Upcoming Vegas Trip - Aria restaurants, Raku...

Traveling and dining in other Arizona cities and beyond
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Dapuma
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Vdarra is by the Cosmopolitan for Chandalier Bar and also by Mandarin Oriental which has an great cocktail lounge (which is a tea lounge during the day) with amazing views of the city, they will probably have live music of some sort, certainly worth checking both out

Those are the only two places I could say for certain you could get a good craft cocktail in Vegas

Oh if you were getting apps and drinks at Sage prior to going out, that wouldn't be a bad idea, they make a solid cocktail, not going to be reinventing the wheel there but they do the classics well
M_L
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I was in Vegas this weekend and we stayed at MGM I walked by the Robuchon resturants and despite being UP I was not that far up that I could go crazy in one of them. Ended up at CraftSteak before I flew out and that was an excellent choice. The Turnip sides they have going right now are easily the best of have ever had. In fact pretty much every side there is stupefying though I was not wowed by the grits (and I like grits).
(Also their Lemonaid was awesome, not the best ever but far superior to most places, and they left simple syrup on the table so I could get wound up by having an insane amout of sugar in it.)

Also went to WitchCraft for lunch since again we pretty much never left MGM and it was a darn fine sandwich.
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Pato
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Met some friends for March Madness and had a lot of trouble recruiting them away from a sportsbook or a blackjack table. My one success was The Oyster Bar at The Palace Station. It is off the strip and a ways north. It is open all night every night and is worth looking into. We went really late and there was just a short wait. This place is really worth looking into. The next time I am in Vegas I am going multiple times. Awesome seafood. The pan roasts are nuts. Really a cool place. The Palace Station is a bit sketchy, but The Oyster Bar is not. If The Oyster Bar was in PHX I would go weekly.

The Oyster Bar
Palace Station Hotel & Casino
2418 W Sahara Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Always Open
PHXeater
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I wasn't in Vegas last weekend but my boyfriend went with friends for March Madness, wow what a sausage fest that weekend sounds like ;). He and some friends went to Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris and he was surprisingly impressed. Said the service wasn't quite as good as SW Steak (our favorite) but his ribeye cap was one of the best steaks he's had - he even sent a picture to me and he's not a picture taker. Also, the sticky toffee pudding was apparently best dessert of the past year for him. We're heading back for a night in May on the way to a friends wedding (it actually is saving us some money on flights) and it's on our short list for dinners. By short list I mean out of 10 places, always so hard to narrow down places in Vegas!

CelticBella also reviewed in this separate thread: http://phxfoodnerds.com/viewtopic.php?f ... rdon#p3641
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Christina
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Meleyna, you're in walking distance of my favorite bar - Vesper in the Cosmopolitan. Everyone talks about the Chandelier bars because they are so pretty (my favorite is the middle floor). Definitely worth a visit also, but I LOVE Vesper for craft cocktails. It's off the lobby. Some also like Bond in the Cosmo, but I thought it was just OK. Favorite off-strip bar is Herbs and Rye.

Vesper cocktails on last visit:
Corpse Bride, a take on the Corpse Reviver with Bols Genever, Aperol, lemon, strawberry rhubarb syrup, and an absinthe sphere.

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I asked for a Japanese whiskey cocktail and Chris whipped this up (Yamazaki 12 Year Single Malt Japanese Whisky with Carpano Antica, Amaro Meletti, Fee whiskey barrel-aged bitters, and Bitter End Thai bitters)

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One Night in Bangkok with Tanqueray Rangpur gin, St. George Aqua Perfecta Basil Eau-de-Vie, lime juice, coconut cream, kaffir leaves, egg whites.

