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Dining in Las Vegas: Part 2

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Posted (edited)

Hello? Hello? Anyone there? *taps mic*

 

Can't just be me reporting on the Las Vegas food scene. @David Ross any more forays into our indulgent city? I'd hate for this thread to die.

 

A welcome change of life events for me, I eat out more often now, as a single-diner. Life is too short and this city offers to many edible delights, so I've been eating out at least once a week. The upside is I get to report on the restaurant scene, something I fell out of habit doing around two-years ago.

 

This week was Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan.

 

A few thoughts before my review, so you know where I'm coming from: Momofuku is an East Coast phenomenon. While New Yorkers were slurping up ramen and baos, we, on the West Coast, were chowing on Father's Office hamburgers and Koji tacos. The similarity being they were all created by Korean-American "celebrity" chefs. I've seen David Chang on social media and, more than once, screamed at the television at him. I don't really get his "schtick" but he seems to be the darling of the hipster food-scene in New York and beyond. I disagree with his love for Dominoes pizza and Taco Bell.

 

Well, Chang has no such rep here, it seems the "cool" thing to do is bash Momofuku and Chang and whatever he's doing out here.  He once said Palace Station's Oyster Bar was his favorite place to eat in our norm-core city. That didn't win him any foodie creds with us but it did win John Curtas an article of the year.

 

So, I dutifully walked into this place, dutifully reporting that I hated it..... NOT. Momofuku blew my mind, I knew I should always trust my fellow eGulleteers, this place was awesome.

 

I don't eat a lot, so I can't post vast pictorials of elaborate meals, but what I had was amazing.

 

IMG_3009.thumb.JPG.1903bfc2c6bc87be763c35b4aaa56792.JPG

 

I started with a Spring Fling, cocktail made of vodka, stawberry, rhubarb, cinchona, $16. This was delicious, light (maybe a bit too light) and fruity. It was served in a wine glass, like a craft wine cooler, but in a good way. The rhubarb added an unusual tart note and the cinchona made it all interesting.

 

IMG_3011.thumb.JPG.3fcc1794ce667c10f07529fd7b5e1913.JPG

 

Next, I got the Shoyu Pork Ramen (pork belly & shoulder, slow poached egg), $17. This just blew my mind. Now this is ramen. Everything about it was good, the pork belly was delightfully unctuous, the pulled pork flavorful (put my pulled pork to shame), the broth smoky, and noodles were perfectly chewy. All this for $17! It was almost the same price as a slice of birthday cake! Anyone who says they had better ramen in our town needs to have their taste buds examined. And we have awesome ramen in our town, but they just don't compare. This was the best ramen I've ever had.

 

Lastly, I got the famous birthday cake to go. It was mediocre in every way except the price, $14 a slice. Skip. Wasn't a complete loss, I finally got to say something bad about Momofuku. Whew, do I gain membership in the jaded foodie crowd?

 

Overall, Momofuku is a winner in every way: food, price, service. I love it. Definitely made it into my rotation. Actually, I can't wait. What am I doing tomorrow?

 

 


Edited by Smokeydoke (log)
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On ‎3‎/‎16‎/‎2018 at 5:40 PM, Smokeydoke said:

I'm sorry to hear John Curtas will be ending his blog.

http://www.eatinglv.com/

 

Honestly, he was the last reliable source for goods eats, at least for me.

John is one of my best friends.  We met over 15 years ago, being introduced by another great friend, the noted food writer Alan Richman.  I was going to a lot of food events in Las Vegas at the time, including the first years of Vegas Uncork'd sponsored by Bon Appetit.  What great memories of many great meals, all at the time that the first "celebrity" chefs were coming to town and there was a big return of very fine dining. 

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3 hours ago, Smokeydoke said:

Hello? Hello? Anyone there? *taps mic*

 

Can't just be me reporting on the Las Vegas food scene. @David Ross any more forays into our indulgent city? I'd hate for this thread to die.

 

A welcome change of life events for me, I eat out more often now, as a single-diner. Life is too short and this city offers to many edible delights, so I've been eating out at least once a week. The upside is I get to report on the restaurant scene, something I fell out of habit doing around two-years ago.

