LOTUS OF SIAM
I don't claim to know if this is the best Thai restaurant in the U.S., but this was a notch above the best places I've been to in the Bay Area. Having failed to make a dinner reservation, we got there around 2pm on a Friday and hurried to place our orders before the kitchen closed. Nam kao tod (crispy rice with minced sausage) had very bright flavour. Chicken wings were fried immaculately. Khao soi noodles had an intense coconut milk sauce. Panang pompano and especially hoh mok catfish were the best Thai fish dishes I've had by some margin. I even thought our veggie friend Dave's pad thai was tasty.
Next time we'll order it spicier: this time we asked for something like "spicy by American standards", forgetting that the Bay Area spice standards are hotter than in most of the U.S. Otherwise, grand.
For dinner, we tried to get to Paradise Grill, the Peruvian place we read about on this board, but by 8:30 their kitchen was closed. This was our second choice, since we don't have much Cuban around Berkeley. In general, we thought the sandwiches were excellent; everything else, not so much. Meats that were dry and tasteless outside two slices of bread were tender and satisfying between them. My Cubano was well-constructed and well-seasoned, though the accompanying fries were just OK. Still, the sandwiches are a good on-strip cheap eat option.
No, none of us could afford kobe or foie or truffles, but we all liked our burgers. The meat quality wasn't quite as good as some Bay Area burgers I've had. But they cooked everything to specifications -- my medium-rare was indeed medium-rare -- and I was glad to have simple sesame as my bun option. Fries were flawless. It seems so simple, but then why can't everyone get this right?
What they didn't get right: the atmosphere and noise level were pretty annoying. If you're going for the faux-sportsbar feel, at least keep your NCAA tournament brackets up to date.
At $38 on weekends, not quite worth it, but not that far off. A decent proportion of diners were returning to their tables with huge piles of Alaskan crab legs, and with good reason. The rest of the seafood was also excellent, particularly the jumbo shrimp. Red meats were pretty good: I liked the prime rib a lot, though others thought it too rare and/or fatty, preferring the lamb dishes (rack and leg). I thought the salads were better than the cooked vegetables. Desserts were poor: I found only the ice cream to be passable.
Best strategy might just be to grab what's been freshly cut.
There must be places in Vegas that'll serve you a large, well-made Sunday brunch without the half hour wait we had here -- which, thanks to the multiplicative powers of I-15 traffic, probably delayed our arrival home a hour and a half. Still, the queue aside, there was little to fault. My bacon and eggs were very satisfying, and the third of someone's Joe's Special I ended up having was nearly as good. Coffee was drinkable, near Starbucks quality (that's sort of a compliment).
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