What: The Bi Bim Bap
Where: JOY Asian Cuisine at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio
How much: $17
Contact: 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com/prod/dining/dining.php#joy
Why: So many flavors and sensations!
Once upon a time, casino food was looked down upon. I grew up in Reno, Nev., home of the Club Cal Neva, which for years advertised a 99-cent ham-and-eggs meal on billboards far and wide. And, yes, you get what you pay for.
Of course, things have changed since those days, when casinos were pretty much limited to Nevada and Atlantic City. Today, casinos can be found most anywhere—and they’ve upped their game, no pun intended, when it comes to food. In fact, some of the world’s best restaurants are found in casinos. The same can be said about the Coachella Valley: I’ve recently discovered that one of the area’s best Asian restaurants can be found inside of Fantasy Springs.
JOY offers a pan-Asian menu, and on my inaugural visit there, I was happy with every dish that I tried. The kimchi? Amazing. The war wonton soup? Packed with flavor. And the bi bim bap? One of the best preparations of this dish I’ve ever had.
What made the JOY version of this Korean classic so gosh-darned yummy? Well, there is the well-seasoned beef. (My only nitpick is that I wanted a little more.) Then there are the tasty mushrooms and vegetables. And last but oh-so-certainly not least is the rice, oh that rice—pillow-soft in some parts, and delightfully crispy along the sides of the blazing-hot bowl.
Regular readers know I am not thrilled with the Asian food on offer here in the Coachella Valley. Well, I am feeling a little better about things after the first of what will most likely be many visits to JOY. My mouth waters at the mere thought of that bi bim bap; it was truly excellent.