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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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Las Vegas was its normal shit show.  We were there for less than 24 hours and that was more than enough. SLS Hotel:  If cell block chic is your style you might appreciate SLS.  Our hotel room hav

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 fre

The fragrant onions came from shoe string onions and they were good.  The Our Burger (@ Wahlburger) was actually pretty average - 1/3 lb cooked to order, topped with "government" cheese (i.e., America

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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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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.

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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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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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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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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...!

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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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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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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.

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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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Hubby and I are heading to Vegas in January and could use some recommendations.  Short story: I'm going for a conference, but hubby has never been AND is turning 40 in January, so he's coming with me...but what he doesn't know is that a bunch of our friends are going to be there as well.  Hooray for surprises!

We have a beer-centric pub crawl scheduled for Saturday during the day, so I'd love to get suggestions for a good, casual dinner place where we could show up without a reservation (we are staying at the Flamingo, and some friends are staying at the Palazzo).  Also, I'd like to do a nicer dinner for everyone on Sunday night - Jason's favorite type of food is Mexican, so is there a more upscale place where we could get good food AND good cocktails?  Our group should be about 7 people.

Finally, does anyone have a favorite brunch/breakfast place?

Thanks for any suggestions!  Trying to keep the celebratory vibe going for the whole weekend.  :D

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Border Grill for Mexican is very good - original location in Mandalay Bay.  They also now have a location in the Forum Shops at Caesars.  It you don't make it there for dinner they also have a great brunch on the weekends (unlimited small plates for $35 and bottomless mimosas for $10).

Public House (gastropub) at the Venetian Canal Shoppes may be a good casual dinner spot - not sure if you will be able to just show up to though.

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Recently returned from a week in Vegas (combo business + pleasure).  Not too many notable meals, as we were playing most things by ear AND my conference provided a fair amount of food.  But, I did have a solo dinner at Giada (in the Cromwell hotel), and it was lovely.  I had the burrata with balsamic salt (so smooth and creamy), the margherita pizzete (nothing mind-blowing, but very tasty and fresh ingredients), and bucatini with calabrian chile pomodoro and fresh ricotta (perfectly cooked and really delicious, with the perfect amount of spice).  Wines by the glass were very nice (and the bartender was good with suggestions), and the cappucino I had with dessert was wonderful.  Dessert itself was the low point - I got a lemon meringue dessert with lemon curd and raspberries, which I guess I thought would be closer to pie than to meringue cookies.  Unfortunately, the meringue was very hard, so it was difficult to eat.  Tasty enough though.  The space is gorgeous, and they were super busy - if you're hoping for more than a solo bar spot, make reservations.

I had a nice lunch at Mesa Grill as well - BBQ duck app with blue corn tortilla was really satisfying.  Totally dead for an early lunch on a Thursday.

The Sterling Brunch at Bally's was over the top, but so much fun.  The best items I tried were the lobster bisque, salmon with pearl couscous, and bananas foster french toast.  Of course, the endless champagne and the signature BLT Steak popovers didn't hurt.  :D

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Heading to Vegas this Friday for my Dad's birthday celebration. All he wanted for his birthday was to visit the Grand Canyon and go to Vegas. My tastes are more in-line with my father's but the other people in my family are much pickier. Because of this, I need to go places that will appeal to everyone and aren't just sushi/japanese/etc. My mom will only eat chicken or steak.

So far I have:

- Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill

- Treasure Island Buffet (free with our hotel, though the reviews are so bad I'm considering passing)

- HoneySalt

- Roy's (didn't like the San Francisco one, but the LV one has much better reviews)

- Some sort of Hawaiian b/c my dad is from HI and has been jonesin' for some

- Lunch @ Giada

I'm wondering if there are any good coffee places, and if there are places that we can go to to or from the Grand Canyon. I'd like to try Raku, e, or some of the other high-end restaurants, but I would just hear complaining from those with simpler palettes (no poke I guess!) I'm pretty much resigned to not eat well while we're in the Grand Canyon, which is ok.

