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When going to Las Vegas, I always do a check for Dave Feldman recommendations. So I ended up in:
Chengdu Taste. Best wontons ever. I'm a sucker for wontons in red chile oil. I order them every chance I get. I crave them. These were outstanding: plump, meaty filling in a thin, silky wrapper. They offer a couple of different sauces, and being curious, I not only ordered the wontons in red chile oil but the wontons in green pepper sauce (described as "numbing spicy" suggesting the green peppers were Sichuan peppercorns). The waitress was surprised/amused that I ordered both, and I can understand why, as I believe that atypically, the red chile oil had Sichuan peppers as well. At any rate, my lips were well and truly numb. And the portions were generous, so that most of the "green pepper" wontons were packed to go. I wished I had dining companions so I could order more!
Pizzeria Monzu. The porchetta sandwich on the menu was calling me, so I headed there for lunch. The whole experience was outstanding. I sat at the bar and had an indepth conversation with the bartender about pretty much everything. When I asked about iced tea, he offered me an unsweetened blood orange oolong and we had a lovely discussion about tea. It's always a pleasure to meet someone who is so dedicated and enthusiastic about expanding his knowledge. The sandwich (with truffle fries) was greasy, porky goodness just barely held together with what was probably a split open slab of pizza crust. I was so enthralled that I went back for brunch and had the apricot pizza, which was also delicious. An acoustic guitarist showed up, adding to the already welcoming ambiance. I have an excellent pizza, etc. restaurant on my corner, and I still wanted to take Pizzeria Monzu home with me. Why it was mostly empty for Sunday brunch is a total mystery.
Sparrow + Wolf. Since foie gras is banned in California, I try to indulge when I travel, and Sparrow + Wolf seemed like a good option. I was sad that they did not have it on the menu, but bruleed foie gras was a daily special, so I lucked out. I also was drawn by the Beet and Green Apple tartare. The flavor combinations were incredibly well thought out. The foie came with roasted figs and miso buerre blanc. I'm not usually a fan of figs (too cloying) or miso (too salty), but together those annoying qualities cancelled each other out. The tartare also included finely diced ginger (hello, lets just take several of Ruth's favorite things and put them all together!) and each bite had a slightly different balance of flavors. A dessert of crullers with black sesame and some other ingredients was similarly successful. Service was excellent: my server brought me samples of the two wines by the glass I was considering and was otherwise on the spot. Prices were reasonable (at least by San Francisco Bay Area standards). If this restaurant were anywhere near me I'd be a regular.
I will say, though, that I was still a little hungry, so I walked a couple of doors down to Lamaii. Beautiful restaurant, lovely people. I had the grilled pig jowl (more greasy, porky goodness!) and a really excellent riesling.
Okay, so where did I go that was NOT recommended by Dave Feldman.
Buffets. Dragged by people I was socializing with. Luxor (terrible and expensive, also almost completely deserted on Friday at dinner time), Orleans (slightly less terrible and expensive).
Jinju (southwest Las Vegas). Lovely little bonbons, and not insanely expensive (they were having a sale, so they were $1/each, I think she said they were usually $1.75).
Jean-Marie Auboine Chocolatier FACTORY SHOP (just west of the South Strip). A factory with a display/sales room. Lots of tempting (but expensive) treats, including jams, chocolate infused teas, and non-chocolate items.
Due to a rather unpleasant incident that resulted in my hotel stay being comped, I indulged. Both recommended if you are into pretty bonbons with interesting flavor combinations, although it should be noted that Jinju is way off the beaten path.
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