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my vegas report

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my vegas report

ted | Feb 4, 2002 05:16 PM

Just thought I'd post about my experiences in LV and southern Utah last week. Thanks to you 'hounds for providing research fodder in advance.

We wandered about before our first dinner, and ended up at a bar in Bellagio called Nectar. It was right at the outskirts of the casino by the mall. The décor was funky, and my blue-label Chimay was only $6. Great people-watching, too.

Our first meal out was at Lotus of Siam. We started with the rice and sour sausage, which at a 6/10 in hotness was the hottest thing I've eaten in recent memory. And there was nothing in sight to quench the heat, either. I really enjoyed it, but my wife thought it was too heavy. Next, we had chicken coconut soup, which was as good as any we've had in Atlanta, though slightly different in that it had a significant amount of lime juice in it, in addition to the lime leaves.

For entrees, we had chicken panang and catfish with basil and chiles. The chicken was very good, and included dark meat (in Atlanta, you get mostly white). My wife found some gristle that she wasn't too excited about. The catfish was a disappointment- the thin pieces were fried and overcooked to almost chewiness. We left wishing we'd read the reviews by the door and ordered more northern Thai dishes (whole catfish, papaya salad), but I'd say that overall we were disappointed. Our experience in Atlanta (at Tamarind and Thai Chili in particular) is that the food, presentation, and atmosphere are consistently a notch higher. Once again, I hesitate a little bit because we missed their apparent specialties, but that wouldn't change the latter two concerns.

The next night we had an amazing dinner at Nobu. I’m having a hard time remembering all of the dishes, admittedly in part due to the junmai daiginjo sake. We had broiled cod w/ miso, marinated hamachi (new style sashimi, I believe), whitefish w/ ponzu, squid ‘pasta,’ creamy spicy crab, and ridiculously expensive toro. For dessert, we had the bento box with the green tea ice cream and molten chocolate cake accompanied by the raspberry-infused sake. I’m determined now to infuse a bottle of sake myself. Service was excellent and very attentive.

The following evening, we went to Lindo Michoacan. I had the birria de chivo, and my wife and her boss had the carnitas. The birria was excellent, and the carnitas were tasty too, though they weren’t shredded, which is how I’m used to seeing them. The fresh tortillas were good, though we have thick and chewy ones that I prefer at Taco Cabana in Atlanta (don’t laugh, it’s true).

Somewhere in there, I was running around during the day and had a very good Vietnamese sandwich from a shop on Spring Mtn. Road. I forget the name, but it was across from the Tea Planet and across the parking lot from the ‘Leatherneck Bar,’ an apparent USMC hangout. This sandwich differed from others I’ve had in that the roast pork was sliced off a larger cut, rather than being smaller, sate-sized pieces.

And then we went to Kathy’s in Henderson. The funny thing is that we went to the Ethel M chocolate factory across the street first, and the folks in their store knew nothing about the restaurant, which was all of 100 yards away. Between us, we had fried catfish and smothered chicken. Wow. Both were perfectly prepared. With these, we both had mac and cheese and greens. We tend to prefer eggy, baked mac and cheese, but this was good. And I found it odd that they didn’t have any tartar sauce to go with the fish, but I survived without it.

Afterwards, in preparation for a show at the House of Blues, we had a couple of cocktails at rumjungle. What a trippy place to have a drink. Excellent mojito. Definitely glad we were there early after seeing the line after the show.

Had a couple of doughnuts at LaMar’s on Flamingo. The old-fashioned sour cream and blueberry were very good. Can’t see how someone would say a Krispy Kreme glazed was excessively sweet by comparison to the sour cream one, though. I like both.

Now, not to bury the lead, but the most surprising food experience of our trip was in Utah. We spent a couple of days around Zion National Park and were blown away by the Bit & Spur in Springdale. We ate there both nights and our jaws still haven’t fully climbed off the floor. The first night I had perfectly cooked pork chops, and she had sour cream enchiladas. Both came with a salad topped with a wonderful avocado dressing. The second night was even better. She had sweet potato and corn tamales topped with (this time shredded) carnitas, and I had a poblano stuffed with mushrooms and what appeared to be cubes of polenta (tamale stuffing?). This time my salad had a simple balsamic vinaigrette. We never made it to the apple crisp and homemade ice cream.

Our stay at the Desert Pearl Inn was memorable, too. They’ve just refurbished, and the room was quite nice and had a great view. See the link below.

On our way back into LV for our flight out, we ate lunch at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris. Our shrimp remoulade salad and london broil sandwich were good and reasonable. We seriously considered giving Lotus of Siam another try, but decided for variety in the end.

Link: http://www.desertpearl.com

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