China Mama is a well-known and popular Chinese restaurant located in Las Vegas Chinatown, just a short drive west of the Las Vegas Strip. Loved by both locals and visitors, the neighborhood eatery is renowned for its extensive menu featuring dumplings, steamed buns, and other authentic Chinese dishes.
I’ve wanted to try China Mama for a while, but I’ve never had the chance until now. Since it was a busy Friday night, I knew I would have to wait for a table, but I love Chinese food so much that I didn’t mind. I was sure the wait would be worth it.
As a reminder, China Mama has two locations. The other one is on Jones Blvd. The location on Spring Mountain Rd. in the Shanghai Plaza, which I visited, is officially known as China Mama 2. But for this post, I’ll just call it China Mama.
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Arrival at China Mama
Since I had a car, I decided to drive from the Las Vegas Strip to China Mama. While the drive was short, the parking lot was crowded. Finding an available spot in Shanghai Plaza proved tricky.
As I anticipated, there was a line upon my arrival at China Mama. I walked past a group of people waiting outside and entered the restaurant. Right by the entrance was a tablet for adding your name to the waitlist.
I entered my name and phone number into the tablet and promptly received a text message on my phone. After that, I found a seat inside the restaurant and settled in for the wait. While China Mama does take reservations, they only take reservations for parties of 6 or more.
Fortunately, I arrived shortly after they opened for dinner, so the wait was only 30 minutes. However, by the time I finished my meal and left, the wait had extended to over an hour.
Beautiful and Open Interior of China Mama
As I stepped inside China Mama, I couldn’t help but notice the open design and the well-lit dining room, thanks to tall ceilings and abundant lighting. The clean layout, adorned with artwork on the walls, an open kitchen, and exposed pipes, added to the ambiance.
Casual and upscale, the décor had a modern yet traditional feeling. The clean and comfortable space created an inviting environment for casual dinners and special occasions. Simply put, it had a beautiful interior.
I could tell the owners designed a dining space that aimed to offer more than just great food. A lot of thought went into the design to make it stand out from other Chinese restaurants in Las Vegas’ Chinatown.
There was also a small bar near the front of the restaurant, close to the entrance. I found the presence of the bar somewhat unnecessary because of the limited seating and its proximity to the entrance, where guests were waiting for a table.
China Mama Menu
Like many Chinese restaurants, the menu at China Mama was extensive. There were so many menu items that it would take multiple visits to try them all.
On the menu’s first page, you will find Mama’s Specialty, Specialty, Handmade Pastry, Appetizers, Beef & Mutton, Seafood, Vegetable, Noodle, Rice, and Dessert.
The second page of the menu features some similar and new categories. This page includes Appetizers, Soup, Beef, Seafood, Tofu, Sesame Ball, Pork, Poultry, Vegetable, Pastry, Noodle, and Rice.
Instead of describing the entire menu, it is probably easier for me to link to the official menu so you can view it for yourself.
Complimentary Jasmine Tea
When I sat down at the table, I was pleasantly surprised to find a complimentary glass tea pot waiting for me. It was a thoughtful touch, especially on a chilly winter evening in Las Vegas.
Inside the pot was jasmine tea. Even though it was simple, the tea was fragrant in flavor and had a touch of sweetness. Finally, I found the tea to pair well with the plates of food I ordered.
Stir-Fried Green Bean
While I enjoy green beans occasionally, it’s not something I frequently order at restaurants. This simple dish is surprisingly flavorful when prepared well, like at Din Tai Fung. If you are interested, you can read about my visit to the original Din Tai Fung location in Taipei.
After hearing so many great things and reading rave reviews about the Stir-Fried Green Bean ($13.99), I knew I had to order it.
The dish was prepared by stir-frying green beans in a hot wok with oil. The result was crunchy, smoky green beans that remained tender and fresh. While seasoned well and rich from the oil, they were on the saltier side. And they got saltier as I ate them.
Mixed in with the green beans was garlic and diced red bell peppers. The garlic became aromatic and somewhat crunchy after being stir-fried, while the red bell peppers, though not spicy, added a fresh element to the dish. I found the red bell peppers to balance out the richness of the oil and the saltiness of the beans.
Wonton in Szechwan Pepper Sauce
Szechwan cuisine, more commonly known as Sichuan cuisine, is popular for its bold and spicy flavors often using Sichuan peppercorns and chili peppers. If you enjoy spicy foods, like myself, then you will enjoy anything having to do with Sichuan cuisine. And, this is why I ordered the Wonton in Szechwan Pepper Sauce ($13.99).
