Las Vegas Sun

March 22, 2018

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Part 1: Sampling Las Vegas’ cultural diversity through music, art and food


Steve Marcus

Wendy Dwyer of the Las Vegas KaminarI Taiko performs during the 18th Chinese New Year Celebration & Festival at the Chinatown Mall Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. The festival was organized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Chinatown Mall.

With more than 200 languages spoken and almost 100 countries represented, Southern Nevada has become a melting pot as diverse and colorful as the Strip skyline at night.

Twenty-two percent of our almost 2 million residents hail from a foreign country, and hundreds of cultures are represented here.

The cultural mosaic is celebrated with dozens of local festivals that showcase the traditions, customs and cuisine of diverse communities from Southern Nevada and around the world. Here’s a taste of what our community offers ...


Must-try meal: Gulaschsuppe (goulash soup with diced potatoes)

Where to get it:

• Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas, 4510 Paradise Road, Las Vegas

• Café Berlin, 4850 W. Sunset Road, Suite 100-105, Las Vegas

• Bavarian Castle, 10890 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 180, Henderson

How to make it:

Ingredients: ½ lb beef shoulder; 2 large onions, chopped; 1 clove garlic, minced; 3 tbsp oil; 2 tsp tomato paste; 2 tbsp paprika; 2¼ qts beef consommé; ½ tsp dried marjoram; 1 tsp grated lemon rind; ½ tsp ground cumin; 2 waxy potatoes, peeled and diced finely; ½ red pepper, diced finely; 1 tsp butter; 1 tsp; flour; Salt; Freshly ground pepper

Preparation: Wash beef, dab dry and cut into small cubes. Heat oil in a large saucepan and sautee onions and garlic until golden. Add beef and cook until meat juices have reduced. Mix in tomato paste and paprika and cook briefly.

Add the beef consommé, marjoram, lemon rind and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 75 minutes or until meat is tender.

Add potatoes and red pepper and simmer for 20 minutes.

Mix butter and flour into a small ball and knead well. Add to the soup in small pieces to thicken broth.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve with white or rye bread.

Source: Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas

European settlers came to Southern Nevada in the 16th century. Spanish explorers came first, followed in the 1800s by French and British immigrants who set up ranches and farms. Union Pacific Railroad’s expansion into the West in the early 1900s brought many more Europeans, including a good number of Germans.

Some found success up north brewing beer in Carson City and Virginia City, but more were drawn to mining and cattle ranching down south. German engineers and entrepreneurs Philipp Deidesheimer, Herman Schussler and Adolph Sutro, for example, were instrumental in the history of the Comstock Mining District, home to the first major discovery of silver ore in the United States and the heart of Nevada’s mining boom.

Clark County’s German population spiked again after World Wars I and II because of American servicemen who married German women. Others came seeking opportunity in the burgeoning hospitality industry.

Many of the immigrants guarded their heritage, anglicizing their names and working to assimilate quickly because of the anti-German sentiment of the era. Still, many found business and political success here.

Las Vegas’ first mayor, Peter Buol, was the son of German-Swiss immigrants. German-born Frank and Martha Matzdorf, who arrived in Las Vegas in 1905 in a mule-drawn cart, opened the city’s first hotel and restaurant. Banker Cyril S. Wengert, the son of a German immigrant, served as manager of Southern Nevada utility companies and helped oversee much of Las Vegas’ early development.

More recently, Germans Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn became icons of Las Vegas entertainment, while German-born Pat Mulroy, former head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, has been instrumental in managing the city’s water supply.

Today, the city remains a draw for Germans working in the hospitality industry, and Clark County’s German community is thought to exceed 45,000.

Germanicvm XL 2014

Created by German Honorary Consul to Nevada Andreas R. Adrian, this four-day festival — the first of its kind in Las Vegas ­— will feature a series of concerts at the House of Blues showcasing German musicians and composers. The event also includes afterparties, meet-and-greets, celebrity appearances and guest speakers.

The goal is to spark renewed interest in German culture. Organizers also hope to reap economic benefits by promoting German trade and tourism.

Proceeds will go toward establishing a permanent location for Las Vegas’ first German Saturday school, launched last year with the German-American School Association of Southern California. The school offers German language and cultural classes for children as young as 3 and adults.