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My mom will only eat chicken or steak.

So far I have:

- Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill

- Treasure Island Buffet (free with our hotel, though the reviews are so bad I'm considering passing)

- HoneySalt

- Roy's (didn't like the San Francisco one, but the LV one has much better reviews)

- Some sort of Hawaiian b/c my dad is from HI and has been jonesin' for some

- Lunch @ Giada

What about Bouchon?

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Some sort of Hawaiian b/c my dad is from HI and has been jonesin' for some

Aloha Specialties in the California (downtown) or one of the other "plate lunch" places since you have a car. Aburiya Raku (robata for your mom) and Raku Sweets are both great. Would Thai be too much for the picky eaters? There are lots of steak places.

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Thanks for the recommendations @Gary Tanigawa and @JoshNE. Bouchon is too expensive I think. Aloha Specialties is on the bookmarked list! I was looking at Raku but was leaning against small plates since my dad and brother can put away a lot of food and that could add up quickly ($$$) though could be cheaper for lunch.

The Raku Sweets place looks like a great place to go for a snack! I also like that they carry Lupicia teas.

Are there any good *dim sum* places in LV?

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Are there any good *dim sum* places in LV?

Ping Pang Pong at Gold Coast. Best to be assertive about what you want to eati and the pace, or be Chinese, to avoid a bad experience. KJ Dim Sum at Rio and Chang's Hong Kong Cuisine in Chinatown have been recommended, but I have not gone there yet.

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In Vegas for two nights last weekend, the first night we hit the buffet at Aria ($39.99) with unlimited drinks package ($12.99).  The first time I had the Aria buffet I was impressed, this time was simply meh.  There were no chef's stations and, outside the crab legs, was somewhat average.

So the second night we decided to be grown ups and hit a nicer restaurant in our hotel (Venetian).  Wanted a slightly lower price point than Heritage Steak across the street (holy cow, Tom, I know you are famous but seriously?) and wife was interested in seafood.  I'd never heard of Aquaknox but it was convenient, at the right price point (nice, but not obscene) and had really great reviews online.

Started with the Crab Cake appetizer ($19) - I should learn that crab cakes are sort of what we do around here.  This version was good, but a bit over-salted and just didn't wow.  The Foie Gras slider ($20) with strawberry ketchup on brioche... this was my wife's first time eating foie (I'm working on the problem slowly...) and she thought they were excellent.  I thought they were very good, but I missed the foie a bit (making them the perfect foie intro dish for her).

For entrees she had the Prawns ($36) with couscous and a lobster cream that was fantastic.  I had the scallops ($44) with pea puree, potatoes and carrot confit that was good, but also didn't wow me.  The whole dish felt very heavy despite the peas and carrot - I realize this sounds dumb, but was almost too much scallops?

We drank our dessert with a lovely bottle of Domaine Carneros.  Service was also excellent.

For $200 plus tip, this was a very pleasant meal.  A few hiccups but largely in how I ordered, I'd certainly be willing to give it a second try.

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Just got back from a great 5 days in Vegas stayed at Cesar's

Homestead - link - overpriced steak and wine, good single malt selection.  I'd rather eat at Mackie's in Old Town

Bacchanal Buffet - link - Sunday Brunch - pricey but wonderful, Mimosa's, Eggs Benedict multiple ways, Meats and cheeses, shrimp and grits, pastry - was $50/person (included all you can drink) but kept us full all day, and was just a wonderful experience of gluttony.

Serendipity-3 - Link - went for a cooldown, nice break - over the top sundaes and great malts, the frozen hot chocolate not worth trying but everything else was great - if want a well lighted burger and ice cream break away from the slots this is your place.

Mon Ami Gabi - Link - Over to Paris for dinner with friends - this was great place for a group of 6 - reasonable wine prices, good selection of food was able to handle all the odd dietary restrictions and all quiet yummy.  Long wait for patio but short wait for inside.

