First a big thanks for chowhounders for all recommendations. Would have never known about many of these places.
1) Hamada of Japan. Not the most chowhoundy start. We checked into Luxor a bit after 1 pm having just arrived on a long flight from the chilly East Coast, we saw the nice pool area on a warm sunny day. But we needed a quick bite to eat first (and didnt have time to run over to someplace like wichcraft at the MGM) but I remembered that Hamada is there at Luxor (and there's really nothing else at Luxor). To me sushi is the ultimate fast food sit down at the bar, order some miso soup and 8 or so pieces of sushi, a little cold saki 15 minutes later youre fed, happy and gone. The sushi we had yellowtail, octopus, anago and spider roll was terrific with fresh, thick slices of fish. I know Hamada hasnt been recommended much, but I found it worked quite well in a pinch.
Dinner was at a convention. 'nuf said.
2. Lotus of Siam. Next morning I used the spa / gym light breakfast there of fresh fruit, yogurt, muffin. Had to save room for the main event: Lunch at Lotus of Siam. I arrived just before opening time of 11:30 a.m. two others waiting out front. The staff opened the doors at 11:25 and by noon it was packed. My waiter suggested that I order the buffet which I noticed every other customer did at lunch but there were certain items off the menu I wanted to try those that had left my mouth watering from reading the many LoS tales here on chowhound. So I had the nam kao tod (sausage and crispy rice salad); and then fried whole pompano fish with chili garlic sauce. They were both excellent I can still taste the salad. What surprised me that despite a good dose of cilantro on the salad and I cant stand cilantro for some reason it really worked well.
Note for other visitors to Vegas, I found it easy to take the Monorail (which I understand is relatively new) to the northern terminus at the Sahara. Its then a mile or so walk down East Sahara Avenue to the Commercial Center and LoS. Not the nicest walk, mind you lots of gas stations, cash-your-paycheck-today services, a strip joint or two. And after that meal, I needed the walk back!
3. r.bar.cafe. For dinner we decided to try the r.bar.cafe in Mandalay Bay (its downstairs from RM Seafood). We loved it. Six types of oysters available we opted for Left Coast ones we normally dont see here on the East Coast: Sunset Bay and Skookum from Washington and wonderful little Kumamotos from California. They were delicious but quite expensive ($15 for a half dozen). For my entrée I had a grilled branzino over a bed of artichokes; my companion a seafood pasta with loads of scallops, mussels and nice chunks of lobster. Opted for a bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc (twist-off cap, of course!) with nice grapefruit tones. Another highlight was the bread basket really good biscuits and corn bread.
4. Border Cafe. We moved over to Mandalay for the rest of the trip (best pool area in town!). Breakfast again at the spa; morning at the pool. Just wanted a light lunch so we hit the Border Café. The bar side of the café offers a small menu we had fish tacos (grilled red snapper) and a pulled BBQ chicken quesadilla. Very good stuff the slaw they use with the fish was crispy and refreshing and the portions were just right. p.s. -- they make all their flour and corn tortillas there behind the bar was fun watching them roll 'em out and cook 'em on the griddle.
5 MIX. Dinner that night at MIX it was the highlight of the trip (well, very expensive highlight of the trip!) We got off to a bit of an off-putting start when the maitred and receptionist took a good 10-15 minutes to try to find us a table but failed to communicate with us, whispering into their little headsets. A friendly "Please give us a few minutes ... feel free to check out the view from the lounge area ..." would have helped. However, once seated, the waitress and the sommelier couldnt have been more helpful or nicer. Many of the dishes on the menu were created for the Vegas restaurant itself but a portion are Ducasse standards from his Paris restaurant. Starters: mine: kampachi carpaccio (very nice firm white fish with a great citrusy dressing and the cutest little capers Ive ever seen); theirs: shrimp cocktail with homemade ketchup (called here spicy tomato syrup); lobster salad Entrees:; mine: Duck breast with figs (perfectly done with crispy skin by pink inside); theirs: Filet mignon with fois gras and black truffle; seared ahi tuna. My friends each declared theirs to be excellent. The wine list was extensive and had a reasonable price range. We had a $40 bottle of Australia Grenache. I know chowhound is about food but the décor was fantastic, the view of the Strip even better (they have outside seating on their terrace) and make sure to check out the windows and view in the lounge bathrooms!
7. r.bar. Next day more pool and spa in the a.m. Again wanted a light lunch, so again headed to r.bar cant get enough oysters (despite the price). During the a.m. at the pool we discussed where we should eat that evening but because it was Saturday, we were too late to get reservations for most places (we called N9NE, Mesa Grill, Mon Amie Gabi ) and we really didnt want to break the bank.
8. The solution: El Rincon de Buenos Aires. Im a huge fan of Argentine food and had read some good things about Rincon here on chowhound. It was great the owner/waiter was friendly and funny. A plate of hot chicken empanadas arrived at the table along with bottles of cold Quilmes beer. We then had proveletta (grilled herbed provolone cheese) Yum! And then shared a parrillada for three: short ribs, flank steak and sirloin (adding a blood sausage and sweetbread to the mix). Nicely done. We split an alfajor (a cookie with dulce de leche filling) for dessert. And then I stocked up on a few Argentine items from the deli and shelves before leaving. Very easy and short cab ride to and from the Strip.
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