 

This week was Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan.

 

A few thoughts before my review, so you know where I'm coming from: Momofuku is an East Coast phenomenon. While New Yorkers were slurping up ramen and baos, we, on the West Coast, were chowing on Father's Office hamburgers and Koji tacos. The similarity being they were all created by Korean-American "celebrity" chefs. I've seen David Chang on social media and, more than once, screamed at the television at him. I don't really get his "schtick" but he seems to be the darling of the hipster food-scene in New York and beyond. I disagree with his love for Dominoes pizza and Taco Bell.

 

Well, Chang has no such rep here, it seems the "cool" thing to do is bash Momofuku and Chang and whatever he's doing out here.  He once said Palace Station's Oyster Bar was his favorite place to eat in our norm-core city. That didn't win him any foodie creds with us but it did win John Curtas an article of the year.

 

So, I dutifully walked into this place, dutifully reporting that I hated it..... NOT. Momofuku blew my mind, I knew I should always trust my fellow eGulleteers, this place was awesome.

 

I don't eat a lot, so I can't post vast pictorials of elaborate meals, but what I had was amazing.

 

IMG_3009.thumb.JPG.1903bfc2c6bc87be763c35b4aaa56792.JPG

 

I started with a Spring Fling, cocktail made of vodka, stawberry, rhubarb, cinchona, $16. This was delicious, light (maybe a bit too light) and fruity. It was served in a wine glass, like a craft wine cooler, but in a good way. The rhubarb added an unusual tart note and the cinchona made it all interesting.

 

IMG_3011.thumb.JPG.3fcc1794ce667c10f07529fd7b5e1913.JPG

 

Next, I got the Shoyu Pork Ramen (pork belly & shoulder, slow poached egg), $17. This just blew my mind. Now this is ramen. Everything about it was good, the pork belly was delightfully unctuous, the pulled pork flavorful (put my pulled pork to shame), the broth smoky, and noodles were perfectly chewy. All this for $17! It was almost the same price as a slice of birthday cake! Anyone who says they had better ramen in our town needs to have their taste buds examined. And we have awesome ramen in our town, but they just don't compare. This was the best ramen I've ever had.

 

Lastly, I got the famous birthday cake to go. It was mediocre in every way except the price, $14 a slice. Skip. Wasn't a complete loss, I finally got to say something bad about Momofuku. Whew, do I gain membership in the jaded foodie crowd?

 

Overall, Momofuku is a winner in every way: food, price, service. I love it. Definitely made it into my rotation. Actually, I can't wait. What am I doing tomorrow?

 

 

 

I've been wondering what folks thought of Momofuku.  2017 wasn't kind to me with a knee replacement followed by a broken arm 5 months later, so travel "wasn't in the cards" so to speak.  But I typically make 3-4 trips a year for eating and dining, (no gambling or shows), just pure indulgence.  I try to categorize my choices, so for example my favorites in the fine dining, ridiculously expensive French category are L'Atelier by Joel Robuchon at the MGM, LeCirque with the generous manage Ivo Angelov at the Bellagio and Guy Savoy at Caesar's.  I've met Guy Savoy a number of times when he's been at the restaurant and he's charming and gracious.  Not at all pretentious.  I avoid Twist by Pierre Gagnaire.  I met him once and he's also an affable fellow, but the General Manager and hostess when I was there were awful.  Gave me a signed copy of the Twist book, saying it was "complimentary", then put a charge of $75 bucks on the bill.  Anyway I love seeing photos and reviews from the great restaurants in Las Vegas.

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We used to greatly enjoy the jazz brunch at the Wynn Country Club. We have not been to LV in a few years, but hope to return soon. I read somewhere that some kind of changes were being made that would take away that fantastic view, which I think would be a crime. The food, the music and the view made a wonderful trio. Has anyone been who can report?

