America Eating Abroad

Las Vegas, NV

December 20, 2013

I can definitely see how Las Vegas got the nickname ‘Sin City’. During our four days in the neon overloaded man-made desert playground, I saw evidence of all sorts of deadly sins unfolding.

  1. Greed– probably the foundation of Vegas, I think this one needs no explanation.
  2. Pride– the ‘more money than sense’ types strutting through the casinos on the swankier side of the Strip thinking they own the world.
  3. Envy– the green-eyed wannabes with just as little sense who wished they had more money.
  4. Lust– those who ogle at the scantily clad showgirls or waitresses (though some are definitely not lookers) or the endless offers of ‘hot dates’ for the night.
  5. Wrath– from the throngs of people with beers or giant daiquiris in hand, I’m sure a fight or three broke out. Someone just needed to look at them funny.
  6. Sloth– this is a town where everything seems to be on hand a little too easily… even we were guilty of just slothing around and doing nothing but a spot of laundry one day.
  7. Gluttony– I didn’t have to look far for this one, we seemed to have dabbled in it, just a wee bit.

Gluttony #1 was China Poblano in the flashy Cosmopolitan; a Chinese and Mexican restaurant- I kid you not, it had two bars- one making dumplings, the other making tacos. We opted for Chinese this time. To start were the ‘when pigs fly’ porks buns and ‘har gau’ dumplings; maybe it was the setting but they tasted better than ones from your average Sunday yum cha place. The ‘ten treasure’ noodles were tasty but nothing that wowed- note to future self, bowls of noodles are not good for sharing, what were we thinking?! We were disappointed by the ‘stuck on you’ pot stickers, they looked pretty with that fancy lace thing but we should have guessed that being lamb, they’d also be laced with cumin, a spice we are not friendly with.Vegas_ChinaPoblano1 Vegas_ChinaPoblano2Drum roll please for the best dish of the night (and Vegas for that matter) the quail’s egg sui mai- bite into these things and the yolk just bursts… mm oozy goodness. (PS- LBQ, this is what your burger should have had!)Vegas_quailshumaiGluttony #2 was Julian Serrano’s tapas restaurant in Aria- has any one heard of Julian because I haven’t, but apparently he’s a big deal here and we love tapas so, why not? All the usual suspects were there; the bone marrow, croquettes, black pig pintxo and chocolate molten cake were, perhaps disappointingly, a little too usual. The white fish ceviche and mushroom risotto, thankfully did pack some punch and perhaps actually worthy of Julian’s name and prices. But it actually wasn’t about the food that night- we were off to a show- Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana. Amazing. I was actually mesmerised for the whole 1.5hours which is not to be sneezed at, those in the know will be well aware that I have quite a short attention span…Vegas_JulianSerrano Vegas_JulianSerrano2Gluttony #3 was the Lotus of Siam, a strip mall joint outside of the Strip (yes, there is such a thing) which has been named the best Thai restaurant in America a couple of times by people who can make such proclamations and, surprise, surprise, I saw it on an episode of Top Chef. I’ll confess I have never been very familiar with Thai cuisine… I always get bamboozled by the massive menus and in wanting to branch out and avoid ordering pad thai, usually choose something I’m not particularly fond of.

After a bit of a wait, even though we arrived 30mins after opening time, we munched on chicken wings stuffed with pork and mushrooms, papaya salad, crispy duck on drunken noodles, and a northern style red curry- we left very stuffed but not blown away so I’m sure my curse struck again. Surely, we just didn’t choose the right dishes, all those chefs and critics who love this place can’t be wrong, right? Well at least it confirmed 2 things for me- I have to do more research on thai food (read between the lines… go to Thailand) and curries always taste better with coconut milk!Vegas_LotusSiamWhile we were out of the Strip, we decided to pay a visit to downtown Vegas- more neon, less refined, but still outrageous. Then off to another show… we loved Zarkana so much we decided to splash out on another Cirque du Soliel. Unfortunately the underwater ‘O’ was sold out so we opted for Zumanity, burlesque style… more hilarious than impressive but still part of the Vegas experience!

Gluttony #4 was Carnevino, a luscious looking Mario Batali steakhouse… ooh smell the wealth around us… now I’m a girl who likes a bit of swank but perhaps this was even a little too stuffy. Naturally Mario was nowhere to be seen, no doubt either detoxing with good friend Gwyneth or trying to force feed her pasta to get those carbs up! Our overall opinion was that it is overpriced, but the food wasn’t actually bad. My first carne crudo experience was good enough to almost convince me to eat all my steaks raw… but I’ll stick with rare or close to it for the time being. The shrimp ‘alla diavolo’, spaghetti ai frutti di mare (jammed pack with lobster… mmm) and osso bucco were also pretty solid.Vegas_Carnevino2 Vegas_CarnevinoEvery one of these gluttonous experiences also involved various crafty and not so crafty beers, pricey wines from Italy, Spain, Argentina or Napa Valley, and sometimes, if the mood struck, a cocktail concoction. So probably like most who go to Vegas, we definitely broke the bank. Unfortunately this time, what happens in Vegas is probably not staying there… I have a feeling this little dent in the budget may well come back to haunt us!

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