Ever since Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurant supplemented their list with a selection of wines from Elvis Presley Wine Cellars, its growing wine list has been the buzz around the Vegas Valley. One of the reasons is that most Americans never associate wine with Asian cuisine, something that has been changing in recent years, here in America and around the world.
“Certain beer and Thai liquors are probably better matches to all dishes, universally,” says Wong, general manager of Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurant. “However the trend now in Asia, especially by the Mainland Chinese and in some urban areas in Thailand, is clearly to make wine as much a part of all Asian culinary experiences as any other beverage.”
Early on last year, Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurant included wines from the William Hill Estate Winery in support of local music programs and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. But this year, the restaurants’ management is becoming more inventive with their wine selection. In addition to market research, they’ve started tasting wines to find the best matches, looking for bolder flavors that match very well with Thai and Chinese cuisine.
“When we first started choosing wines, we asked ourselves what might be fun for visiting Asians, especially Thai people to try,” says Wong. “The Elvis wines fit on every count. When you say Las Vegas, Elvis, Thai food, and wine, people become genuinely excited. But then, of course, it has to taste good and complement the food.”
The wine selection at Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurant from Elvis Presley includes: Jailhouse Rock (a richly flavored Merlot), The King Of Rock & Roll (a flashy Cabernet Sauvignon), Blue Suede (a vibrant Chardonnay), and Blue Hawaii (a tropical Riesling). The Riesling, we’ve noticed, works especially well with spicier richer foods.
“The wines we serve are mostly harvested and bottled from Southern California, but I’ve been researching wineries from all over the world, especially Germany” he said. “Naturally, people generally avoid tannic wines with spicy foods, but not all Thai foods are spicy. Red wines will complement richer, heavier dishes. One of our favorites from Elvis Presley Wine Cellars is Blue Hawaii, which is a sweeter tropical Riesling. However, a Chardonnay will complement well with some dishes.”
How Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurant started working to introduce new and better wines.
A few years ago, we didn’t think too much about wine, since the best pairing of Thai food tend to be beer. But over the last few years, we started watching culinary trends in China and Thailand. We noted that while the restaurant is well-regarded for serving authentic Thai and Chinese food, both countries are trying to find ways to reinvigorate, and elevate the cuisines as they continue to gain popularity.
“We will always preserve our recipes because they represent some of the most authentic dishes in the world,” said Wong. “But there are other ways to preserve this tradition while adding accompaniments that inspire people to try new things too like free Wi-Fi and becoming a Certified Angus beef Licensee. Fine Wines is also one of them.”
Adding the selection of Elvis Presley wines is part of Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurants’ effort to find the best wine matches for Thai cuisine, apart from Beer, after being inspired by the increasing interest in European wines by the Chinese. In addition to encouraging an interest in wine, China is also home to several vineyards that produce Chardonnay and Riesling wines in the Sichuan region.
Since the addition of Elvis Wines, Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurant has been written up by hundreds of publications, some expected and others that are very surprising, from Las Vegas Weekly, Las Vegas Review-Journal, AsianWeek, Asian American Press, to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Founded in 1974, Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurant is the oldest and most authentic Chinese and Thai restaurant in Las Vegas. We’re open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The average entree is around $10 and most patrons order family style.