HC

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One of the best meals I ever had down there was a dim sum lunch at Ping Pang Pong in the Gold Coast Hotel, not known as a bastion for great dining.  John Curtas was with us, along with our dear friend Steven Shaw who was a founder of eGullet and left us far too soon.  Steven was in town to accept an award from a society for his Asian Dining Rules book.  That restaurant has only gotten better in recent years and folks line up every morning waiting for dim sum to begin.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, David Ross said:

One of the best meals I ever had down there was a dim sum lunch at Ping Pang Pong in the Gold Coast Hotel, not known as a bastion for great dining.  John Curtas was with us, along with our dear friend Steven Shaw who was a founder of eGullet and left us far too soon.  Steven was in town to accept an award from a society for his Asian Dining Rules book.  That restaurant has only gotten better in recent years and folks line up every morning waiting for dim sum to begin.

I remember when Steven wrote about that.That is where I learned to enjoy chicken feet. Deb rolled her eyes quite a bit at that sitting. The Vienna Beef hot dogs from the Gold Coast cart are among my favorites at $1.25 each, they are a favorite poolside lunch for us.

HC


Edited by HungryChris (log)

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@David Ross I'm sorry to hear about your knee and arm. I hope 2018 treats you better. And John Curtas will be a loss to the Las Vegas food scene. You're lucky to be his friend.

 

I, too, was not enamored by Twist. We should start a secret society. To be fair, I've only been once, and I expected a sublime experience. It was anything but. I'd like to go back, but there's so many other places on my list, most pressing being Guy Savoy.

 

I've been to Ping Pang Pong, twice, but I haven't been back since they remodeled. The food is excellent but I think Elite in SGV edges them out as my favorite dim sum.

 

@HungryChris I will find out more info about the Wynn Country Club, I know someone who works as a receptionist there. I agree, that would be a shame, that is a beautiful space.

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On ‎4‎/‎4‎/‎2018 at 5:26 PM, Smokeydoke said:

 

@HungryChris I will find out more info about the Wynn Country Club, I know someone who works as a receptionist there. I agree, that would be a shame, that is a beautiful space.

It kinda sounds like it has closed altogether in the early part of this year. If that is true, I am heartbroken! That was such a fine place. It almost makes me not want to go back to Vegas at all.

HC

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@HungryChris that's too bad, I've only read good things about WCC. Too many great restaurants get shuttered here.

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Posted (edited)

I just had an amazing meal at Bazaar Meat, @Jose Andres place at SLS hotel. I've been reading about Andrés for years, starting in LA with The Bazaar, then with the extremely successful é by José Andrés and I finally got to visit Bazaar Meat, his version of a steakhouse. Life changing is all I can say. Why did I wait so long? The food was sublime, I never want to eat at another restaurant again. I think I'll starve for five days, save enough money, then eat here every five days. That's how good it was. It really opened my eyes to how food can be an experience and not about satiation.

 

IMG_3048.thumb.JPG.f7ba26793407446c967c58d1f24ddf3e.JPG

 

Being a single diner, I ate at Bar Centro, which is not as formal as their dining area. They have happy hour from 530 to 7 (530 on the dot) but the prices were almost the same, the only big discount were the cocktails. They usually range $16-20, but during happy hour they are $8. I got the La Invencible (bols Genever, Amontillado sherry, PX sherry, bitters). It was dry, not very good on its own, but perfect with what I ordered, which were fatty tapas. Next time, I'd go with their house red, $8, which gets good reviews. I'm sure it'll be a perfect match for the various meat dishes they offer.

 

On to the food....

 

The dish pictured above is the Cotton Candy Foie Gras with crispy amaranth ($8). There is a piece of foie gras in the center. There was nothing but squeals of delight as I bit through the airy cotton onto a buttery, fatty piece of foie. It made for the perfect bite, a perfect adult treat. 

 

IMG_3044.thumb.JPG.be98ebda706b2fc92370bf2e05d4e4f2.JPG

 

Next was Andres version of Bagels and Lox ($6), a dill cream cheese topped with salmon roe in a crispy shell. A delightful bite, oozing with unami.