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Heading to Vegas tomorrow and first dinner is at at Voodoo Steak (I'm a huge fan of Honorio Mecinas, Chef Mel of Talavera's brother, who is the executive chef there). Scallop with orange and fennel fondue:

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The other two will be Scarpetta and a casual dinner at the bar at Bar Masa where one of my favorite Aria bartenders will be working. He says he has some new cocktails to show us he's created using AZ Bitters Lab bitters :D. Will be sticking around our hotel the whole time except for Voodoo. Not sure of the three lunches, but probably Comme Ca, China Poblano, and the Secret Pizza place (all at Cosmo).
sourcetags8codes
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Went to lv a few months ago and I've just grown tired of the strip. I checked out jaleo, blue ribbon, scarpetta, and after all of it, I really didn't know what to think. Maybe I'm not enthralled with that food anymore. If i had to eat on the strip with friends, I would take them to carnevino and just eat pasta. Can't really go wrong with that.

I did check out lotus of siam and i had the duck panang which was awesome.

I did however made it to Raku after an awesome bowl of ramen from monta next door.

Sorry for the tiny photos again

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Grilled pork cheek

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Hamachi collar

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Grilled Pig ear

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Grilled wagyu w/ garlic chips

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Chicken egg, uni, salmon roe

The pictures that didn't get taken were

Surf Clam
Chawanmushi
Grilled Beef Tounge

I really want to go back though and see more of the china town there.
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Skillet Doux
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Bump -- I'm off to Vegas in a week and a half for a trade show. Any recent intel that hasn't been posted?
Dominic Armato
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The Cosmic Jester
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I will do my utter damndest to be there around the same time as you, Dom. Doubt it's going to happen, but it would be awesome to get outta town for a bit.

Dom, remember, you still need to hit Viva Las Arepas. How many times have I told you now, and I know you haven't gone yet because you haven't come back as much of a raving lunatic about it as I am? ;-)

Anyway: I've been getting good intel about Fat Choy, a semi-new Asian/American hole-in-the-wall inside the Eureka Casino, a neighborhood slot joint on Sahara between the Strip and Lotus of Siam. My informant mentions the potstickers are especially memorable. If you happen to be there on a Sunday, get the Fat Benedict (Eggs Benedict with crispy pork belly instead of Canadian bacon), it's apparently freaking amazing.
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ScottofStrand
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I was in Vegas a few weeks ago, but I was with a group that wasn't super into food. I did manage to convince them to hit up Raku the first night, but we didn't get there until about 1:30am. I'm not sure if that changed the service or quality of the meal, because it didn't quite hit expectations. It was a good meal, but I don't really think it lived up to the high price tag. We opted for the $75 per person, with 5 people, and here's the lineup of what we received.
Fresh Tofu
Fresh Tofu
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Soft Shell Crab
Soft Shell Crab
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Crunchy Fried Asparagus
Crunchy Fried Asparagus
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Conch and other shellfish
Conch and other shellfish
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This dish grew on me, but at first it was a bit overwhelming in its deep shellfish flavor.
Sashimi
Sashimi
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Really well done Sashimi, and super high quality.
Grilled Tomatoes
Grilled Tomatoes
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Scallop
Scallop
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This was a standout. Perfect Scallop prepared in a sauce of its own juices
Whole Roasted Fish
Whole Roasted Fish
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Kobe with Wasabi
Kobe with Wasabi
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Kind of tough and overwhelmed with the flavor of the Wasabi, imho.
Raku Salmon Clay Pot
Raku Salmon Clay Pot
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Strawberry Dessert
Strawberry Dessert
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A nice way to end the meal, intense in its Strawberry flavor.

Looking bag, its a decent menu. I just really wanted a bunch of dishes that I would look back on as standouts and there were only a couple.

The places I enjoyed the most on my visit were the two bars we went to. Frankie's Tiki Lounge and Vesper Bar.
Tiki Drinks
Tiki Drinks
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This was my first real Tiki experience, and it blew my hair back. The drinks were sweet, but interesting and made with care. The atmosphere was what really sold me. Amazing paintings, sculptures and all sorts of lights and decorations really made it feel like this place was it's own little world away from everything else. Can't wait to go back for more.
Bartender at Vesper
Bartender at Vesper
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I forget this bartender's name, but he was a badass. His giant notebook had tons of his own recipes in it, and he tried a few out on us that he was going to take to competitions. We basically just gave him general guidelines and he delivered some killer cocktails.
Some sort of Rose and Citrus Egg White Charged ISI Foam over a Citrus Drink with a bruised Basil Leaf
Some sort of Rose and Citrus Egg White Charged ISI Foam over a Citrus Drink with a bruised Basil Leaf
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Something Scazerac-esque
Something Scazerac-esque
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Also visited on this trip, Anime Ramen(mediocre, wish I could have convinced my friends to hit Monta across the street instead) Flying Monkey Food Truck(Bulgogi Sandwich was pretty tasty) and Burgr, Ramsay's Burger Joint(Good burgers but better sides including Parmesan truffle fries, onion rings and steamed pork buns.)

