Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Las Vegas Food (VegasSummer 09, food)

Taking a break from the poker posts, here's a post about some more of the food from my trip to Vegas. This post will talk about one dinner outing and all the other non-event dining I did when I was out there.

Musashi Japanese Steakhouse

I'm always in search of good teppanyaki (frequently called hibachi cooking in the US). In fact, last time I was in Hong Kong I specifically went looking for a decent one. The problem is that teppanyaki in the US almost always seems to end up with Benihana and that is meh at best. So when I heard about this place on some travel channel show, I knew I wanted to try it when I was out in Vegas.

It's located in some strip mall behind the Flamingo. Strangely enough, within the same block are locations of three of the more prominent US steakhouse chains, Morton's, Ruth's Chris, and Smith & Wollensky. The place is divided into two sections, a restaurant with a sushi bar on one side and the teppanyaki grills on the other. There was a foul stench as we entered the restaurant, something like a burst sewer pipe, but luckily it did not permeate into the teppanyaki room.

Their main attraction is Kobe beef, which they advertise as being the only Kobe beef in Las Vegas actually from Japan. I assume this just means that they don't go through a US supplier. A 4oz portion cost $85 while a 9oz portion cost $135, so I went for the 9oz portion. After I asked them to bring out the meat for a look, three other diners (including the friend I was eating with) opted for the Kobe as well. The food and the sauces were very good. I'm not big on the show aspect of teppanyaki, which is more of a big deal here in the US than, say, in HK, but he did some entertaining tricks. Since teppanyaki is a communal experience, it helped that our fellow diners were very friendly. The fried rice was also very good, and while the prices didn't look cheap, the portions were generous. There are supposed to be a couple of other good teppanyaki places in Vegas, but they're mostly in hotels with a higher price tag while this place has more locals dining.

Burger Bar

Located in the Mandalay Bay shopping center, this burger-centric restaurant was created by Hubert Keller, owner-chef of Fleur de Lys in San Francisco and the first week winner of Bravo's Top Chef Masters. The highest priced item on the menu was a $60 burger with American wagyu meat, foie gras, perigord truffle sauce, and slices of black truffles. I opted to create the same burger without the slices of truffles, for about $34. It was very good for the first few bites but then just got boring very quickly. The truffle sauce was the real deal although it cost $5. The foie gras wasn't bad but wasn't particularly great. The burger was not particularly flavorful, though that could have been from being overshadowed by the other add-ons. We also had an order of sliders, which I really thought were flavorless, with a bread (I say bread, not bun) that just did not work for me at all. I also had a shake which was good and not too sweet. Overall, the burgers weren't great despite the generally favorable reviews and I'm beginning to doubt all this West Coast love for In-N-Out. The other thing of note was that of the topping options, there was only crispy bacon, no slab bacon.

The Buffet at the Palms

We ate there for lunch after getting tickets for the IMAX Transformers 2. I kind of knew what to expect given the $11 price, but it was just bad. The options were very limited and nothing looked particularly pleasing. The carving station was actually carving corned beef (instead of some type of roast beef or prime rib) and yet still served au jus with it. The dough in the pizza was horrendous. I mostly ate salad and pasta. Stuff that I almost never eat at a buffet.

The Buffet at the Bellagio

I'd been there before for lunch and was not impressed, but I'd heard that dinner was much better, although $35 is definitely not cheap for a buffet in the US. Went after the crab legs to start, but there wasn't much flavor or sweetness to them. My guess is that they'd been too frozen, and that since everyone ate them with drawn butter, many people probably didn't mind. The selection was pretty good, with 4 different meats on offer at the carving station, although the lamb that I got was also pretty tasteless. The only thing that I really liked was the made to order spicy tuna hand roll. Crisp nori covered a spicy tuna mix that was not heavy on the mayo. The only other good part of the buffet was that I discovered that chilled smoked salmon with room temperature/warm drawn butter and a squeeze of lemon is an amazing combination. Maybe I'm just spoiled by amazing US$50+ buffets all over Hong Kong.

Silverado Steakhouse at South Point

Nothing special although I only ordered the prime rib. Everything was USDA prime and dry-aged, but not particularly flavorful. A nice touch was that even the house salad was mixed at the table. Good pretzel bread in the bread basket. Wouldn't be a steakhouse that I purposely visit, but I can't complain too much since this meal ended up being comped.

Hot Dogs at South Point

In the sportsbook at South Point, there's a little hot dog stand that's open till about 10pm. It serves all-beef hot dogs that are about the size of what they call a sausage at most NYC dirty water hot dog carts. Topping choices include ketchup, mustard, raw diced onion, and relish. They were really good and really convenient being about 2 steps away from the poker room. They were also a fantastic deal at 75 cents each.

Oyster Bar at South Point

I will explain my comp situation in a later post about the two hotel casinos that I stayed in, but for now, just know that I was comped two $50 meals at this Oyster Bar, one for lunch and one for dinner. The comp wasn't for $50 as much as an app and an entree and two drinks and the server just pointed me in the direction of the most expensive things on the menu. For lunch, I had the jumbo shrimp cocktail and their version of a cioppino, which was a seafood mix (with lobster) over a soupy tomato base with linguine served in a bowl. The cioppino was actually quite good in that none of the seafood managed to get overcooked and it was just a nice simple rustic taste. The jumbo shrimp cocktail were really jumbo, looking to be about 5.5 inches spread out. Those were so good that when I went back for dinner, I ended up having another two orders. For dinner, I had more of that shrimp and a dozen oysters. While the oysters were very meaty, I found them to be lacking in flavor, and almost a chore to finish.

Noodles at Bellagio

I enjoyed Noodles the last time I stayed at the Bellagio, but I'd heard that they changed the head chef since my last visit. With two $90 comps, there was a lot of ordering, a lot of eating, and a lot of taking away, back to my hotel room and even onto the plane. I had the Hainanese chicken which was good, probably more so because I miss it than it being a superior version of the dish. I had some fermented eggs (the century eggs as people like to call them) which were nice, as well as a Cantonese-style roast duck and wonton noodle soup at the recommendation of the floor guy who wrote my comps. That was really good in that they were the best wontons I've had in the US. For the dishes that I took away however, it seemed like there wasn't much care put into the cooking. I ordered water spinach and chinese broccoli with garlic twice, and every time it seemed like they were just simply blanched. I also ordered the crab meat with XO sauce over rice noodles, with extra XO sauce one time, and both times there really wasn't much in the way of XO sauce.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

arghhhhhh reading this is torture!!!