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#351 JoshNE

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 07:46 PM

Flying back from a weekend conference in Vegas.  Only 2 notable dining experiences were a special of garlicy sausage at Bouchon, and a great meal at Lotus of Siam.  2 dishes that should not be missed are the raw prawns marinated in fish sauce and served with a tamarind paste, and the deep fried garlic shrimp served along with the fried shells.  Odd to say, but I could eat those fried shells all day.  They would make an amazing bar snack.  Interesting that I've never encountered them before.


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#352 DonRocks

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 10:22 PM

Flying back from a weekend conference in Vegas.  Only 2 notable dining experiences were a special of garlicy sausage at Bouchon, and a great meal at Lotus of Siam.  2 dishes that should not be missed are the raw prawns marinated in fish sauce and served with a tamarind paste, and the deep fried garlic shrimp served along with the fried shells.  Odd to say, but I could eat those fried shells all day.  They would make an amazing bar snack.  Interesting that I've never encountered them before.

 

Any respectable sushi joint will offer to serve the shells as a second course to the sashimi. :)


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#353 JoshNE

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 09:53 AM

Oh, I've had the heads served that way.  This was just the actual shell and tail (no heads), and had a different texture to it, probably due to them using some sort of salty/garlicy glaze.  Damn...now I'll be thinking about those things all day.



#354 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 11:19 PM

Dinner at Raku tonight. $100 omakase. Unbelievably sensational.

Each course was nailed to perfection and I'm completely overwhelmed. From the house made tofu special, to the perfect sashimi with fresh grated wasabi, to the grilled fish, to the signature lightly fried fish in special broth, to the charcoal grilled pork cheeks and the charcoal grilled Wagyu beef with wasabi, to the butter sautéed scallops, to the foie gras rice dish, to the perfect lightly airy cheese cake dessert -- every morsel was incredible. I can't remember the last multi-course feast I've had that was perfection end-to-end. And I would have gladly paid double for the quality and pure flavors and awesome textures I was bombarded with.

I don't think I'll ever set foot in Las Vegas again without trekking to Raku. What an amazing meal.
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Do you eat chicken with your fingers?
No, I eat my fingers separately.


#355 Mark Dedrick

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 12:18 PM

This has me very hungry. I have a reservation for Raku next Thursday night. 


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#356 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 05:17 PM

In honor and memory of Wu's Garden in Vienna, I tucked into a competent version of braised tofu at Mandalay Bay's Noodle Shop. This is a competent little pan Asian place that doesn't stand out from the celebrity name restaurants. The braised tofu wasn't as good as Wu's, but at least it offered a nice remembrance.

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Had dinner at Martorano's Italian Restaurant at the Rio. The linguini with fresh clams was extremely good. Martorano himself is from South Philly and his family apparently has some mob connections, but damn, that's some serious Italian food.

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Do you eat chicken with your fingers?
No, I eat my fingers separately.


#357 johnb

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 08:53 PM

Had dinner at Martorano's Italian Restaurant at the Rio. The linguini with fresh clams was extremely good. Martorano himself is from South Philly and his family apparently has some mob connections, but damn, that's some serious Italian food.
 

 

???

 

All the really good Italian restaurants (well, back in the day anyway), have/had mob connections.  Enjoy.


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#358 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 04:55 PM

???

 

All the really good Italian restaurants (well, back in the day anyway), have/had mob connections.  Enjoy.

Here's Steve Martorano and here's Johnny Martorano. Serious mob lineage....and seriously good food.


Do you eat chicken with your fingers?
No, I eat my fingers separately.


#359 Kibbee Nayee

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 10:47 AM

When Vincenzo's closed about 25 years ago, I thought I had tasted my last exquisite Italian seafood meal. Until last night. Bartolotta at the Wynn is over the top. The meal was end-to-end awesome, the seafood was perfect and the service and ambience were superb.

The highlight of the meal for me was the Lasagnette con Ragu di Crosteci...

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Best dish in Vegas? Maybe...!

Do you eat chicken with your fingers?
No, I eat my fingers separately.


#360 ad.mich

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 02:42 PM

NYT on off-strip dining today. I randomly had dinner at Carson Kitchen last weekend and can vouch for those tacos and the Duck ragout as well.  Also, Pizza Rock was a pleasant surprise.  Did not have high expectations for a place offering a ton of different doughs, cooking temps, and pizza styles, but I'll be damned if they didn't pull it off.  Nice lengthy beer list as well.  

