Iím going to Las Vegas primarily to attend the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA awards ceremony (edited to add: click that link for companion topic), conference and gala on Monday (5 January 2009), about which Iíll post separately when the time comes. However, Iím flying out a couple of days early in order to explore some Las Vegas Asian dining spots.
Todayís plan is to meet up with two fine gentleman, John Curtas and David Ross, and together visit an unholy number of Asian restaurants. I intend to post updates and photos throughout the day. I have already warned John and David that at the conclusion of each snacking event I will need a few minutes to upload photos and key in comments. Actually, I think I forgot to tell them that.
David Ross is, among other things, the newest addition to the eG Forums hosting team. Itís a great pleasure to have him on board. David lives in Seattle, but thanks to his storied career as an ďin-flight supervisorĒ with one of the airlines heís able to jet to and fro at his pleasure. I wonít know, until shortly after I land in Las Vegas, whether David was able to escape from Seattle (the meteorological situation there has been grim of late), but Iím optimistic that if even one aircraft makes it out of Seattle today it will be the one that carries David Ross.
I donít quite know how to describe John Curtas. He seems to have a hand in just about everything. Heís a food writer, radio-and-television personality and blogger. Heís a relentless advocate for Las Vegas dining. There always seems to be at least one depressed, out-of-work New York or California chef crashing in his extra bedroom. Heís also an attorney. I think for a time he was a judge. He hangs around with people in law enforcement; if you get a parking ticket in Las Vegas heís the guy to talk to. Heís somewhere between the ages of 35 and 90 Ė nobody is sure. It wouldnít surprise me to learn that he has no children, or eleven. He dresses well. He knows everybody. He has unpopular political views. Needless to say he has a gorgeous girlfriend despite being not the least bit gorgeous himself.
Las Vegas is full of luxury restaurant properties, based in the casino hotels. Iíd love some day to dine at Robuchon et al., but that will have to wait for another trip. For years now, ever since my friend Matt Seeber moved out to Las Vegas to take the executive chef position at Tom Colicchioís Craftsteak, Iíve been hearing bits and pieces about the ďrealĒ Las Vegas that lies beyond the strip: the part of Las Vegas where all the people who work in the casino hotels, not to mention the attorneys, judges and food critics, live, raise their children and eat.
And I have a particular interest in Asian restaurants at the moment. Iím currently working on my second Asian-restaurant book project. Shortly after the publication of ďAsian Dining Rules,Ē the editors of Chinese Restaurant News (the industry journal for Americaís more than 43,000 Chinese restaurants) contacted me to ask me to do a book project for them: a Chinese-restaurant guidebook based on the annual Top 100 Chinese Restaurants awards (itís actually 100 restaurants in each of 10 categories). So I have a great excuse to continue my life-long habit of eating more Asian food each day than any real Asian person. For professional reasons, of course.
Iíve known for some time about a Las Vegas restaurant called Lotus of Siam, a Thai restaurant in a shopping center. Many reliable people have represented to me that itís the best Thai restaurant outside of Thailand. John has promised us dinner there. The rest of what weíll do today will be uncharted territory for me. There is, according to John, a several-mile stretch of Las Vegas-area highway that has in recent times developed into a Little Asia, with restaurants and shops representing all the usual suspects and then some. This is the area through which John will be leading our expedition today.
John sent me an itinerary enumerating all our planned stops. Itís not clear to me whether heís serious. If he is serious, itís unlikely that weíll survive the day. If we make half the stops, weíll probably make it despite severe gastrointestinal distress.
When we land Iíll post this, find John Curtasís blue Acura at the passenger pick-up area, track down David Ross (whose flight arrives around the same time as mine) and weíll be on our way. In the meantime I will resist the temptation to consume delicious in-flight snacks, so as to begin the campaign on an empty stomach.
(A shout out to my dear friend and colleague Chris Amirault for the topic title.)
Edited by Fat Guy, 06 January 2009 - 11:55 AM.