Still on my "to-visit" list from chef Matt Taylor's recommendations- Monta, Honey Pig, Ichiza Japanese, Pho Kim Long and Tacos El Gordo for their Pastor.
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Skillet Doux
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Oh, man... huge bummer on Raku.

Yeah, Honey Pig's on my short list as well. Late hours should help, few late night companions might be an impediment :-/

Vesper. You and Christina... I need to get over there.

Wow! Hadn't heard of Tacos el Gordo, but the photos look like the real deal for al pastor. Heard anything on strip vs. downtown location?

Jester... Viva Las Arepas is on the short list! I think I haven't been since you told me about it, actually.
Dominic Armato
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The Cosmic Jester
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Every bar at The Cosmopolitan is a home run, from what I can tell. It depends on what you're in the mood to have. Vesper is certainly the showpiece. I'm fond of Book & Stage in the afternoon; it's sort of their chichi version of a neighborhood sports bar. Oh, if only every sports bar could be like this. The main AM bartender, Jenny, makes you feel like a long-time regular within seconds. If it's not too busy, ask if they have the ingredients and time to make you a Stunning Man. Also, while the video poker pay tables are literally some of the worst on the strip (7-5 Jacks or Better? Yikes!), the sting is lessened considerably by a comped bar tab if you play. I figure if I play a little slow but still blow $20 on Jacks or Better, I'll still have a $30 or $50 bar tab comped.

The 1.5 floor of The Chandelier is a hell of a lot of fun. It's where they do playful "molecular mixology" style stuff. Buzz button flowers and liquid nitrogen raspberries come into play, as do some other surprises.
PHXeater
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Skillet Doux wrote:
Wow! Hadn't heard of Tacos el Gordo, but the photos look like the real deal for al pastor. Heard anything on strip vs. downtown location?
I've only been to Strip location and it seemed like the real deal to me but both times it was very late at night and after many, many drinks at the tables...so I can only give a ringing endorsement if you're in the same situation :) .

Interesting on Raku. My meal there wasn't as much of a wow as others have been either. Very well executed definitely but just not the over the top, outstanding meal I had expected. Long wait times for food and slow service didn't help either (they were somewhat busy but I just have higher expectations when dropping a couple hundred for two people).
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thunes
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We actually did very well on video poker at one of the bars in Cosmopolitan. My husband hit two 4 of a kinds and two straight flushes. A guy next to him got a royal flush. We're loved our drinks, and we're looking forward to going back in a couple weeks.
sinosoul
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The Cosmic Jester wrote:Also, while the video poker pay tables are literally some of the worst on the strip (7-5 Jacks or Better? Yikes!), the sting is lessened considerably by a comped bar tab if you play. I figure if I play a little slow but still blow $20 on Jacks or Better, I'll still have a $30 or $50 bar tab comped.
thanks. genius, and well noted. beats the shitty rum n cokes @ the tables.
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The Cosmic Jester
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thunes wrote:We actually did very well on video poker at one of the bars in Cosmopolitan. My husband hit two 4 of a kinds and two straight flushes. A guy next to him got a royal flush. We're loved our drinks, and we're looking forward to going back in a couple weeks.
Lucky you. While the big wins are fun, they're a case of short-term anecdotal evidence versus long-term empirical evidence. You're going to have the same (1-in-40,000) odds of hitting a royal flush no matter where you play. The quality of video poker payouts aren't in the high-paying hands, but the middle ones, the ones you barely even think about.