Beijing Noodle #9 - Link -  DO NOT MISS this.  You can watch them make the noodles, great dim sum dishes - perfect lunch spot - all white inside with bright lights to give you a sensory break.  Never saw a wait her, great service, yummy food.

Kahunaville - Link - Treasure Island - great place for a meal before Mystere show.  Great burgers and tiki drinks, quick service, friendly staff

Nabu - Link - Wow was this yummy - shared small plates and we went overboard but everything was SO good.  Wait staff all were excellent and able to answer questions, Black Cod in miso sauce was simple divine.

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Its price has creeped up to over $30 but the crispy sea bass on drunken noodles at Lotus of Siam continues to be great. As is the tonkotsu at Monta Ramen (under $7 to boot, though totally worth paying an extra two bucks for added pork...so buttery and satisfying). Not sure there's enough time before my flight tomorrow night for dinner at Raku, so I may try Sweets Raku for lunch.

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Just returned from a tiring conference week in Las Vegas. What I may have burned with my 19,000 steps per day, I more than made up in caloric consumption.

Two standouts on this visit were Julian Serrano in Aria and Chada Thai and Wine off the Strip.

Julian Serrano is a really good tapas restaurant, and thanks to a dinner arranged by my Firm, it didn't cost me anything. The dishes were quite good, and some of us from the DC area remarked that this place rivaled Jose Andres's tapas. The chicken skewers, pinxto moruno (lamb) and calamari black rice were standouts. Despite all of the various choices on the Strip, or even at Aria (Herringbone, Sage, BarMasa), I would definitely hit this place again.

Chada Thai and Wine was as good as any meal I've had at Lotus of Siam. Yes, it's true, some great meals in Las Vegas are off the Strip. My dinner was the Larb, which was the best I've ever had, followed by duck Panang, which was truly outstanding. I'll have to try his other restaurant on my next visit....

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For an upcoming trip need suggestions for one dinner on a Sunday in LV. Not looking for anything fancy - we're staying near the airport because of early flight the next morning, and we won't have dressy clothes with us. Looking for something delicious and close to McCarran or easy to get to.  I hate LV and would rather stay away from the Strip but if that's where the good food is, we're game. 

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1 hour ago, porcupine said:

For an upcoming trip need suggestions for one dinner on a Sunday in LV. Not looking for anything fancy - we're staying near the airport because of early flight the next morning, and we won't have dressy clothes with us. Looking for something delicious and close to McCarran or easy to get to.  I hate LV and would rather stay away from the Strip but if that's where the good food is, we're game. 

If 10-15 minutes away is not too far, then I think the most frequently recommended Lotus of Siam and Raku still both work.

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Thanks for the suggestions. Waited too late to make a res at Lotus of Siam, so read back further in this thread and decided to try Chada Thai and Wine, which was great. Or maybe I just ordered well after a few days of crappy park service concessions food, but it really hit the spot.

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Lotus of Siam was amazing during our visit to LV last August.

I had my first and last introduction to a Vegas buffet at our hotel, the Encore.  Good value for $50, but one thing I will never forget was seeing the lines of tourists queue up for scrambled eggs, bacon and toast instead of the sushi, congree and dim sum that were on offer.  :o:huh::blink:

I have pix in my archives that I'll upload when I get home.  I was thinking to myself, "this is the Vegas equivalent of tourists going to Olive Garden in New York; so depressing".

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On 3/29/2017 at 4:21 PM, TrelayneNYC said:

Lotus of Siam was amazing during our visit to LV last August.

I had my first and last introduction to a Vegas buffet at our hotel, the Encore.  Good value for $50, but one thing I will never forget was seeing the lines of tourists queue up for scrambled eggs, bacon and toast instead of the sushi, congree and dim sum that were on offer.  :o:huh::blink:

I have pix in my archives that I'll upload when I get home.  I was thinking to myself, "this is the Vegas equivalent of tourists going to Olive Garden in New York; so depressing".

Wow, things have really changed in Vegas. My parents used to live there. My father's favorite buffet was at Circus Circus. Breakfast was $1.99, lunch was $2.99, dinner was $4.99.

