JOY Asian Cuisine Restaurant located in the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is serving up some of the best comfort meals this side of Chinatown. From traditional time honored recipes of old-world China to modern Chinese fare favorites such as Dim Sum, Congee, and Wok Fried Noodles, this place adds the culinary gusto of Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai specialties as well. Now that’s a mouthful!
And accompanying this pan-Asian food fair is one of the most compact but efficient wine lists that I’ve come across. Asian food beverage-pairing has troubled its share of the wine drinkers in the past, with many of us opting out for a cold beer—which works for me and has always been a classic pairing. These days, with so many international wine varietals available, there are wonderful wine pairings for these Eastern cuisine textures and bold flavors. The wine menu here at JOY perfectly matches all of the delicious meals served.
Executive Chef Freddy Rieger, who has been in charge of places like the Trump Taj Mahal on the east coast and the Mirage Resort Hotel in Las Vegas, has been out here on the west coast for a few years now and has reign over all the restaurants at the Fantasy Resort Casino.
The versatile Chef Freddy, along with Chef de Cuisine, Monsieur Dayu Zhang, are currently impressing the entire Coachella Valley with all their Asian fare. Around the valley, you’ll not find anything comparable, for the menu is complete with appetizers, soups, noodles, vegetables, fish, and meats for all types of diners.
Like the food, the colors of the dining room are rich and vibrant. Red is the color throughout: elegant and romantic, the atmosphere is lively. It’s a treat to start off with the Crispy Salt and Pepper Calamari. Cooked perfectly, it’s crispy on the outside and wonderfully chewy on the inside. The batter’s a nice blend with a good hint of red pepper for the right amount of heat. Or, try the Szechuan Style Roasted Peanuts–spicy and savory treats, and the Char Grilled Beef Satay in peanut dipping sauce that will get your appetite going.
Other great starters can be found on the dim sum menu that includes theTraditional Pork Dumplings, that we call potstickers—steamed or fried, and, the Shrimp Hargow.
The Barbeque Pork Ribs may well be the go-to dish immediately. They will conjure up all memories of Chinese Christmas past and they are as tasty as one can imagine. You can’t go wrong with the Fresh Whole Fish either—steamed or fried, it’s an absolute delight of flavor and textures. And looking at a whole fish while stabbing into it brings everyone into the festivities!
For the fried rice fanatics, you will be over-joyed with the Shrimp Fried Rice with Pork, Pineapple, and Cilantro. The combination was magic; I’m still craving it! The Clay Pot Green Curry Chicken, cooked with green onion, ginger, and coconut—whose flavor intensifies in the broth—is not to be missed as well.
Dishes come out on long platters, sometimes clear glass, sometimes porcelain, and they’re mostly enough for four to share. This style of eating makes for a companionable evening.
As mentioned earlier, the smart and savvy wine list is a quick study and the wine-by-the-glass can complement each dish or the entire meal. For you California enthusiasts, I’d recommend the 2007 Mondavi Napa Fume Blanc at only $7. a glass. It can take you through the entire meal, as it is crisp, minerally, and wonderfully balanced with white fruit flavors and acidity to cleanse the palette.
Don’t be afraid to go outside of the usual wine envelope: there’s a tasty Alsace Riesling, Pierre Sparr Reserve, 2007, with all of your favorite Riesling flavors—it’s dry not sweet. This pairing is fanciful and a wonderful clash of Asian fusion flavors and the European grape. Also, look for the 2010 Acrobat Pinot Gris from Oregon for a similar energizing food pairing.
Further, how fun is it to embrace these Asian flavors and textures with a red wine. The 2008 Argyle Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon is a delicious choice at $7 a glass. This is a French-style Pinot with complex nuances of cola and dried cherry fruit along with a great balance of acidity. Other red wine treats at only $8 a class include the Penfolds 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon “Thomas Highland” from Australia, and the 2010 “Ruta 22” Malbec from Argentina.
The eastern sky is the limit: If you’d prefer a cold beer, my favorites are Tsingtao from China, Sapporo from Japan, and Singha Lager, Thailand, which are oh so tasty, refreshing, and can tame any hot spicy dish. It’s a bargain at $5 in an iced beer glass.
If you have a hankering for a little something sweet at the end of the meal, the Chocolate Cheesecake Beignets are wonderfully indulgent and satisfying: it’s a joyous way to finish the meal.
One more plus: the noise level. This is one of the few casino-based restaurants I’ve been to in months where it’s so quiet and romantic you can enjoy a great conversation with your partner or friends over dinner.
Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, 11:30 am to 11:00 pm. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84-245 Indio Springs Pkwy. Indio, Ca. 800.827.2946.
Rick conducts and entertains at various wine events. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org