Just got back from a quick trip for my birthday, with some very good experiences.
We had a quick lunch at Culinary Dropout at the Hard Rock Hotel. Very good diner-type food, we enjoyed the soft pretzel bites with cheese fondue, my burger was very tasty with good bacon and crisp fries.
That same night we met a friend at Lotus of Siam for dinner, and had a wonderful feast including the nam kao tod, beef jerky, tamarind beef, crispy duck on drunken boat noodles, the green chili dip, and the catfish salad. A bottle of crisp, cold Riesling complemented everything very well.
We were determined for further adventure, and made our way over to Sweets Raku. After blundering around the strip mall (it doesn't have an obvious sign) we found the bright, clean bar and someone was nice enough to move over a stool so we could all sit down at the bar right away.
I was completely blown away by the Sweets Raku experience - I enjoy desserts and sweets, but I was not aware how artful and graceful just watching Mio put together each element was going to be. We had three different main desserts and the wine pairings, and got a fourth dessert ala carte so we could try an extra one.
Little touches like the edible menus and well-chosen wines really amplified the surreal enjoyment of the desserts. We each started with an amuse of orange sorbet with a red wine jelly.
I don't remember all of the disparate elements that went into each dessert, but it was so fun watching her assemble and sculpt all of the different items. One of the offerings, a Coconut Panna Cotta served in a large stemmed glass, had what seemed to be 12 different steps.
I don't recall all of the proper names, but we had the Strawberry Tiramisu, Raspberry Fondant, Chocolate Mousse, and Coconut Panna Cotta offerings, though each one had lots of complex flavors and beautiful details. The tiramisu came with a gorgeous strawberry sorbet and artfully arranged fruits. The chocolate mousse came inside a tall, delicate chocolate cookie cylinder.
The panna cotta was presented in a striking way - after putting several elements in a specific order into the glass on top of the panna cotta - making what almost seemed to be a miniature terrarium - she topped the glass with a flat disk, then our server poured a sauce onto the disk, which immediately dissolved it.
I should add that all of these desserts were utterly delicious as well as beautiful and artful. The wine pairings were also excellent, the chocolate mousse came with a port that only deepened and highlighted the flavors.
The 'petit fours' course was a cream puff, with your choice of custard and jam flavors. The pastry part was the lightest I have ever experienced, way better than Beard Papa.
For $19 each, this had to be one of the most amazing food experiences of my life. We wanted to go back the next night, but they are closed on Wednesdays. Still, we are plotting our next trip out there just to get more Sweets Raku.
Wednesday we had a somewhat disappointing breakfast at Society Cafe at the Encore - somewhat inattentive staff, my steak and egg sliders were okay, but they totally botched my wife's scrambled eggs.
We spent a good part of the day at Fashion Show Mall, and stopped into the Grimaldi's Pizza for a quick lunch. The pizza was very good, especially the one we requested to have 'well done' - the crust had a nice bubble and char, and the pepperoni on it was stick-cut and spicy.
Dinner at Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris was very impressive and showy, with loud music, fancy preparations and good flavors. I enjoyed my pork belly appetizer, and while my companions enjoyed their caesar salads, nobody wanted the miniature scotch eggs that came with - I liked them, though, I think they were quail eggs.
My wife insisted on the ribeye cap, but I was intrigued by the salt-aged and Pat LaFrieda - selected bone-in ribeye. We got sides of the mac and cheese, crispy roasted fingerlings and brussels sprouts.
My steak turned out to be good, but a bit fatty - my wife's was much better. The sides were good, though the sprouts were very burnt-tasting (delicious, but very sulfurous). We were way too full to have dessert, unfortunately.
I definitely want to repeat the combo of Lotus of Siam and Sweets Raku (or try Raku next time for dinner). I hope Sweets keeps up the amazing work, and I can't wait to go back!