The pepper sauce looked beautiful and tasted even better. It was rich, smoky, and delicious with a kick of heat. There was a generous amount of the pepper sauce, almost like a soup, and it coated all the wontons. While you might find it spicy, I was hoping for a bit more heat.
When I picked up one of the wontons with my chopsticks, I was surprised by how delicate the wonton wrappers were. The wrappers were so soft and tender that they started to unfold and fall apart, exposing a spongy, moist, and tender pork meatball inside.
I enjoyed the combination of flavors and textures between the pepper sauce, pork ball, and wonton. But, for me, the soft texture of the wrappers somewhat ruined the wonton experience.
Mama’s Special Pan Fried Pork Buns
Another item on the menu that I had heard a lot about was Mama’s Special Pan-Fried Pork Buns ($17.99). The presentation was beautiful, with the buns plated upside down, revealing a unique lattice pattern created during the pan-frying process. And for the price, this might have been the best value on the menu as they gave you enough pork buns to feed a family.
When I picked up the first bun, I was surprised by how heavy it was. It was much larger and denser than I had expected. The wrapper was thick and chewy on top while crispy on the bottom. Its texture was somewhat doughy, yet with a steamed tenderness.
Inside each bun was a large pork meatball. While some restaurants add vegetables to their meatballs, these were all meat. Though simple, the pork was tender and moist with a salty, meaty, and delicious flavor.
While not a soup dumpling, each pork bun contained a small amount of broth. I enjoyed the taste of the broth, but it was very rich and oily.
To make matters worse, broth began leaking out of each bun onto the plate below, leaving an oily mess and soaking some of the wrappers in oil. But with the buns being so flavorful, I didn’t mind the issue.
Honey Walnut Shrimp
The final dish I ordered on my visit to China Mama was the Honey Walnut Shrimp ($17.99). This dish served as the perfect complement to the rich and oily pork buns.
While not the most affordable dish, I was surprised by how much shrimp there was on the plate. There must have been almost a pound of large, plump, and moist shrimp that had a salty, delicate flavor. On the outside, each piece of shrimp had a crispy texture that complemented its tender interior.
The shrimp was coated in a sticky and sweet sauce. Traditionally, this sauce is made with honey, mayonnaise, and condensed milk. I enjoyed how the sauce was not overly sweet or overpowering, allowing the fresh flavors of the shrimp to come through.
The final component of this dish was candied walnuts with sesame seeds. The walnuts were sweet, with a rich, nutty flavor. In addition to their flavor, the walnuts and sesame seeds provided a crunchy texture to the dish.
Out of all the restaurants I visited on my recent trip to Las Vegas, none compared to the level of service I received at China Mama. From the moment I arrived until I left, I received friendly, top-notch service.
During my entire visit, servers were constantly stopping by to check on my table, to take orders, refill drinks, or to ask if I needed anything else.
While I enjoyed the food, the service was better. While many restaurants primarily focus on their food and may overlook service, this was not the case at China Mama. Their level of service alone makes me want to return.
China Mama has been on my list of must-try restaurants in Las Vegas for some time now. I am excited that I was finally able to scratch it off my list.
There are many things I love about China Mama. The menu was extensive, the plates of food were fresh and flavorful, the staff was attentive, and the décor was beautiful.
So would I return to China Mama again? Yes, I would. But there are other Chinese restaurants I want to visit before returning to China Mama again.
While the food was fine, nothing particularly stood out to me. And I expected better value for the price, especially in Chinatown. Surprisingly, some prices on the menu were on par with or even higher than similar Chinese restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip.
So, I will return again in the future to China Mama. But in the meantime, I will explore Chinatown a little more.
- Beautiful décor
- Fantastic service from the moment I arrived until I left
- Freshly prepared plates
- Extensive menu featuring authentic Chinese dishes
- Often a wait for a table
- Prices are expensive for off-strip location
- Wrappers of the Wonton in Szechwan Pepper Sauce too soft
- Mama’s Special Pan Fried Pork Buns were oily
- Reservations limited to parties of 6 or more
4266 Spring Mountain Rd #106, Las Vegas, NV 89102
GPS Coordinates: 36.12735,-115.19717
Last Updated on January 23, 2024