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Marinated artichokes.

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Caponata.

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Grilled head-on shrimp with fennel and lemon.

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Crepe stuffed with banana and hazelnut.

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Hazelnut gelato.

Excellent from what little I tasted.

Da Flora (inside the Venetian hotel and casino).

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Lobster eggs benedict, potato cake.

This was from one of the restaurants at the Encore.  I don't remember which one.

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Huevos rancheros, crema, avocado and black corn tortilla.

Deceptively substantial.

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Foie gras, bourbon bread pudding, orange cherry salad

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Porterhouse steak with onions and carrots.

We couldn't finish it and took it back to our room. We ended up tossing it out -- the hotel staff aren't allowed to accept gratuities from the guests and that includes food. On our first night in Vegas, the room next to us had leftover Champagne which was offered to us by the cleaning lady.

(No, we didn't take it -- my partner and I are very cheap dates light drinkers.)

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Brown butter cake, blueberry compote, Meyer lemon curd, corn ice cream

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Pork khao soi at Lotus of Siam

In my next post, I'll show you pix of the buffet menu at the Encore.

To be clear, the first five pictures are from a lunch at Da Flora; the lobster eggs benedict and the foie gras, steak and dessert are from two different restaurants in the Encore.  I thought I'd toss some of the food-related pictures in Vegas that I took into one post.

The first pic is an interior of Wazuzu, the Encore's pan-Asian restaurant. It's predictable Asian food cooked by (presumably) non-Asians and catered to mostly non-Asians -- somewhat acceptable while simultaneously managing to be devoid of interest. Sorry if that offends but I'd rather be honest than sugar coat. The meal we had there was mostly forgettable.

The second pic is an interior of Costa di Mare, a mostly fish-based Italian restaurant inside the connecting corridor between the Wynn and the Encore. Maybe we'll go there next time we're in Vegas.

The last interior is a shot inside the open kitchen at Da Flora.

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Left to right:  roast turkey; roast pork; roast ham (?)

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Left to right:  pierogies in cream sauce; vegetable tamales; Spanish rice; minestrone.

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Left to right:  nori pork rinds; marinated olives with herbs and poached garlic; edamame seasoned with sea salt and sesame oil.

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Left to right:  cheesecake bites; yuzu lime bar; creme brulee; Thai iced tea custard cups; carrot cake; lime cones; coffee custard cake; strawberry cake; miniature cupcakes.

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I don't remember what these were, only that they're sugar-free.

 

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Left to right:  vegan chocolate chip cookies; snickerdoodle cookies; magic bar (round and square); warm chocolate cake; strawberry rhubarb crisp.

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Pretzels, candied apples, cake pops.

This was the only buffet we ate during our trip.  It's supposedly one of the better buffets in Las Vegas for that price point.  

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Just spend three nights in Vegas hanging out with some friends from around the country. Here are some of the places we dined.

Julian Serrano Tapas - This spot is located in our hotel, the Aria. This has become my preferred place to stay when in Vegas. Location is good, the rooms are quite nice and pretty large, and they've got a nice casino and pool. They've also got some good restaurants, of which this is one. I had lunch here when I first arrived, and it hit the spot, as did the glass of Txacholi. 

Lotus of Siam - This was the best Thai meal I had on this trip (better than Pok Pok NW in Portland). It didn't blow me away as much as the other time I dined here, but everything we had was really good. 

Bazaar Meat - It feels kind of strange to travel across the country to go to a Jose Andres restaurant, but that's what we did. This new spot is located in the SLS Hotel, and it was fantastic, and perhaps the best smelling restaurant I've ever walked in to. Just walking in made all of us extremely hungry. We had five people, and we made it through a lot of the menu. Croquetas de Jamon were very good, although this is a preparation I've had at other restaurants of his as well. The best thing any of us ate was the "cheesesteak" (and actually two folks had the "reuben"). It was a tube of bread filled with steak and a liquid cheese sauce, and it was incredible. I'm doing a bad job of describing it. The steak tartare was prepared tableside, and was one of the better versions I've had. For our main meats we got a quarter of a suckling pig, and that was phenomenal. For the steak we had a beautiful 2.5 lb wagyu/black angus ribeye. It was really good, but just not as good as the pig. The wines we had (a rioja and a duero) were both great, but it was a very expensive list. 