 

Downtown Vegas is so, so weird.  


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#361 Mark Dedrick

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 12:49 PM

Just a few thoughts on my trip to Vegas this past weekend. 

 

Aria - I typically travel to Vegas about once a year with a group of friends, and we've stayed a number of places up and down the strip over the past decade plus. The Aria might be my favorite place that we've stayed. Location is fantastic (basically right in the middle of the strip, not isolated on one end or the other), our rooms were quite big and with solid views, service was pretty much universally great, and they use the fact that they're huge to provide all of the amenities you could want. They had a number of restaurants strewn throughout (we did not have a chance to sample more than one or two), and the casino floor itself was reasonably laid out. The pools were nice, and if you go the cabana route they are much nicer than at the Bellagio. If you're into sports betting I'd say that the sports book is fine, but definitely a step behind my favorite (the Bellagio, which remains my favorite place for any type of gambling in Vegas). I'd definitely stay here again.

 

Julian Serrano - When we arrived in Vegas we were absolutely starving, so a few of us decided to just grab something small in the hotel, and ended up at Julian Serrano. We ended up being more hungry than anticipated, and ordered a good chunk of the menu. I'd definitely recommend it, it is very solid Spanish food, the standout being the spicy veal and pork meatballs. 

 

Sage - The only other real restaurant at the Aria that we frequented (we did eat breakfast at the cafe, which was totally fine, and some lunches at our cabana at the pool, which were good for pool food), we got drinks and an appetizer here one night before dinner. I'd like to return and actually eat here. These were, by far, the best cocktails I've had in Las Vegas. 

 

Raku - Spectacular. Probably the best meal I've ever had in Vegas. We had a group of five, and had our own semi-private little room, which was a very nice touch. And we ordered a ton, from all over the menu. The fish dishes were incredible. And the poached egg with sea urchin and salmon roe was probably my favorite thing all night (although at least one of my friends found the texture a little off-putting). We ordered heavily off of the specials menu (which is why I can't necessarily relate everything we had), and relied on our server to recommend both what, and how much we should order. I'd strongly recommend this place. 

 

Scarpetta - We chose this place because it was located near our casino, next door in the Cosmo, and because one of my friends had enjoyed the branch in New York. It's really good Italian food. Service was a bit uneven. They left us alone for long periods of time (which cost them at least one round of cocktails at the beginning and one bottle of wine later in the meal). When our server was with us he was extremely opinionated on what exactly we should order. I can't say that he was wrong, as everything he recommended was fantastic. For a group of six we ordered two appetizers (Spanish Octopus and Squid and the Roasted Diver Scallops, which our waiter told us were the only starters worth ordering on the menu), three pastas (Duck and Foie Gras Ravioli, Short Rib and Bone Marrow Agnolotti, and Lamb Ragu Fettuccine) and we then all ordered our own entrees (everybody had either the halibut or the Colorado lamb loin). This was way too much food. From both a volume as well as a quality perspective we should have cut out the starters and just gone with pasta and entrees. All three pastas were fantastic. 

 

Heritage Steak - We do a steakhouse every time on this trip, initially because several of my friends were extremely unadventurous in their dining choices, but now out of tradition (I take care of all of the dining choices and reservations, and as a result I simply book us into whatever restaurants I want to eat at and drag them along with me). Heritage Steak is the new-ish Tom Colicchio affiliated steakhouse in the center of the Mirage. It's quite expensive, even by Vegas standards (particularly the wine list). And it's very good. I ended up splitting the 32 oz dry aged Cote de Boeuf, and it was a wonderful steak, cooked perfectly and extremely flavorful. Our experience did get off to a bit of a rocky start when the waiter oversold their Manhattan a little bit, only to have it not really deliver for most of us. One of my friends quite enjoyed it, but then again it was the second Manhattan he'd ever had. Most of us found it overly sweet, and with a smokiness that was a bit out of balance with the rest of the drink. Which apparently came from smoked cherry juice, which wasn't a component we expected. 

 

Anyhow, this is a good steakhouse. But Carnevino is much better, so if you're going to spend that amount of money you should go there. And if you do go to Heritage Steak don't order their Manhattan. 