On a Jacks or Better machine, the hands that usually change the payout are the full house and the flush. The best you can find is 9 for the full house and 6 for the flush, which (with perfect play; yes, there is a mathematically optimal way to play every single hand) gives a 99.54% return rate. Another way to say it is that on average, over the big long run, every $100 you play, the casino keeps 46¢. The Jacks or Better at Book & Stage pays 7 for the full house and 5 for the flush. This has a return rate of 96.15%, meaning the casino keeps $3.85 of every $100 you play.

Truly, the only reason I adore video poker at Book & Stage is because the drinks and service truly are terrific enough to keep me playing despite odds eight times worse than a good machine downtown.
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Skillet Doux
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Woo, buddy... managed to cram some pretty awesome eats into two and a half days. Getting right down to it, staring with the pricey/fancy and working towards the cheap/divey:

Nobu
First dinner with a client, so I... uh... spared him the camera. It seems like folks are tiring of Nobu's schtick, and it's true, not a damn thing has changed in 15 years, and the prices are absurd, particularly at the new Caesar's location. But y'know, I feel like some places have kind of earned their place in the pantheon of classics -- places that you're glad never change -- and for me, at least, Nobu belongs there, because I've had most of the dishes on this visit at least a dozen times already, but man, they're still so freaking good. Value on the sashimi starters are questionable (it's tough to get behind $28 for six slices of hamachi), but I love that Japanese/Peruvian treatment -- a little soy, a splash of yuzu, some cilantro or rocoto chile, bits of fried garlic -- this food holds up. Mains aren't quite as heart-stopping from a value standpoint, mainly because, good god, are they serving some massive pieces of fish. The sea bass is $42, but it wouldn't surprise me if that was 12 ounces of fish. Too much just for one, but perfect for sharing. And I always like to finish with a little nigiri here, which they nail. I dunno... it's a lot of money. But I avoided the absurdly priced items and we got out of there for a little over $100/head (pre tax and tip), and that netted us five sashimi plates, 5-6 hot dishes, and a small assortment of nigiri. I feel like that's not crazy, even if the guy's resting on his laurels. So long as the quality remains high -- and it does -- I kind of feel like he's earned it.

Carnevino
This has been one of the biggest Vegas mysteries in recent years. This is now the fourth consecutive outstanding meal we've had at Carnevino, meanwhile people I know and trust have had really bad/weird experiences in between. Which isn't to question their experiences at all -- I've heard stories and thought, "Oh, wow, that's terrible." -- but I don't know if I've had exceptionally good luck, or friends have had exceptionally bad luck, or what. All I know is that with the exception of an annoying server on one visit, my meals there have been invariably outstanding.

We had a pretty mean fried calamari, very lightly battered, beautifully tender, and plated with a very restrained amount of tomato and chile. I barely got a taste of the affettati misti, but the couple slices I snagged were mighty fine.
Grilled Octopus
Grilled Octopus
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This is one of my favorites every time. There are big, juicy, tender chunks of grilled octopus on top of a chilled octopus carpaccio, with some pickled veg that I think gets a hit of limoncello, and it's routinely one of my favorite octopus dishes anywhere.
Vitello Tonnato
Vitello Tonnato
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What I didn't know (and thankfully my father did) is that they do a vitello tonnato off-menu that's dynamite. This is such a fabulous dish. I have a weakness for vitello tonnato as it is, but this is such a smart repackaging, fancying it up for a high-end restaurant without losing the original dish. They plate it backwards -- the tuna sauce on the bottom and the chilled veal on top -- which makes for a prettier presentation. The capers are fried to a light crisp, which makes for a great textural hit, and they plate it with a crouton topped with some lightly dressed fresh herbs and an anchovy fillet. It's a seriously killer dish and a must if you're a fan of the standard.

I will say that my pasta on this pass -- beef agnolotti -- was the only one out of the six or seven I've tasted that wasn't excellent. But it was still mighty fine, and I figure that's a reasonable batting average.
Ribeye
Ribeye
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You can't argue with that. Gads, I love their beef here. The ribeye is normally a two-person affair, but they had a special on a single serving ribeye. Wow.

It's a big hit. But for me, four times running now, they're worth it. Given some of the stories I've heard, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop... but it doesn't drop.