Sept. 3-7. Most of the concerts start at 8 p.m. A musical grand finale will begin at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 and a closing brunch at 10 a.m. Sept. 7.

Admission: $35-$85 for concert tickets.

Also: Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest from Sept. 13 through October; Las Vegas Oktoberfest on Oct. 5 downtown.


Must-try meal: Traditional Mexican Enchiladas

Ingredients: 6 dried California chile peppers; 1 clove garlic; 1 tsp salt; 1 cup water; 1 cup vegetable oil; 12 6-inch corn tortillas; 3 cups queso fresco, crumbled; 1 cup sour cream; 2 cups leaf lettuce, shredded; 1/2 cup green onions, chopped; 1 avocado, sliced

Preparation: Snap the tops off the dried chiles and remove the seeds. In a small bowl, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes. Pour the chiles and water into a food processor with the garlic and salt and blend until smooth. Press sauce through a strainer and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a separate skillet, heat the chile sauce over medium heat. Fry each tortilla for about 5 seconds per side, then soak it immediately in the chile sauce until just covered. Set aside.

Take one tortilla at a time and fill with 2 tablespoons of queso fresco and 1 teaspoon of onion. Roll up tortilla with filling and place seam side down on a plate.

Garnish two or three enchiladas with queso fresco, sour cream, a small handful of lettuce, three avocado slices and green onions and serve.

Source: Rosita's Mexican Food Kitchen

Hispanics have played a formative role in Las Vegas’ history. Mexican migrants helped lay down track for the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. Mexican scout Raphael Rivera, for whom many Las Vegas landmarks are named, was the first non-Native American to set foot in the Las Vegas Valley.

Driven north by the Mexican Revolution, Mexican migrants continued to put down roots in Las Vegas. The city’s first recorded Mexican Independence Day was held in 1914 at the Union Hotel and drew attendees from across the region.

Even so, Southern Nevada’s Hispanic population remained relatively small until the 1980s, when the collapse of the Mexican economy drove immigrants to Nevada en masse, pushing Clark County’s Hispanic population from 350 in 1950 to 35,000 in 1980. Conflict in El Salvador and Cuba grew the communities further.

Today, Hispanics make up 29 percent of Clark County’s population. While the majority hail from Mexico (21.7 percent), Cuba (1.1 percent) and Puerto Rico (0.9 percent), cultures from 21 Hispanic and Latin American countries are represented.

Fiesta Las Vegas

Fiesta Las Vegas celebrates the 21 countries represented by Clark County’s Hispanic community.

The gathering began in 2011 as a platform for each community to share its customs and as a way to enhance cultural recognition in the valley.

This year’s event, which is expected to draw more than 20,000 people, expands to two days and includes a parade and a festival featuring live music, dancing, folklore, cultural booths, children’s activities, a beauty pageant and lots of food.

Parade: 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 13, Fourth Street between Gass and Stewart avenues, Las Vegas.

Festival: noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 14, Clark County Amphitheater, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway, Las Vegas.

Also: Hispanic International Day Parade on Oct. 4 in Henderson; Celebrando Hispanic Festival.


Must-try meal: Banh mi with Kkakdugi and grilled lemongrass pork

Where to get it:

• Dakao Sandwiches, 5700 W. Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas

• Viet Bistro, 7175 W. Lake Mead Blvd., Las Vegas

• Island Style, 3909 W. Sahara Ave, Las Vegas

• Mr. Tofu, 3889 W. Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas

How to make it:

Kkakdugi ingredients: 4 lbs Korean radish or daikon, peeled and cut into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes; 2 tbsp salt; 2 tbsp sugar; 1/4 cup fish sauce; 1 cup hot pepper flakes; 4 green onion stalks, chopped; 2 tbsp minced garlic; 1 tsp ginger

Preparation: Place radishes in a large bowl. Add the salt and sugar and mix well. (If you like your kkakdugi sweeter, add 1 or more extra teaspoons of sugar.) Set aside for 30 minutes. Drain the juice from the radishes into a small bowl. Add minced garlic, ginger, green onions, fish sauce, hot pepper flakes and 1/3 cup of the juice from the radishes. (Use 1/2 cup hot pepper flakes for a mild version, more for a spicier version. For a vegetarian version, replace fish sauce with soy sauce.)