Beauty & Essex - This is a newer restaurant located in the Cosmopolitan. Pretty much everything we ordered tasted fantastic, but the experience was marred by some real service errors. We'd conferred with our server on our order, ordered two different wines to pair with what we ordered, and she indicated how it would be coursed out. Instead, after a totally normal beginning, the food came out extremely fast, to the point where we actually sent back two items because we simply didn't have room for them on our table. They dealt with this well, comping those dishes and re-firing them, but it did lessen the experience a bit, as did the fact that this might be the loudest restaurant I've ever been in.

That said, the food was really, really good. The great dishes were the tuna poke wonton tacos, the yellowtail sashimi, the Spanish chorizo arancini, the Thai style deep-fried shrimp, the molasses glazed pork belly, the Double Barrel Pork Chop "Al Pastor", and the 40-day Dry-Aged Tomahawk Ribeye. A few things were good, but not spectacular, including the Smoked Paprika Dusted Scallops, Broccolini, and the Grilled Cheese, Smoked Bacon & Tomato Soup Dumplings (apparently a signature item). Two items, Brussels Sprouts and Dry Aged Chuck Sliders, were basically zeroes. 

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Going to Las Vegas next month for a conference.  Alone.  Without husband or offspring.   With good books to read.  

Staying at the Cosmopolitan and will have a car.  Willing to spend a good amount of money but the budget is endless.  I think I have two dinners and one lunch slot.  Was thinking of Scarpetta for one dinner but can't decide on the second.  

Where should BLB eat?  

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If you're willing to travel off the strip and in the mood for Asian food, go to Raku. We talk about the Thai places in LV a lot but it' s hard to eat a varied meal by yourself at those restaurants unless you want to have a LOT of leftovers. But Raku has small, exquisite portions, so you can try many different things. Worth a thought!

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18 hours ago, Sundae in the Park said:

If you're willing to travel off the strip and in the mood for Asian food, go to Raku. We talk about the Thai places in LV a lot but it' s hard to eat a varied meal by yourself at those restaurants unless you want to have a LOT of leftovers. But Raku has small, exquisite portions, so you can try many different things. Worth a thought!

For our Washington, DC readers: Raku is a Japanese word that means 'comfort, ease, or relief.'

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On 9/4/2017 at 1:46 AM, Sundae in the Park said:

If you're willing to travel off the strip and in the mood for Asian food, go to Raku. We talk about the Thai places in LV a lot but it' s hard to eat a varied meal by yourself at those restaurants unless you want to have a LOT of leftovers. But Raku has small, exquisite portions, so you can try many different things. Worth a thought!

Great suggestion. I recommend checking the prices of any nightly specials. It was years ago, but I ordered some sort of special Japanese eel that was as expensive as the price of the rest of the fish I had ordered combined. $20 something I believe. 

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If you've been to Sushi Taro's bar, then Raku will be a let down imo.  I didn't think anything was all that special.  I'm heading to Vegas right now and I'm booked at Costa di Mare (think Fiola Mare), Twist, and B&B (I like Mario and pasta).  For lunch, I'm happy to get some pizza at Grimald's either at Fashion Show mall or the Palazzo. I think I'm actually going to Lotus of Siam on this trip.

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Back and recovered from the red-eye back last weekend.

Rose Rabbit Lie at the Cosmopolitan was the hit of the trip.  At least until that moment that the divider right behind me was lowered and the band started playing jazz.  I skipped dessert and the apple ice wine and saved $50 by going back to my room...  Had the French Onion Popovers, a delightful scallops dish and the short rib stroganoff.  Plus a charming glass of champagne off their list of "we like to open bottles from tiny producers that you will love and never be able to find again" list.