RM Seafood
They've now converted the upstairs at RM Seafood into Rx Boiler Room (Rx = "Rick's"), which looks like a fusion Disneyfied steampunk nightmare -- as though Moonen wasn't a draw and somebody told him he had to do something hip and edgy and marketable or hit the bricks. But we didn't eat there so I'll refrain from further comment.

We did get lunch downstairs one day, and this was a targeted chilled seafood strike.
Chilled Seafood Sampler
Chilled Seafood Sampler
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If I could find a place that did chilled seafood like this really well and at a reasonable price, I'd be there every week. Flawless sourcing and prep, and the pricetag that accompanies a celebrity chef name. Which is to say that I wouldn't do this on a regular basis, but as a much needed chilled seafood fix, it's tough to beat.

Raku
Transitioning away from the megapricey, I'm SUPERBUMMED that a couple of you guys had lackluster experiences here. It's to the point where this is the only place in all of Las Vegas that I cannot miss when I come to town. It just blows me away every single time. I grabbed a seat at the counter at about 1:30 at night, and made a meal out of some small plates:
Poached Egg with Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe
Poached Egg with Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe
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You've got to be okay with the slippery and the slimy, but man, I adore this dish. He minces up some mountain yam and tosses it in a soy-spiked dashi with a poached egg, uni, salmon roe, a few slices of raw okra, and nameko mushrooms, which get kind of slimy when you boil them. You mix the whole thing up, and it's this kind of slimy umami soup (I should work sales, I know) with a little crunch from the yam and okra, and the little briny pop of salmon roe. Man, I love this dish.
Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard (Chawanmushi)
Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard (Chawanmushi)
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That's actually a slice of duck breast on top -- the foie is in the custard, and it's pretty subtle. This isn't a foie bomb. But it's a really good chawanmushi.
Grilled Pork Cheek
Grilled Pork Cheek
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This has that almost chewy texture that pork cheek has, and it's so beautifully grilled. The first bite was great. Then I thought a little bit of salt would be good, so I added a dash of their house salt, which is spiked with green tea and powdered shiitake. AND THE SKIES OPENED UP. Killer bite.
Agedashi Tofu
Agedashi Tofu
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I was never a big agedashi tofu guy. For a long time. Had only had it once or twice. And I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't fully appreciate this the first time I had it. But I've made a point of eating a lot of agedashi tofu since, and man, now I see the genius. His is a dome, a really light and creamy house-made tofu, lightly fried on the exterior, sitting in dashi with more nameko mushrooms, topped with salmon roe, scallions, and slivered nori, and then there's a little smudge of chile paste on the side of the bowl for you to add to taste. Kind of like the vitello tonnato above, it's taking something common to a different level, not by throwing 8,000 different things at it, but by nailing the technique and adding a few smart touches. So good.
Grilled Rice Ball in Broth (Onigiri)
Grilled Rice Ball in Broth (Onigiri)
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The onigiri was the only one that didn't quite get me there, only because the broth was really, really heavy on the seaweed -- too much, I thought. But a the weak link, this was pretty damn good.

Raku's so much the real deal. It's Tokyo to me -- this is what eating there is like. I can't get enough of the place.

Japanese Curry Zen
There's a newish joint in the same little strip mall as Raku -- Yelp reviews indicate a fall opening -- and they do Japanese curry! So I got my fix. It's really tiny. There's a counter with maybe six seats, and maybe a couple of two tops and a four top. I think you'd need a shoehorn to get much more than a dozen people in there. There are a couple of people in the kitchen, but the guy calling the shots is clearly the older Japanese fellow, carefully stirring and ladleing out servings of curry. And that's pretty much all they do. Curry. You can have your choice of protein, and there are a number of options there, but they're all served up with the same vegetarian curry roux.
Curry Condiments
Curry Condiments
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The labeled condiments are adorable. Not pictured are the little jars of rakkyo (a type of Japanese allium) and fukujinzuke (pickles typically served with curry, daikon in this case, I believe). There's also a chart that lists all of the spices that go into their garam masala, and mini-dissertations on the health benefits of each of the same. It's both hilarious and awesome.
Tonkatsu Curry
Tonkatsu Curry
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I can't get away from tonkatsu curry. The tonkatsu was solid, if less than awesome. A little crisper would be nice, but it was good. The curry was extremely good, though, especially for a vegetarian curry. My tastes tend towards Japanese beef curry, where you get that nice meaty depth. But this is a really delicious curry roux. The spices are beautifully blended, it's got a great, thick texture, it's a little sweet but not too sweet... and that meaty depth I miss is purely a matter of preference on my part. I love that they basically do one thing, and do it really well. Bravo.