 

IMG_3046.thumb.jpg.c2dd4fcf5164ed67d494914d82d7c94e.jpg

 

Reuben (corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island, Swiss crema) was my favorite dish of the night. It's served inside an air bread, which isn't like bread at all, it's like a pastry shell, so when you bite into, you just get this lovely cheese mixed with the salty beef and the tangy sauerkraut. You can hardly taste the bread. For me, it was the perfect appetizer, delicious and unctuous, but not too filling.  It went great with the harsh cocktail.

 

IMG_3047.thumb.jpg.060cb220c0eb03eb36d8b5eb89023b7e.jpg

 

Freshest oysters in Las Vegas, delicious.

 

IMG_3041.thumb.JPG.be12d0968fcde9c8c0af3a8cebeaf0a6.JPG

 

I also got the Croquetas de Jamon, (creamy bechamel). This was the only dish of the night I didn't care for. The only reason I got it was to taste jamon de bellata. As I've stated in threads before, I love country ham, or any derivative of, and jamon de bellata is suppose to be the best in the world. I was so excited to see it on the menu and try it. But the croquetas were so creamy and cheesy, I couldn't make out the flavors of the ham. It tasted like a croqueta that I could have anywhere. I don't know why the chef would make these so cheesy to disguise the taste of the ham? Oh well, they do serve jamon de bellata in other dishes, which I'm excited to try next time.

 

Overall, it was a superb dining experience, I'm going to say the best meal of my life. I am so happy with this meal, I was walking on a cloud of air the rest of the night. Even the horrible almond croissant I got at the hotel didn't deter my mood (and yes, I got the croissant because I was still hungry, but it was worth every penny). I can't wait to come back and eat in the formal dining area and try their meat dishes. They also have an impressive wine selection.

 

One of the best restaurants in Las Vegas, if not one of the best in the world.

 

 


Edited by Smokeydoke (log)
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I had a great meal at an Andres place in the Cosmopolitan.  Hotel seems kind of downmarket, but this was a worthwhile restaurant 

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Re, Jose Andres. One of the great humanitarians  in the world. What he's doing with World Central Kitchen in Haiti, Puerto Rico and other places is extraordinary. I met him once and he was just as great in person. However, his food, not so much. I had some decent tapas in his original restaurant, also called Jaleo in DC in 2005 and he insisted I try his Vegas Jaleo, most of whose dishes I found inedible. His China Poblemo was slightly better but hardly worth going to. The only good thing I can remember about my $300 meal at e was a very good mocktail featuring pear juice, green tea and jasmine air. The food filled me up rather painfully and no memories remain. I've dined at his Bazaar Meat 3 times and his beef is pretty good (although not for anyone who has lived in Japan, as I did for many years). Beef on bread sticks was quite tasty, better if you avoid the bread. His tomato tartare was torture, Brussels sprouts in foam was an insult to my palate (thankfully they didn't charge me for it) and his gin and tonic is good, but not worth the price. Even his olives a la Fernan Adria were a waste of taste. In my recent visit to Vegas in Feb, I had a tasty mushroom croquette and quite tasty sangria at Jaleo, so maybe I'll check it out next trip, but nothing from any of Jose's restaurants compared to the scallop and apricot tapa I had at Julian Serrano's this trip, though Julian's Picasso veg menu was a vast disappointment.

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@C Simril I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience. I heard about e, but I hesitated to go because of the price, however I'm determined to go now. China Poblano gets mixed reviews, so I've been turned off.

 

As for Bazaar Meat, I thought almost every dish was excellent and perfectly executed. I don't eat at restaurants that specialize in gastronomy often, so this was a treat. I'm sure there's people who balk at $16 paper-thin slices of jamon, but not me, this was exactly what I was looking for. I'll avoid the dishes you mentioned, I'm sad to hear about the olives, as it piqued my curiosity, but $16 for olives is outrageous. I have a feeling his restaurant is a mixture of major wins and major fails, as most gastronomy restaurants are.

 

Julian Serrano is on my very long list of restaurants to try, I'll be sure to tag you if I ever go, but I don't report on restaurants that I didn't think were amazing.

 

Maybe you can come up with a list of your "best of"? I can get a sense of the diner when he composes a list of what he likes best.