 

Cocktails in the Cosmopolitan - The Cosmo sits adjacent to the Aria, and is a favorite of several of my friends. As a result, we ended up here a few times throughout the week. I've seen two bars in this casino named as great places to get cocktails in Vegas, the Chandelier Bar and the Vesper Bar. Both are very much a scene (they are, after all, located in the Cosmo), but the Vesper Bar is actually a serious bar that puts out great cocktails. Order without fear or concern here, they know what they're doing and they will make you a fantastic drink. It is possible to get a decent drink at the Chandelier Bar, but keep it simple. It's much more about the scene and the scenery here than it is the drinks. 


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#362 JimCo

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 10:25 PM

I'm headed to Vegas this weekend and will be near Lotus of Siam. I have never been there before, but have eaten at Bangkok Golden and Little Serow multiple times and always enjoy them. Is Lotus different/better enough to be worth the trip, or should I focus on trying some other things while I'm there? I know Lotus was an innovator, but also feel like we have a couple places locally now that may rival it for thai/Lao cuisine and there are a lot of other options in Las Vegas.

#363 JimCo

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Posted 14 October 2014 - 01:03 PM

Notes from my weekend trip to Vegas.

 

Carson's Kitchen -- Probably the highlight of the trip was this little place (Probably 30-40 seats) located just two blocks from Fremont Street downtown. The vibe is relaxed, with most of the seats being at two bars and three or four small tables. You can sit at the regular bar, or sit in front of the open kitchen. We started with the chicken skins with smoked honey and the bacon jam. The chicken skins were crispy and addictive. I waited about five minutes to try the bacon jam and still managed to burn the crap out of the roof of my mouth. It was still fantastic. Sweet and salty, crispy and creamy. Short rib sliders were flavored with root beer and onion strings. Three great tastes that taste great together. Rainbow cauliflower was crisped with garlic and lemon, and the baked mac and cheese was transfused with truffle-y goodness. I'd go back here in a second. I imagine it gets packed at night, but they are open from 11am on. My advice is to go during the afternoon when they were nearly empty.

 

The Griddle -- This is a breakfast spot at the new SLS Casino north of the strip. It's diner staples with a tex-mex twist. They serve French pressed coffee that is some of the best I've ever had. The average wait is about 20 minutes, but it's worth it. I didn't try the massive pancakes, but the egg dishes (huevos rancheros and a habanero hash) were very good.

 

Heritage Steak -- At the Mirage, this seems like one of the better steak places in Vegas. I've sat at the bar twice now and the staff are very friendly and happy to make recommendations. They have a great ribeye, but try the spicy onion rings. You can't eat just one. or two. or twelve.

 

Bazaar Meats -- This is Jose Andres new place also at the SLS Casino. It is an homage to meat, with a sales pitch about their wood-grilled ovens and the suckling pig and wagyu ribeyes. The server recommended their Lindsay Ranch ribeye (their most expensive), which he described as being 80% wagyu and 20% angus. I'm not sure how that works. Perhaps the cow's great grandmother had a fling with an angus bull? Whatever. I'll try it. We started with the classic beef tartare and the chicharrons. The chicharron is brought to the table in one massive piece that's about 18 inches long. It's then set on the table and the server begins smashing it with a mallet. Immediately, about 20% of ours went into the air and onto the floor. He politely picked it up and took it away. The serving is big enough that I couldn't finish it, even with the sacrifice to the floor. I noticed the table next to ours ordered it too, and similarly lost a hefty portion to the ground. Perhaps they should rethink the presentation. The tartare was the highlight, both creamy and spicy.

 

I was surprised to read that Andres is going to open a vegetable themed restaurant because that was the weak point here. The charred asparagus were all tiny and soggy. The spicy baby corn had a little kick, but seemed dry. It needed some more sauce. The ribeye was good, but nothing about it felt particularly special. They serve it carved into strips which also has the impact of making it cooler in temperature than I would like. The worst part is that a busboy delivered the meat and then no one checked us on through the rest of the night. Had to flag someone down for more water and find our waiter to get the check. These are nuisances at most places, but pretty inexcusable in a restaurant where dinner reaches into the hundreds per person (before wine). I doubt I'll be back anytime soon. One of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever seen, but the food merely reaches to above average and the service is disappointing.


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