Monta Noodle House
Also in the same strip mall, I finally got to Monta. Yeah, this is really good stuff. I'm generally a miso guy, but I really wanted to get a sense of their bare-bones tonkotsu:
Tonkotsu Ramen with Egg
Tonkotsu Ramen with Egg
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Straight-up, only with the addition of an egg (which was beautiful -- barely cooked). It's a really nice, rich, porky broth, and their noodles are superfine but have pretty good bite. To me, their tonkotsu needs a little something, and they offer a ton of condiments on the table and I'd probably give it a little splash of something next time. Or do the tonkotsu/shoyu which I think is basically just a mix of the two broths. But this is a really good ramen joint.

Ramen Sora
I also hit Ramen Sora, just a couple of blocks east on Spring Mountain, and fulfilled my aggressive tare desires there:
Spicy Miso Ramen
Spicy Miso Ramen
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It's a little hard to tell -- this isn't exactly comparing apples to apples -- but I think the base is a little better over at Monta. That said, this was really tasty, with a healthy but not overpowering shot of miso, and a spicy ground pork mix that slowly bleeds into the bowl as you eat, lending the spice. The noodles here are a little thicker and kinkier, and have similarly good bite. I kind of don't want to get into calling favorites here. Monta seems a little more refined, Sora a little more aggressive, but I'm happy calling them different and if you're going to do one, I'd say go with the one whose offerings strike your fancy. I'd love to have two ramen shops on the same street like this. Wealth of riches, and all.

Honey Pig
Also on Spring Mountain (god, I covet Vegas' Chinatown), I did a little late night pork at Honey Pig. This is, I believe, an LA-based establishment, and it's KBBQ that's almost exclusively pig-focused. We went with one of their basic combinations (A, I believe), that included pork brisket, pork belly, and fried rice. The banchan aren't a strength here. I think there were four, and they were pretty basic, maybe prefab. It's about the grill, which is one of those domed metal grills with the lip at the bottom to catch everything that drips down:
Korean BBQ
Korean BBQ
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It's so simple, and so good. The pork isn't even seasoned. You just grill it up, and they have some of the typical accompaniments -- salted sesame oil, ssamjang, raw garlic and chile peppers, and a bowl of lightly dressed shredded salad -- and you eat lots of pork. And the quality of ingredients was outstanding.
Fried Rice
Fried Rice
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Then, once you've had your fill of pork, they bring out the seasoned rice and toss it on the grill that's still slick with pig fat along with whatever's left of the kimchi and marinated bean sprouts, and if you're patient enough, it even gets a little crisp. This is really, really good Korean BBQ. And it's fun going to a place that's really focused on the pork.

Viva Las Arepas
Lastly, hat tip to the Cosmic Jester, Viva Las Arepas really is awesome. I'm totally with you. It's a little ethnic joint, but it's too clean and well-organized to call it a dive. Aside from the fact that they're closely identified with Venezuela -- which is what VLA purports to serve -- I really don't know thing one about arepas, except that I like them a lot.
Chicken Arepa
Chicken Arepa
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Arepas aren't a masa concoction, they're a cornmeal concoction, and in this case they're griddled to a crisp on the outside, but they're light and fluffy inside, like a moist bread. These things are big. Like, hamburger big. And the chicken was damn tasty, smoky and charred, stuffed in there with lettuce and tomatoes and cheese, and a splash of a lightly seasoned crema with green salsa on the side. Hot and steamy is the operative phrase here, and also super delicious.
Cachapas
Cachapas
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This is the one that blew me away, though. It's the last on the arepa section of the menu, and it isn't served like the rest, instead folded over kind of like a quesadilla. The inside is a melty mozzarella-like cheese with a subtle tang, but the joy here is in the dough, which is made of fresh corn and is absolutely exploding with fresh griddled corn flavor. The flavor on this was absolutely huge, and if I weren't on lunch number two, I could've gone back for two more. Please don't skip these. Wow.

