Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rest of the Las Vegas Trip (food, gambling, VegasSummer10)

I felt that Musashi deserved it's own blog post, but the rest of the trip was not as eventful. Did not have much luck at the tables, and almost tilted away the hard work I'd been putting in on online poker (which I'll talk about in a future post). There were some bright spots though, so let's get to that.

After getting there Friday night, we started off with the Bellagio buffet. It's not cheap at almost $40, but there's a lot on offer. For my first plate, I went with crab legs, spicy tuna roll, smoked salmon, and a salmon pastry thing. They had two types of crab legs, Opilio and Alaskan, but neither of them really had that sweetness that I look for in crab. I love the spicy tuna roll there. There's no or very little mayo in the mix and it has a nice slow burn. The smoked salmon was good, and I love the combination of smoked salmon and drawn butter.

The second plate was meats and sides. Slice of kobe top sirloin was mediocre at best, but the one bite with fat was very tasty. Beef wellington was ok, but the grilled quail was quite nice. Creamed spinach, potatoes au gratin, and fingerling potatoes were as expected.

The third plate is more of a catch-all. Another spicy tuna roll, some salmon nigiri, some ham and pineapple pizza just to try, some shrimp cocktail, some california rolls made with real crab, and lobster ravioli. The lobster ravioli was surprisingly good, with a good amount of lobster meat.

After the buffet, we hit the tables and I showed my friend how to play pai gow tiles. It's a great game and he had a good time learning. We had a fun dealer and sat for a long time having drinks. I strongly suggest people who have had experience with pai gow poker (with cards) give it a try. There's a lot of good info here.

Saturday was more of the same with food, drinking, gambling, and that wonderful teppanyaki dinner. After the dinner, we caught the 10pm showing of O from amazing seats. Lowest level, 12 rows back, dead center.

They don't allow photos for obvious reasons, but I snapped this one of the clowns walking right in front of us before the show started.

The rest of the time, we ate dim sum at Noodles restaurant in the Bellagio, thanks to a generous comp from our pai gow floor guy. Pictured here clockwise from the top right are the har gau (shrimp dumplings), steamed pork spare ribs, siu mai (called shumai in American Chinese food speak), and zhan zhu gai ("pearl chicken" - glutinous rice filled with meat and sausage wrapped in lotus leaf and steamed). My friend BM was especially taken with the pearl chicken, which does provide flavors and textures that most Americans don't come across.

On the last night, after watching the World Cup final and having more dim sum, I discovered Blackjack Switch. I'm usually not a big blackjack fan. The swings are too quick, everyone (should) plays basic strategy, and I don't even get to touch the cards if I'm playing small stakes. Blackjack switch is a lot more fun, and even though the numbers are much more complicated, it's even a slightly smaller house edge than regular blackjack according to the Wizard of Odds. As for the basics of the game. The bad news is that if the dealer has 22, it's a push and blackjacks pay even money. Sounds pretty bad right? Here's the good news. Every player must play two hands, and after the first two cards are dealt, they have the option to switch the second card of the two hands. So if you were dealt 10-5 on your first hand, and 6-J on your second hand, you can switch the cards to end up with a 20 and a 11. This leads to more decisions (when to switch) and makes the game more fun for me.

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