Sunday, May 03, 2009

Our trip, Part 3: Las Vegas

C says:

We ate so well in Canada that we decided to go pretty simple in Las Vegas. We mostly had fast food or food court fare (Panda Express!), but we did have a few interesting moments nonetheless.

Vegas is the land of buffets, with some going as low as under $15. We didn’t feel like gorging ourselves silly on poor quality food though, so we decided that the only buffet we’d go for this time was the renowned gourmet buffet at the Bellagio. Queues around dinner time are apparently legendary, but because we hadn’t had lunch, we were starving by around 5.30 and sailed in without waiting.

The Japanese section was average. The spicy tuna handrolls weren’t too bad but the nigiri sushi had way too much rice and not enough fish. The crab legs were sliced in half lengthways to make it really easy to get at the meat. Again, these were good but not fantastic, as the crab flesh had that slightly watery texture from being frozen and defrosted.

The highlights of the buffet for us were the meat/carvery section, and the dessert bar. There was quite an astounding variety of meats Рprime rib, Kobe beef brisket, venison tenderloin, turkey, lamb chops and beef wellington. Side dishes included lovely grilled asparagus and saut̩ed button mushrooms. I think the meats made the buffet more or less worth the price ($28 on weekdays, $36 on weekends) РI asked for the prime rib to be seared and it tasted fantastic. The venison was tender and the lamb chops were really good too.

There was a staggering array of desserts, but by then I was so stuffed that I could only manage a cream puff and two helpings of a lovely cheesecake. Weekday lunches are only $20, so if the dessert selection is roughly the same, next time I may just come for lunch and focus on the desserts.

We went with cousin S to Burger Bar at Mandalay Place, Hubert Keller’s (of Fleur de Lys) innovative burger restaurant that really lets you customise your burger to your satisfaction. From the bun to the patty to the cheese to the toppings, you can build your burger exactly the way you want it.

This may be one of the best high-end burgers I’ve had. S had an Angus beef patty with mozzarella and baby spinach, A had a Ridgefield Farm beef patty with Provolone cheese, bacon, a fried egg and aioli, and I had an Angus patty with blue cheese, bacon and Portobello mushrooms. The burger was a perfect medium rare, the meat was full of flavour and the patty was loosely packed and therefore really juicy. I also like how fries are an option, so we opted out and therefore weren’t completely stuffed.

Of course, no trip to Vegas is complete without having an In-N-Out burger. Specifically a Double Double, with 2 patties, 2 slices of cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce and special sauce. This was completely different from Burger Bar but in my opinion, no less satisfying. A begged to differ, claiming that it wasn’t as good as he remembered. Well, I guess I haven’t had it as often as he has, so maybe I’m less jaded, but as far as old-school burgers go this was perfect.

Serendipity 3, that ubiquitous NYC diner featured in the movie with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, opened a branch in Las Vegas just 3 weeks before we arrived! Woo hoo! After hearing friends and family wax lyrical about the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate and wondering how good it could possibly be to warrant such rave reviews, we finally got to try it for ourselves.

Well, now we know what the fuss is about. I can’t even begin to describe how good it was. It’s like nothing that I’ve tried before – not exactly a milkshake, yet not simply a cold chocolate drink because there are tiny little ice crystals in each slurp. I don’t know how they’ve managed to get such intensely chocolate flavour into a frozen drink, but they have and that first sip is truly an experience.

It comes topped with a mountain of sweet whipped cream topped with dark chocolate curls. (Ours collapsed slightly on its way to our table; it’s supposed to look more like the picture on the left.) I would advise against mixing the cream into the drink, which is what we did. Firstly, the sheer amount of cream is a heart attack waiting to happen, and if you eat it separately you can control how much you consume. More importantly, the cream tends to water down the intensity of the chocolate, so drinking it neat is the best way to appreciate it.

Well, clearly we need to do double time at the gym to make up for everything that we consumed on our trip. Do let us know if you want more details for the various places that we visited.

A says:

OMG! Serendipity 3 is one of the most amazing restaurants EVER! I could feel my arteries getting clogged as I went through the mountain of cream on the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. Plus the portion sizes are HUGE!

The Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay also rocked. In retrospect, we shouldn’t have gone there on the same day as In-N-Out. The In-N-Out burger really can’t compare.

Finally, never, never, NEVER eat at the food court at the Luxor. I felt sick enough to puke after the chilli dog I had there.

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