I feel like that was strong work for two and a half days. I kind of feel where you're coming from, sourcetags. There's a lot of great dining on the strip, but man... especially when you consider price performance, feel like the places I really can't wait to get back to were all of the little joints off-strip. Spring Mountain Road west of the strip is really a gem, and there's a whole lot more in that city. I resolve to pursue more off-strip eats.
Dominic Armato
sinosoul
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Skillet Doux wrote:Honey Pig
Also on Spring Mountain (god, I covet Vegas' Chinatown), I did a little late night pork at Honey Pig. This is, I believe, an LA-based establishment, and it's KBBQ that's almost exclusively pig-focused. We went with one of their basic combinations (A, I believe), that included pork brisket, pork belly, and fried rice.

It's so simple, and so good. The pork isn't even seasoned. You just grill it up, and they have some of the typical accompaniments -- salted sesame oil, ssamjang, raw garlic and chile peppers, and a bowl of lightly dressed shredded salad -- and you eat lots of pork. And the quality of ingredients was outstanding.
One of the key methods to eating this, as I've learned from the Korean contingency in my life, is to micromanage the kimchi. By micro-manage, I mean you MUST sautee (or grill, whatever) the kimchi in the lard rendered out of the belly. Of course kimchi sam gyup ssal is already a regularly offerd korean bar food dish, so replicating this real time on the grill is a natural progression of BBQing sam gup ssal. Combining kimchi with pork belly in every bite eliminates the need for any additional dips/vegetation, and allows more room in your stomach for... so.ju. :twisted:
Last edited by sinosoul 7 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
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Skillet Doux
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Oh, I totally forgot to mention!

We also went to go check out a newish cocktail joint that's been getting an awful lot of press lately. Commonwealth, located downtown, is a bar. Kinda trendy, decent drinks, from the sound of it. But they do have a "speakeasy" in back called The Laundry Room that seats no more than a couple dozen, focuses on classics and gentle revisions thereof, and is accessible only via text message reservation request sent to a "secret" number (not that secret).

For a place that's been getting so much buzz, I was awfully disappointed. It's a chill room, and the fact that they're trying to cultivate something classy and relaxed is not unappreciated. But the whole speakeasy thing is so transparently contrived, and the drinks we sampled, to be frank, just weren't all that. They were in the process of revamping their menu, so all 20ish pages were photocopied (no exaggeration), and there easily 100+ cocktails listed. Which is just stupid huge, and I wonder if that's part of the problem. To be fair, their star bartender, June, wasn't there the evening we went. Still... a disappointment. Should've just done Vesper.
Dominic Armato
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Just as the Japanese strip mall has become a destination (Raku, Monta, Kabuto, Japanese Curry, etc.), so has the strip mall with Viva Las Arepas (where I, too, almost always go for the cachapas, which I prefer plain, but are also pretty darn good with any of the fillings used in the arepas (especially the beef. The mixed grill at Viva, or just the chicken ala carte, is pretty great, too). But next door is the first great gelato shop in Las Vegas, The Art of Flavor, where Desyree makes superb gelato and sorbets. And if you walk a few steps north and cross the street, you are at a spanking new taco shack (also with a full menu of tortas as well). They specialize in al pastor. Despite the weird passersby, the little counter and condiment area is sparkling clean. The partners in Viva are backing both this stand and Art of Flavor, and their care shows.
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Skillet Doux
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Dave Feldman wrote:But next door is the first great gelato shop in Las Vegas, The Art of Flavor, where Desyree makes superb gelato and sorbets.
Ohhhhhh, man, now that's what I get for trying to hit VLA on the way out of town. If I weren't in such a rush, killer gelato. Next time. Thanks for the tip, Dave... good to see you around :-)
Dominic Armato