LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Wo Fat Chinese restaurant on Desert Inn and Sandhill roads is a Dirty Dining repeat offender.
Despite the sign proclaiming it's the best Asian food in the USA that's been hanging in the window since we were first there in 2016, Wo Fat is back for a second helping of Dirty Dining with a 35-demerit “C” grade on its Feb. 11 inspection.
When we arrived to ask questions, there was no manager or person in charge on the premises, which is a health code violation.
Employees called Manager Angela Dong, who we spoke to the first time Wo Fat was on Dirty Dining.
This time, she declined an on-camera interview but agreed to answer questions over the phone.
Violations included employees preparing snap peas at a dining room table.
Cooked beef, breaded chicken and pork wontons were sitting at room temperature and had to be thrown out.
And inspectors say an excessively large amount of food items were left to cool improperly at room temperature without any active monitoring.
Dong says they check food temperatures every day, but when Darcy Spears asked what happened on inspection day, she answered that she did not know.
Other violations included a food handler who grabbed raw hamburger patties and put them on the grill with bare hands, then touched food preparation equipment with no handwashing.
Foods were left uncovered and subject to contamination and cutting boards were stained, deeply grooved and no longer cleanable.
Dong says she believes everything about the way they handle food is correct, but inspectors say otherwise.
Raw beef was improperly thawing in standing water, food was stored in reused plastic grocery bags, bulk container lids were broken and chipped posing a potential contamination hazard, and there was mold in the ice machine chute.
Dong disputed that, calling it "just discoloration."
Inspectors also say the walk-in freezer was excessively cluttered and disorganized with food stored on the floor, and walls, floors and the floor sink were excessively dirty.
Dong said they always clean but when asked why the kitchen was dirty to the point that inspectors say it needed a deep clean before it would be allowed to re-open, she spoke of a remodel from a couple of months ago when Wo Fat rebranded itself as a Hawaiian BBQ.
"What does that have to do with the health inspection in the kitchen?" Spears asked.
Without further explanation, Dong said she's sorry it happened and is confident they'll get their "A" grade back upon re-inspection.
For the imminent health hazard closure, we head to Mesquite where Thai House on Sandhill Boulevard was shut down on Feb. 10 for a multi-generational cockroach infestation.
It also got 36 demerits.
Inspectors saw live roaches throughout the kitchen.
In the fridge, inspectors found expired dumpling wraps dating back to January and milk that had expired on Dec. 8, 2020. Thai House Owner Osara "Lisa" Rice said the milk belonged to an employee.
Thai House was also storing large bulk bins of sugar outside the kitchen’s back door.
And there was a significant cleaning failure in the kitchen as evidenced by old dry food in the oven, heavy, greasy build-up on equipment and floors and lots of food stuck in the floor sink.
Rice says since the inspection she has removed everything from her restaurant to do a deep clean and she plans to stay closed for three months in order to do a complete overhaul.
She says her head chef, employees and pest control company let her down. She fired several staff members, including the head chef who was also responsible for cleaning the kitchen, and hired a new pest control company.
However, Wednesday morning, she saw two roaches running around in the kitchen so more pest control is still needed.
During her self-imposed three-month closure, she plans to pull up and replace the flooring, change the ceiling, roof and air conditioning units and pull out all the furniture.
"It’s bad to have roaches in kitchen. That’s no good," said Rice. "I've only been open for a year and a half and hung on through the COVID closure."
"I am really disappointed by my former pest control company and they wouldn't talk to me about their failure," she said. "All the fixes will cost upwards of $150,000—not to mention the loss of produce and other fresh food as well as income from the restaurant."
"When I think about it," said Rice, "it makes me sick to my stomach. We’re all adults and should know what’s right and wrong."
She says she counted on employees and paid for the head chef’s food safety certification and he let things go.
"He must’ve seen it but he never said anything and it really, really hurt me. He was able to clean everything while the health inspector was still there so I wonder why he didn’t do it every day."
Rice has been deep cleaning herself for the last 10 days.
"I’m 70 years old. I don’t want to be a failure. I’m keeping this restaurant and am determined to fix it. Everything will be under control."
Click here to see the health report for Wo Fat Chinese.
Click here to see the health report for Thai House.