Mix well until seasonings coat the radish cubes evenly. Put the kkakdugi into a glass jar and press down on the top to remove any air from between the radish cubes. Eat immediately and store in the refrigerator, or let it ferment by keeping it outside of the refrigerator for a few days. When little bubbles appear on top of the kkakdugi and it smells strong and sour, refrigerate it.

Grilled lemongrass pork ingredients: 1 lb boneless country-style pork ribs cut into 1 inch slabs; 3 stalks of lemongrass, ends trimmed, finely minced; 3-5 cloves garlic, minced; 3 Thai chiles, minced; 1 inch knob of ginger, minced; 3 oz fish sauce; 1 tbsp sugar

Preparation: Smash the ginger, garlic and chiles in a mortar to form a paste. Put it in a bowl and combine with the lemongrass and sugar. Add fish sauce and mix lightly until a thick sludge develops. Slather it over the pork and marinate for a few hours.

Prepare hot coals on one side of a grill, and grill the pork. If you’re using the ribs, alternate between the hot and cool sides of the grill, and give them time — about 30-40 minutes. If you’re using a leaner cut such as a tenderloin or shoulder steaks, reduce the time.

For Bánh mì, toast a Vietnamese or French roll. Slice the pork thinly and place inside the bun. Top with cucumber, cilantro and Thai basil and a splash of Sriracha hot sauce. Top with the homemade kkakdugi.

Source: DiVine Café

At least seven countries are represented by Las Vegas’ East Asian population. The Chinese community is by far the largest, with more than 24,600 residents in Clark County, followed by Koreans (12,300) and Japanese (9,000).

The first wave of Chinese migrants arrived in Nevada in the second half of the 19th century during construction of the transcontinental railroad. The workers also helped build towns across the state before moving en masse to California.

The population didn’t grow again until after 1965, when large numbers of Chinese immigrants came to Las Vegas to find food service and dealer jobs in the burgeoning casino industry. By the 1990s, the Chinese population had grown by almost 250 percent, to 15,000. Chinatown in Spring Valley debuted in 1995 to cater both to Chinese tourists and locals.

Today, Las Vegas’ Chinese community has Chinese-language newspapers, schools and chambers of commerce, the latter of which tout a membership of almost 400.

Asian Heritage Celebration

Previously known as the Asian Harvest Moon Festival for the autumnal equinox observed in China and Vietnam, the event has expanded to represent all Asian heritage. The festival will feature Japanese taiko drumming, Chinese lion dances, a children’s lantern parade, karaoke and origami.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 27

Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas, 702-822-7700

Also: Chinese New Year Celebration at Chinatown Plaza in February 2015.


Must-try meal: Stewed collard greens

Where to get it:

• M&M Soul Food Cafe, 3923 W. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas

• Soul Food Cafe, 7320 S. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 112, Las Vegas

How to make it:

Ingredients: 1 bunch collard greens, rinsed, trimmed and chopped; 2 smoked ham hocks; 24 oz chicken stock; 21 oz water; 1 tab white vinegar; Salt; Pepper

Preparation: Place collard greens and ham hocks in a large pot. Mix in chicken broth, water, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for an hour.

Source: Divine Café

Blacks have played an integral role in the history of Las Vegas. New Yorker John Howell bought the 320-acre Spring Rancho farm in 1872 and was the region’s first black rancher and landowner.

Though modest in size, Las Vegas’ black community quickly established itself, setting up businesses, churches and chapters of the NAACP and Colored Citizens Protective Association. Both were instrumental in getting black workers jobs building the Hoover Dam.

Population numbers spiked during the Great Migration from the Deep South. The 1943 opening of the Basic Magnesium Inc. plant in Henderson drew African-Americans from around the country in search of work.

By 1955, Las Vegas’ black community quintupled to more than 15,000, 10 percent of the city’s population. Las Vegas welcomed its first black doctor and introduced a black society newspaper column.

But the city was divided. Henderson had several black neighborhoods, including the segregated Carver Park. Much of Las Vegas’ black community was forced to live in the segregated Westside, across the railroad tracks from Fremont Street.

