Chinese-Nicaraguan entrepreneur brings new flavors to East Las Vegas

Chinese-Nicaraguan entrepreneur brings new flavors to East Las Vegas

Comidazo Kitchen partners Armando Tam and Jackie Lizaola with owners of La Puerta Negra bar Veronica and Yair Tabares on the opening night of their partnership. People can expect to find televisions playing soccer games, latin music, beer, palomas, and margaritas at the bar, and a unique combination of flavors served by Comidazo Kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Lizaola)

By Jannelle Calderón

June 14, 2024

What do fried rice, burgers, and ceviche have in common? They are all served as part of Comidazo Kitchen’s Asian-Latino concept inside La Puerta Negra, a neighborhood bar in East Las Vegas, in a new partnership unveiled Wednesday. 

The collaboration can be described as a virtual restaurant or ghost kitchen, where Comidazo Kitchen operates out of La Puerta Negra and has five food concepts — Barrio Chino, which combines Chinese and Latin flavors; Pawsone, its Mexican inspired side; Dela, which brings Caribbean flavors; Paladar, which is Cuban inspired food; and Slammin Greelchees, a grilled cheese with a choice of Lechon, al pastor, or jerk chicken. 

“We started as a restaurant but we turned our focus to the bar and got very busy. We met Armando and we are doing a fusion in the food that he brought and we love it,” said Yair Tabares, who owns La Puerta Negra with his wife. “The food is also going to be a good way to attract new types of clientele that do not come for the bar experience.”

Armando Tam, creator of Comidazo Kitchen, is all about collaboration. While not a chef by trade, Tam said his Chinese-Nicaraguan background and love for food pushed his passion for cooking. Many of his plates are inspired by his life experiences, he said. 

“Cooking is storytelling, and it’s sharing someone’s journey … So I’ll take a lechón, a Cuban lechón, and I’ll do it with what I grew up with,” Tam said. “When I first came to this country, I remember the chow ramen packets, the cheap ones — Nos criamos pobres, pero con cultura rica [we were raised poor but with a rich culture] — And so I’ll do a Cuban chow ramen, un arroz frito [fried rice] with jerk chicken.”

By day, Tam is the senior vice president of digital marketing and network management for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), and previously was a real estate investor, and owned and operated a real estate brokerage company. Tam started Comidazo before the pandemic, and it began as a digital marketing company holding and catering events with hundreds of people. He said the pandemic made him decide to shift into the virtual restaurant space. 

“What you don’t realize is that ghost kitchens allow you to start a business at a much lower starting point [cost-wise],” Tam said. “And that’s why every immigrant that comes to this country, not because they didn’t like their country, but for a better quality of life, more opportunities. And entrepreneurship is in our DNA. So ghost kitchens, to me, provide opportunities for people from the back of the house to be in the front of the house.”

According to the National Restaurant Association, as of 2022, 61% of chefs and 60% of cooks nationwide are Hispanic, Black, Asian or two or more races.

Comidazo Kitchen can also be found at Adeline Food Hall in Oakland, California. 

La Puerta Negra is located at 3935 E. Charleston Blvd, in Las Vegas. People can expect to find televisions playing soccer games, latin music, beer, palomas, and margaritas at the bar, and a unique combination of flavors served by Comidazo Kitchen. 

Comidazo Kitchen will soon be available in food delivery apps in Las Vegas, too.   

“This partnership means more than my recipes out here. The recipes I can share on social [media], but the partnership and collaboration — that means a lot more when it’s successful,” Tam said, adding that the collaboration is part of a movement to change the narrative and highlight Las Vegas’ cultures. 

 

  • Jannelle Calderón

    Jannelle Calderón is a bilingual politics and community multimedia reporter with a passion to highlight the human side to policy and issues as well as showcasing the vibrant cultures found in Southern Nevada. She previously reported for The Nevada Independent and graduated from UNLV.

CATEGORIES: LOCAL BUSINESS
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