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The best food I've eaten in Vegas would be: Prawns at Mix (predecessor to Rivea), John Dory at Twist along with the mushroom potato dish I had there in Feb.

Sea Bass with delicate spices at Guy Savoy. Lionfish at the late, lamented American Fish in the Aria. Also late and lamented, the warm grape salad at Yonaka Modern Japanese Cuisine. The single scallop and the agedashi tofu at Raku. A lot of great food at Le Cirque. I regret not having the langostine fritters at Atelier and the truffled maitaki at Bar Masa on my most recent trip, but will have them again next trip. I always have lunch at Milos and will continue to do so, but my favourite vegetarian baked crepes at the Eiffel Tower is now off the menu so I won't go there again.

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@C Simril I ate the langostine fritter at Atelier 8 years ago! Wow, jog through memory lane, I had to go back to my long-defunct blog to find it.

 

vegas+036.JPG

 

I've got reservations for Yonaka in May, they went to kaiseki-style dining only. I love that place, I will do a full write up after my visit. I hope the recent bad reviews are false.

I'm going to Milos on my birthday later this month.

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Posted (edited)

Here's my list, aka Restaurants On Smokeydoke's Regular Rotation:

 

Fine Dining (or my definition of fine dining, which is anyplace over $100pp and you'll feel funny wearing shorts)

Bazaar Meat

Estiatorio Milos

Yonaka

Harvest by Roy Ellamar

 

Foodie Destinations (not exactly fine dining, but you have to be willing to spend some to get good food)

Momofuku

Sparrow & Wolf (I wasn't crazy about this place after my first visit, but it showed promise, and definitely a place I want to support)

Gordon Ramsey Burger

Chada Thai and Wine

Pub 1842

Hobak Korean BBQ

 

Casual

The Great Greek

Pizza Rock or Little Tony's

Penn's Thai

Asian BBQ and Noodle

YuXiang

 

Bakery

Suzuya

 

Places you'll never see Smokeydoke at:

Palace Station Oyster Bar

Hotel Buffets

Strip Steak Houses (this is more personal preference than anything)

Yardbird

Carbone (again, a personal preference thing, there's devoted fans)

Any place inside Caesar Forum shops

Giada


Edited by Smokeydoke (log)
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You should try Lotus of Siam 

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1 minute ago, Honkman said:

You should try Lotus of Siam 

 

I've been to LoS many times, I no longer go, because... of the tourists.

 

I go to Chada to get my Thai fix, or Arawan, or just good old Thai Food To Go for a cheap, quick meal. I only go to LoS when an out-of-towner asks to go, and that's been awhile.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Smokeydoke said:

 

I've been to LoS many times, I no longer go, because... of the tourists.

 

I go to Chada to get my Thai fix, or Arawan, or just good old Thai Food To Go for a cheap, quick meal. I only go to LoS when an out-of-towner asks to go, and that's been awhile.

 

There might be more tourists than at other Thai places but the food is much, much better compared to Chada. Now living on the east coast LOS is actually one of the restaurants I really miss from LV visits. It is one of the best Thai restaurants in the US


Edited by Honkman (log)

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I share your fondness for Milos, Yonaka and Andre's beef. I don't think I've visited any other restaurant on your list.

 

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Posted (edited)

@Honkman I respectfully disagree, I think LoS has been blown out of proportion because of TV specials, James Beard, Chowhound and tourists, Chada is an excellent Thai restaurant as is Arawan and Penn's Thai. I admit, I enjoy LoS but it has become a hassle and as a result of the hype, price has been inflated. It is a shame because I remember years ago, like over a decade ago, it was a local gem. As is life, I wish them well and I'm happy for their success.

 

@C Simril I don't go to Strip restaurants often and honestly, I don't go to the ones you mentioned. Most of them were one and done deals for me. I live in Las Vegas, so my list is from a PoV from a local. Oh, who am I kidding? My husband lives for Buffet @ Asia and my co-worker just told me that Metro Pizza is the best pizza in the world. O.o

To each their own.

 


Edited by Smokeydoke (log)

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