Had dinner at Chada Thai last Saturday. The service was attentive and wonderful - the wait staff is very knowledgeable and happy to steer us to the right dishes (and wines for other tables). The food was lovely too (though I'm discovering that I just don't like southern Thai / Malay food as much as I like Northern Thai / Lao food) and love the smaller portions that lets us try more dishes. The costs are quite reasonable, if not quite *cheap* by strip mall ethnic food standards. It rather sad to see so few customers during a prime time on Saturday night though - frankly, if you have the chance to go here, go now because I'm a bit worried about the long term financial health of the establishment.
We also tried China Mama in the same strip mall. The cumin lamb was very tasty, tender with nice flavors from chile/sansho/cumin. The soup dumplings were well made but the filling tasted like it spent too much time in the freezer (the restaurant was only 10% filled on a Saturday night). The fried buns had tasty fillings and a decent crust, but it wasn't the soupy and delicious Shanghai style shengjianbao that I was expecting - it was okay but I would not order again.
I really hope Vegas just has a different busy restaurant time than other cities (I believe Chada Thai is open until 3 AM everyday), because it's sad to see good restaurants stand so empty during Saturday evening.
Agreed on all counts. Chada Thai has excellent food, warm and attentive service, and a much sleeker atmosphere than LOS, so it is sad to see it so sparsely populated during primetime weekend hours. Our server said it does get busier later in the night, though, and we definitely appreciate the fact that we could come back late night to grab snacks (next time!). The most memorable dishes were the mushroom and brussel sprouts appetizer (stir-fried in a lightly sweet soy sauce and topped with slices of fried lotus root) and the penang curry (duck, with crispy skin. Sooooo good, but the best part was the sauce, so we would be open to trying the curry with other meats). I could eat a LOT of these dishes. The tangy, herbaceous spring rolls also popped unexpectedly with bright, clean flavors. The chili sea bass, while good (and lovely pieces of fish), wasn't to our taste (we are more glaze or sauce people, apparently, and didn't love the chunky chili paste, even though it was nicely deep and smoky) and the chinese broccoli with crispy pork belly was a good (perfectly tender-crisp greens) version of an ordinary dish.
The lines at Monta Ramen were impressive and promising but we opted for the bar at Abriya Raku (be there a few minutes before opening; they have 5 seats at the bar with the chefs and 4 more at the other bar; they basically don't take other walk-ins unless they have a cancellation). It was my first time having Robata-style grilling and, while I really enjoyed everything we tried (tomatoes, enokis, pork cheek, chicken with chicken skin, duck, beef with garlic, and foie gras, with the last two being the best - if you really like the sauce and glazes, get a bowl of rice to sop up all the fatty, tasty goodness), the house-made tofu is the absolutely the star attraction. We got a half order of the fresh and tofu of the agedashi and we should have ordered whole rounds of both (for 2 people!). Even my soft-tofu-hating husband loved it! The agedashi is an excellent version of the dish but the fresh tofu is outstandingly tender, mild, clean, and almost sweet, like the best, freshest ricotta or marscapone. We also had the fried chicken (juicy and crispy, as advertised) and shrimp (best value on the menu, though very plain) and some of the fishy specials (all good, though I don't remember the names). Everyone was very kind and the dark paneling and intimate atmosphere (they have some cozy, perhaps ex-viewing booths in the back) are nice-date appropriate.
If you're on this eating itinerary, you probably have a car, so if you have some time during the day pop over and take the 13-mile scenic drive at Red Rock Canyon. It's only a short drive out (20-30 mins from the Strip) from the city and you can use your national park passes to get in. The visitor's center has some of the best exhibits I've ever seen at a park and the scenery along the drive is fantastic. There are lots of places to get out and take short or longer hikes and you might even see some burros and mustangs.
The Hoover Dam is also a great short trip from the city (40ish minutes out). We did the scenic Lake Mead lookout, the walk across the Tillman Bridge, and took some fun photos at the dam itself. Most of the parking on the AZ side (Everything past the first pay lot) is free and the walk is very short (the furthest parking lot is still only about a half mile walk, albeit up a hill) with some good views.
If you're driving back to Los Angeles, avoid driving on early Sunday night if possible. We thought the 11+! hours of hell we spent on the road was due to Thanksgiving travelers, but apparently it's a lot like that most weekends. Leave early or stay late, or be prepared to lose all your vacation bliss on the road