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Fear and Lotus in Las Vegas - Asian dining


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Shaw, Curtas and Ross. It was wonderful.

You don't happen to be a lawyer, do you?  :raz::laugh: Sounds like a good law firm.

Shaw, Curtas and Ross? They're not related to Dewey, Cheatum and How, are they?? :rolleyes::rolleyes:

As many times as I've gone to Las Vegas, dining both on the Strip and around local LV, why do I feel that I missed out on this colossal convergence of culinary comrades? And I'm not talking about the Vegas Uncork'd conference in May.

Steve, John & David, thank you for your participation in this whirlwind Asian culinary tour, as well as for the posts. So, when are you going to do this again? Can we come along too?

David, all this picture- & note-taking can be a distraction from enjoying the moment of eating and dining and conversing. Sometimes, we just need to listen to our inner voice, that wants to say, SHUT UP AND EAT!!

Steve & David, how surprised were you, that you apparently dined so well in Las Vegas, OFF THE STRIP??

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Just a quick epilogue here:

I spent the following day doing non-Asian stuff, hanging out with my friend Matt Seeber (who is now the executive chef at Craftsteak Las Vegas and was for a time an eG Forums host back in the day). We went to Mike Mills's barbecue place where among other things we tried the amazing barbecue nachos (nachos topped with the Mills baked bean recipe and several kinds of barbecued meat, plus the usual stuff), and we had a lengthy and fabulous dinner experience at Craftsteak (if you really want VIP treatment at a restaurant, forget about becoming a food writer; you need to eat there with the chef on his night off). And we had breakfast at a place called Hash House A Go Go, which is a small chain that is Matt's (and now my) favorite place for breakfast.

That evening and the following day it was back to Asia for the big Top 100 event (which is chronicled here). I thought I'd mention one thing about John Curtas on this topic, though, in order to keep it in the more relevant spot. John came with me to the Top 100 black-tie gala banquet. Among other things, he tied my bow-tie (I just knew he was going to be good at that sort of thing) and acted as my personal photographer. At one point in the red-carpet arrival-and-photography process, the mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, arrived to great fanfare. He looked around the room, walked right over and said, "John Curtas! How the hell are you?" A little while later, Robin Leach arrived, surveyed the crowd, came over and said, "John!" This earned me tremendous street cred, my photographer/valet being buddies with the mayor and Robin Leach.

I had to catch the redeye after the awards gala, but John convinced me that if we timed it just right we could have about 90 minutes to spend at Encore, the new companion casino-hotel to the Wynn. We visited just about every one of the new restaurants at Encore (Bottero, Sinatra, Switch, etc.) in, well, it was longer than 90 minutes, an hour of which we spent drinking a bottle of wine at Switch and watching the decor changes that occur every 20 minutes (it's pretty amazing, and it only cost something like $40 million to engineer). We cut the timing so close that I arrived at the airport still in my tux, but I guess that sort of thing is business-as-usual in Vegas.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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And we had breakfast at a place called Hash House A Go Go, which is a small chain that is Matt's (and now my) favorite place for breakfast.

Based on that fantastic name, it's now my favorite place for breakfast, too. Does Johnny Rivers perform "Secret Agent Man" there while you wait for your eggs?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I just took a look at the weird website for the restaurants, of which there seem to be just two: one in San Diego, and one in Las Vegas. Which is odd given that it's an Indiana-themed menu. I can't explain the place. I can only say that within its category (economical, huge portions, rustic American) it's the best breakfast place I've ever been.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I just took a look at the weird website for the restaurants, of which there seem to be just two: one in San Diego, and one in Las Vegas. Which is odd given that it's an Indiana-themed menu. I can't explain the place. I can only say that within its category (economical, huge portions, rustic American) it's the best breakfast place I've ever been.

The very best place you've ever had breakfast? Better than Lou Mitchell's in Chicago?

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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You got me. Lou Mitchell's is the other best breakfast I've ever had.

I wasn't trying to call you out, but since I wasn't there . . . inquiring minds want to know! To me, it sounds like it's worth the trip. I love a good (great) breakfast! But Lou Mitchell's is really great so I wanted to know what sort of stakes we're talking about.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Oh, just a cup of coffee.

That's all I would have had room for if I undertook that eating binge! :laugh: Musta been one helluva great cuppa joe.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The dim sum at Ping Pang Pong, however, turned out to be world class. An oasis.

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Steven, thanks for the great report and for taking one for the team. :wink:

I am curious about the dim sum being served as 4 pieces. Most dim sum place I've dined at won't serve 4 pieces since the number 4 is considered bad luck.

But that doesn't seem to be the case at Ping Pang Pong.

What have you found in your research of dim dum restaurants? Do the number of pieces vary or is the number 4 usually avoided?

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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In my experience 4 is the most common number of har gow, shu mai, etc., that one sees in a dim sum mini steamer. I just looked through some old photos and found this one from Evergreen Cafe in New York, where I had dim sum last year:

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 2 weeks later...
As we approached our first stop, things seemed inauspicious. The doubts about John’s leadership ability were palpable. We pulled into the parking lot of the least glamorous casino imaginable – the Gold Coast – and walked through a terribly depressing scene of people gambling away their disability checks at slot machines while chain smoking. The restaurant, for its part, was named Ping Pang Pong.

