Highlights: Best Friend by Roy Choi, Park MGM Las Vegas

Best Friend by Roy Choi opened up end of 2018 and is a continuation of and inspired by Chef Choi’s Kogi trucks, which I enjoyed back in Los Angeles. Highlights here during my stay at Park MGM are definitely the food – large, fresh portions, amazingly addicting meats and kimchi fried rice. I would certainly come back here even on my own dime, and enjoy their food again! Great reminiscing about my former life as a student waiting to try the Kogi trucks that were all the rage back then.

 

My standard restaurant reviews include a breakdown by the following topics. Feel free to skip to whichever section you find most interesting.

  • Highlights
  • Ambiance
  • Atmosphere
  • Menu
  • Drinks
  • Appetizers
  • Entrees
  • Desserts
  • Service
  • Closing

Sponsored – this restaurant review is sponsored by the establishment and property in general. No additional compensation was received for this post other than the exchange of product.

 

Ambiance

This Korean BBQ restaurant is on the south side of Park MGM, on the way to New York New York, next to the new Eataly establishments. It’s a good walk from from the hotel lobby or main entrances through the casino and bars, past Moneyline and the Park Theater. You can’t miss the huge “BEST FRIEND” signs on a big yellow background. This is more casual eating, with a bar and hightop section up front with plenty of LA / Roy Choi memorabilia and swag, and through the meat locker plastic door curtain things you are ushered into a dimly lit, more intimate setting, away from the bright casino lights, but with pretty loud hip hop and rap blaring in the background.

They even have their on DJ station, spinning nightly Wednesday to Saturday from ~8 or 8:30 to close – and a limited late night menu from 10-12. Works very well with the new On the Record club next door where the patrons spill over.

 

Atmosphere

With female servers in red shiny tracksuits, and male servers and staff in white t-shirts, hats, and knee length cargo shorts, it made for a very SoCal, laid back, surfer/beach-going vibe. All they need now is those Rainbow flipflops and they’re good to go.

 

Menu

It’s a cute little binder, like something you’d find in school! Organized by different types of food. Their drink sections also have sweet drinks and cocktail slushies – not something you’d find in your traditional bar. Here I also did not see an auto-grat or concession fee. It is something to watch for in Las Vegas, where restaurants and other establishments try to nickel and dime you.

 

Drinks

We tried the horchata ($5), strawberry mango daquiri ($18), and the watermelon soju ($18). They all arrived about three minutes after ordering.

The daiquiri was slushy and strong in strawberry, although I could not taste the mango. The soju went down very smooth – you could easily down that one. Both of these were dangerously close to nonalcoholic and went down easily, but the daquiri had a weird bitter aftertaste. The horchata was not too sweet, with light hints of cinnamon.

Strawberry Mango Daquiri (L), Watermelon Soju (R), Horchata (M)

 

Appetizers

We ordered a range of small banchan dishes (marinated cucumbers, cucumbers and ‘jjang, kimchi, sprouts, etc.) which range from $3-7. Unfortunately, they were out of sprouts that day. They also brought over complimentary bread, a warm dinner roll, two minutes after ordering. Banchan actually arrived 24 minutes after ordering at which point they told me they were out of sprouts – unfortunate.

 

Entrees

The first entree (Kimchi Fried Rice, $15) arrived 11 minutes after ordering, 8 minutes after the appetizers. It was hot and creamy, with a slightly spicy taste (but not too much!). Some of the rice scabs – that’s the crunchy, thoroughly cooked rice) were deliciously crispy. This was by far the best dish – and we cleaned it up super quickly.

Three minutes later came the trademark Kogi tacos ($15) – these were what put Roy Choi and the food trucks on the map in LA, about a decade or so ago! I remember having them as an undergrad and thinking they were okay – wasn’t sure what the rage was. Three to a plate, these tacos were medium spicy, double wrapped in two tortillas, with an addicting flavor where you just have to keep eating it. However, the tortillas were not cooked all the way through.

After a while however, eating both the kimchi fried rice and the kogi tacos made my mouth feel as if it was on fire. Thankfully we have those cold, icy slushies to douse that flame.

 

Eleven minutes later came the Kimchi Jiggae (~$22-25?) and the delicious Galbi ($28) for the lady. Four minutes later arrived my personal favorite: spicy pork ($24)! Note that it was not cut super thing/stringy Bulgogi style, but rather thicker slices. Ribs chewed easily with that just off the grill taste and flavor, as well as some fatty parts. It was delicious. The soup was a half size – and I remembered they did not ask us the spiciness level during ordering. It was very spicy like a tomato soup, with lots of vegetables and tofu, as well as mushrooms.

 

They also made sure we had sufficient water and a bowl to share our food.

 

Dessert

About a half hour later we got our desserts. I did have to prompt them for them, but they brought them out quickly after asking. The Mango Budino ($10) was a custard, with cream and some crunch. The menu says dulce de leche and coconut streussel and I likened it to a mango pudding you would find in a typical asian dessert place. We also got the Shaved Ice Bingsu ($8) with condensed milk foam, and a prickly pear sorbet. The bingsu had some dragonfruit I believe, as well as vanilla ice cream.

 

Service

Our waitress, along with the manager, were very attentive, checking up on us, sharing some of the history behind some of the dishes and Roy Choi and the restaurant, and gave us free reign with a few rounds and open season on the menu. Unfortunately we were not able to drink sufficiently and sample more of that menu, but perhaps next time. It was interesting to hear the origin story. Additionally, the manager gave me a walk through showing me the cool DJ station after my meal.

 

Closing

I would (and have made plans to) come back on my own time. They also partner with Park MGM and MyVegas – so I was able to score a free appetizer with entree purchase coupon there. Even at full price, I was amazed at how reasonable it was – especially when you consider it is 1) a celebrity chef restaurant and 2) in Las Vegas! The meat dishes were $24-28, so about 25-50% more than comparable ones in the Bay Area or Los Angeles, but I would put their portion sizing at 50-100% as well, making it an excellent value. The Kimchee Fried Rice was absolute standout – the lady and I still talk about it.

Note – I would definitely not order as much as we did. However, the Hotelion would gladly suffer a fat belly for the experience and knowledge for you, the reader. We did not finish all of the food, and some of it (unfortunately) went to waste.

Definitely check Best Friend by Roy Choi out when you’re in Las Vegas, perhaps when you’re sampling at Eataly as well. Kudos to Park MGM for securing this franchise. It’s a brand new restaurant – opening up in late 2018 – so I hope it’s around for a very long time!

 

 

Sponsored – this restaurant review is sponsored by the establishment and property in general. No additional compensation was received for this post other than the exchange of product.

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