little ramekin of escargot — covered in a little herb butter ...

J: The taste and texture, they remind me of morel mushrooms. And they remind me a little of Rocky Mountain oysters — pig testicles.

G: Which people can’t get enough of. Now, in the West, it’s all bull testicles.

J: We had those occasionally, but they’re so huge, you really know you’re eating a testicle.

G: We had to get a sandwich. What’ve we got here?

J: The Parisian.

G: So, we have in there ... what?

J: Brie. Cornichon. Some sort of ham.

G: This is very traditional, right?

J: This is very good. Dig into the cassoulet. It’s very homey ...

G: Comfort food. (Chewing) No truffles are in it. This might be the first time you go into a French place — well, there might be truffles here somewhere, but I haven’t seen any.

J: (Chewing) Reminds me of home.

8751 W. Charleston Blvd. # 110, 702-586-2666, patisseriemanon.com

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Moko Asian Bistro

Moko Asian Bistro - kimchi fried rice ($7), Bulgogi pasta ($7)

Moko Asian Bistro 

the diners:  Scott Dickensheets, Brent Holmes

the dishes: Kimchi fried rice ($7), bulgogi pasta ($7)

Brent: You can get kimchi fried rice at almost every Korean restaurant from here to Kalamazoo. I don’t even like fried rice, I’ll be honest. I first tried this one on a fluke — and it was perfect.

Scott: How’s the spiciness of it?

B: It’s not super-spicy at first. One of the really neat things about it is that as you eat, it goes from flavorful with a spicy back to hotter and hotter.

S: It’s cumulative.

B: It’s cumulative. And there are some perfect-cut carrots, zucchini —

S: Is that bacon?

B: Yes, bacon. And every single grain of rice is coated with a little oil, a little spice. There’s great pickle and heat from the kimchi. And it’s seven bucks!

S: This is seven bucks, too. I’ve never seen bulgogi-beef noodles before.

B: There’s a lot of different bulgogi dishes out there, but I’ve never seen a bulgogi noodle dish, either — especially a not-soupy version. This is a drier treatment.

S: It’s flavorful, but not spicy.

B: It’s got that rich, meaty thing. There’s almost like a really satisfied 5-year-old in there. It’s almost a Chef Boyardee vibe, you know? You’re getting these rich chunks of meat and these chewy noodles, and that’s neat for the kid in you, but the flavor palate is advanced enough that you can look another adult in the eye.

S: Well, I’m a gutbucket; I’m not embarrassed by my food. But yeah, it’s a very sophisticated take on spaghetti.

B: Same here. Fried rice is an entry-level, American-Asian dish. And this is so far above that, presentation-wise, in sophistication, in execution of flavor …

S: And if you order fried rice at a fast-food Asian place, you’ll get a mountain of it — twice what you have there. And yet by some inverse magic, your little pile of rice will turn out to be pretty filling.

B: We don’t talk much about what flavor can do to perceptions of serving. People make fun of high-end restaurants for serving very small plates. But they’re encapsulating a lot of depth, a lot of flavor —

S: The richness itself is filling.

B: Right. I couldn’t get through this if it was the size of a Panda Express fried-rice bucket. This is more than enough to get you through the rest of your day.

6350 W. Charleston Blvd. #120, 702-489-4995, mokolasvegas.com

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