Other dinners were at Scarpetta (duck and fois gras ravioli for the win) and Bouchon (really good leg of lamb, too mustardy deviled eggs.)

The timing didn't work out to explore off the strip for lunch the one day I was free and the other lunch day I was stuck at the Red Rock Resort and ended up at Rubio's for a surprisingly good fish burrito.  

I enjoyed the visit overall but the time change was hard.  Even trying to eat dinner at 6:30 felt weird when it was 9:30 body clock time.

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Twist at Mandarin Oriental is quite an experience.  The restaurant as well as the hotel reception is on the top floor of the building.  The service is impeccable.  I ate there by myself so they had a table for one waiting for me - one chair and one setting.  I ordered their vegetarian tasting and added a lobster appetizer 4 ways which really filled me up so I told them no mas after 4 courses and they knocked the price down on the vegetarian tasting from $100 to $75 without me asking.  The service matched the experience I had at Michelin 3 star restaurants.

Rose Rabbit Lie is dinner and a show but the dinner part is super competent and I always find their menu interesting.

I’m starting to experience fatigue with Batali restaurants.  I’ve never had really good food at any of them.  The menus seem so promising but the food is uneven in terms of execution.

and I still haven’t gone to Lotus of Siam.  The food options on the strip is so plentiful that going off the strip seems unnecessary.  I was staying at the Linq for free and I never went past the Manafarin Oriental to the north or Wynn to the south on my last trip.  The Venetian really floats my boat.

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Went to Vegas, again.  Laid a bet on Uruguay to win its group in the World Cup.  The rest of the time was spent shopping, some minimal gambling, and eating.  A word on shopping....it's great but the sales tax is a hefty 8.25%.  I blew a thousand bucks on shoes before realizing that fact.  Hey, the tag says $670, why is the total $725?  Oh fuck me, I just paid $55 in sales taxes.  Why doesn't Delaware have luxury casinos and Prada?

My first meal was at Wicked Spoon (Cosmo's buffet) and it sucked.  One of the reasons I eat buffets in Vegas is because I thought they'd be good and also they open early.  I eat two meals a day, and I like my brunch at 10:30 or so.  After trying pretty much all the fancy brunches - I can't really recommend any.  Caesar's at least has seafood if you want to eat oysters and cold crab legs in the morning (I don't).

Dinners were at Yellowtail and Costa di Mare.  Yellowtail is expensive because it's in Bellagio.  Costa di Mare is expensive because it's in Wynn, and they fly seafood in from Europe.  I didn't think Yellowtail is anything special.  In fact, their sushi that came with the omakase was terrible.  I ordered the omakase because it's bargain, 7 courses for $125.  Order a la carte and you'd spend $200, like I did at Costa di Mare, but at least the seafood there is pristine, and the service was spectacular.

And I ate lunch at Grimaldi's pizza - my favorite pizza joint in Vegas and I eat there almost on every trip.  Still haven't gone to Lotus of Siam.

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12 hours ago, Ericandblueboy said:

 

My first meal was at Wicked Spoon (Cosmo's buffet) and it sucked.  One of the reasons I eat buffets in Vegas is because I thought they'd be good and also they open early.  I eat two meals a day, and I like my brunch at 10:30 or so.  After trying pretty much all the fancy brunches - I can't really recommend any.  Caesar's at least has seafood if you want to eat oysters and cold crab legs in the morning (I don't).

next time you're at the Cosmo and want brunch, I'd honestly just go to Eggslut (terrible name, great food).  the line can be long, but in my experience it's much shorter than at their original location in LA.  and sure, you'll have to find a place to sit down and eat, but it's better than dealing with the buffet.

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Andrew Zimmern is on his third food series - Zimmern's List.  The premise is that he reveals his personal list of favorite foods, places and experiences that should be on everyone's travel itinerary.  In the Las Vegas episode, he visits Bazaar Meat, Chubby Cattle (hot pot), and Hobak (KBBQ).  All I can say is the steak and suckling pig loos so good that I'm making reservation for my next trip in July.

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