While black workers helped make Las Vegas’ new resorts run, they remained invisible to guests, relegated to back-of-the-house jobs and forbidden to own or sell property beyond the Westside. Blacks weren’t allowed to gamble, attend shows or stay in the hotels where they worked. Even performers Dinah Washington, Lena Horne and Sammy Davis Jr. were made to “leave through the kitchen with the garbage,” Davis once said.

That began to change in May 1955, when Las Vegas’ first integrated resort, the Moulin Rouge, co-owned by boxer Joe Louis, opened. Though the hotel-casino lasted less than a year, it provided blacks with higher-profile, better-paying jobs and a space for performers to present their shows late at night.

By early 1960, African-American entertainers began refusing to perform at segregated venues, and Dr. James McMillan, president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP, threatened a citywide protest unless officials desegregated the city. On March 25, 1960, a day before the planned protest, NAACP members met with city officials in a meeting mediated by Las Vegas Sun founder Hank Greenspun and hashed out an agreement abolishing Jim Crow restrictions and desegregating the Strip.

Still, a decade passed before the complete desegregation of housing, schools and jobs.

Taste and Sounds of Soul Festival

In its 13th year, the soul festival is one of the state’s longest-running celebrations of Black History Month and Nevada’s African-American community. Traditionally held on Fremont Street, it draws thousands of locals and tourists.

February 2015, dates TBD


Must-try meal: Barbecue Huli Huli chicken

Where to get it:

• Braddah’s Island Style, 2330 S. Rainbow Blvd., Las Vegas

• Poke Express, 9400 S. Eastern Ave., Las Vegas, or 655 W. Craig Road, North Las Vegas

How to make it:

Ingredients: 1 cup packed brown sugar; 3/4 cup ketchup; 3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce; 1/3 cup sherry or chicken broth; 2 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced; 1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced; 24 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 5 lbs)

Preparation: Mix sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, sherry, ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Reserve 1 1/3 cups for basting; cover and refrigerate. Divide remaining marinade between two large resealable plastic bags. Add 12 chicken thighs to each; seal and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.

Drain and discard marinade from chicken. Coat your barbecue with oil and grill the chicken, covered, over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Baste occasionally with reserved marinade during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Serve with rice or macaroni salad.

Source: Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club

They don’t call Las Vegas “the Ninth Island” for nothing. Close to 14,000 Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders call Southern Nevada home. Hawaii itself has fewer than 1.3 million residents.

What’s the draw? The two locales have more in common than their terrains might let on. With tourism the top industry in Hawaii, Las Vegas is a natural fit for Islanders already well-versed in hospitality.

Casino mogul Sam Boyd first reached out to the Hawaiian market in 1975 when he opened the California, tapping into Islanders’ fondness for gambling, which was legal in Oahu before World War II. Inexpensive flights and the flavors of home kept Hawaiian tourists flocking to town for years. Many decided to stay when Hawaii’s economy sputtered in the 1990s while Las Vegas’ thrived.

Today, Islander culture is becoming increasingly synonymous with the city, with almost 50 restaurants across the valley run by or catering to Hawaiians. Hawaiian retail shops such as Aloha2Go and ABC Stores abound, while cultural organizations and events such as the Ewalu Club at UNLV, the Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club and the Pure Aloha Festival, set for Oct. 3-5 at the Rio, help preserve and promote Hawaiian heritage.

Prince Jonah Kuhio Ho’olaule’a Pacific Islands Festival

The Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year with the Kuhio Ho’olaule’a, which celebrates the history and culture of Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

This year’s theme is “9th Island Hawaiian Cowboy Paniolo Roundup,” a celebration of Hawaiian cowboy culture. It will include a cultural village with hulu feather crafts, Hawaiian quilt making, horticulture and lei making. The event also offers live entertainment, crafts, a petting zoo, a job fair and a selection of Polynesian food. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 13; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 14.

Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St., Henderson.

Admission: Free

Also: Kumu Kahi Ukulele and Hula Festival was Aug. 8-9 at Sam’s Town; Las Vegas Pure Aloha Festival, Oct. 3–5 at the Rio.

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