The dim sum at Ping Pang Pong, however, turned out to be world class. An oasis.

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And here’s our guide, John Curtas, credibility restored.

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My camera finally found its way home last week, so I now have the pleasure of adding to Steven's delicious photos-starting with some snapshots of the dim sum at Ping Pang Pong-

Are we ready to begin the eating marathon?

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Steven perusing the carts-

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A closer look at the dumplings-

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The best part of the dim sum at Ping Pang Pong, the flaky pastry-

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Buttery, light and delicious pastry holding sweet bean paste-

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I just read through this thread and it looks like you had some great food. I was particularly taken with the tom ka kha gai at Lotus of Siam:

We then had tom kai kai, the Thai coconut soup with chicken. The soup itself was the best rendition I've had of that soup, though the chicken itself was unfortunately dry and overcooked.

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That's just how I love this soup -- with a roasted chile paste oil slick floating on rich, fragrant coconut milk.

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I just read through this thread and it looks like you had some great food. I was particularly taken with the tom ka kha gai at Lotus of Siam:
We then had tom kai kai, the Thai coconut soup with chicken. The soup itself was the best rendition I've had of that soup, though the chicken itself was unfortunately dry and overcooked.

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That's just how I love this soup -- with a roasted chile paste oil slick floating on rich, fragrant coconut milk.

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Bruce-very nice indeed.

I'm kicking myself right now because I'm getting over a very bad cold and now-a week later-I realize what would have been the perfect comfort cure for my malaise-a big bowl of this soup. That deliciously spicy chile oil slick on the top of the soup would have cleared up my sinuses in no time!

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What are these two things? They seem to fit into my mantra (anything fried is good), but don't look familiar (the first one looks like it has a curry-puff-type pastry, and the second one looks like a pumped up version of hum sui gok, but what's that thing sticking out of it?).

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I don't remember what they were exactly because everything came so fast and furious, but both were sweet-ish items from the "dessert" phase of the progression. The first one was so hot (temperature) I almost had to be rushed to the burn unit. The stem-like thing on the pear-shaped pastry is a piece of Chinese sausage I believe.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I don't remember what they were exactly because everything came so fast and furious, but both were sweet-ish items from the "dessert" phase of the progression. The first one was so hot (temperature) I almost had to be rushed to the burn unit. The stem-like thing on the pear-shaped pastry is a piece of Chinese sausage I believe.

Interesting. Do you remember what the stem thing is sticking out of the first one, too? It looks like some kind of fruit stem (a really long cherry stem?).

Chinese sausage in a dessert-like item? Too bad there aren't any pictures of innards. I love pics of innards!

I need to go to LV again. To think I missed those places (we did have fairly good take-out Chinese, and some good dim sum at a place in the same strip mall as a 99 Ranch Market, though)!

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I'm sure that string-like thing was edible, but I didn't eat it. It really seemed like a piece of string, though it surely wasn't.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think I need to go to Ping Pang Pong next time I am in Las Vegas. That it's in a "major" casino is actually a plus. :cool:

Now, I just need someone to "guide" and order stuff. :)

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Steven, so you're saying this place lives up to the hype of being the best Thai out of Thailand?

All this amazing Asian food in Las Vegas is blowing my mind. I thought it was a rather white bread kind of town outside of the casinos.

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Well, these "best" claims always need to be qualified. Certainly, of all the Thai restaurants I've been to, Lotus served the most elegant, interesting, delicious food. I can't really think of an equivalent haute-rustic Thai restaurant that I've been to. At the same time, you can't really compare it to a place like Sripraphai in New York or the good places in Chicago, which tend towards the pure rustic. Those restaurants are delicious in their own rights, but I think Lotus is doing something beyond that.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Oh, just a cup of coffee.

That's all I would have had room for if I undertook that eating binge! :laugh: Musta been one helluva great cuppa joe.

I just realized I neglected to circle back around to this query. One of the signature items at Hash House A Go Go is what they call a "scramble." I like it because it avoids the problem of an American-style diner omelette, namely that when you make a huge omelette stuffed with lots of stuff you wind up overcooking the heck out of the eggs. With a scramble they take all the fillings that would normally go into an omelette and they just fold them into scrambled eggs. It's great. We tried a couple of them but by far the best one consisted of eggs, thick-cut crispy chunks of bacon, avocado, onion and Swiss cheese. The scrambles also come with a choice of excellent mashed potatoes or home fries, plus a pretty good biscuit.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 2 years later...

This concludes the Chinese phase of the day. So far today we haven't had a bad dish. Granted, John Curtas carefully selected all the spots, and the dim-sum people knew we were coming and treated us like super-VIPs, but the Vegas Asian-dining scene, so far, has been quite impressive. We're now off to take an hour-long break before heading for Lotus of Siam.

Impressive in the sense in how much its grown compared to where they were just a couple of years ago, or impressive in the sense that its just as delicious as what you will find in Chinese restaurants in San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles?

I live around LA and I can get really delicious Chinese food here so I've always been indifferent to the Chinese food in Las Vegas in years past. It always seemed I was paying more in Vegas only to eat inferior versions of the food I could eat back in LA.

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