Las Vegas Trip Report- Sushi Roku,LOS, L'Atelier
Just back from a weekend in Las Vegas, and here's a report back on the meals we had - all but one based on the recs from this board.
First Night at L'Atelier - DH had the 9 course Discovery menu ($148) and I had the 5 course Tasting Menu ($75), and we shared everything. Overall I felt that the $75 is a much better value, most likely because the most memorable dishes were part of it: the langoustine fritter with basil, the pork belly main dish and the selection of tarts. The cheese course was pretty nice too, though the Brillat Savarin was a tad too cold and chalky.
From the discovery menu, we liked the fois gras ravioli in herbed chicken broth, though a smaller quantity of herbs, or a herb scented broth with no herbs in the broth would have been my preference.The signature quail dish was also pretty nice, but the quail was slightly dry.
We washed down our meal with a 2005 Rochioli RRV pinot that we had brought with us, and a half bottle of Duval-leroy Rose served in nice Spigelau glassware. Service was excellent throughout the meal, and the total damage of $391 (incl. tip) was a decent value for LV IMHO.
As expected, getting a reservation was easy for a friday night, but there were a good # of ppl at the restaurant, making for a very nice experience overall.
Since we were curious about the LV buffets, we tried the one at the Bellagio for brunch and it seemed a pretty good deal for around $25 pp. The food quality was surprisingly good for a buffet. We particularly enjoyed the various kinds of bass and Singapore noodles from the Asian station, the prime rib, the roast lamb, and the grilled tenderloin. The highlight was the banana and hazelnut chocolate french toast and I am not even a french toast fan! The desserts were reminiscent of a college cafeteria in their taste and presentation, but the variety was mind boggling. Since we were willing to sit at the bar, the wait in line was cut short, and the wait staff at the bar was extremely pleasant and friendly.
After watching O, we rushed off to Lotus of Siam for our 2nd dinner (about a $18 dollar cab ride) and made it there just under their 9:45 deadline for seating. We ordered 4 dishes from the Northern Thai menu and of these two were incredible - the sausage and the mushroom dip (which was very hot for us, and we tend to eat a lot of really hot food at home!) . The green jackfruit curry w/ pork and the noodles with vegetable and pork blood were unusual and interesting and pretty tasty too, but we did not love them as much as the first 2 dishes. We had brought our own wine, and it was served to us in very nice Riedel stems, and service was efficient and friendly. They encouraged us to take our leftover wine, so we had the singular pleasure of drinking an off-dry sparkling wine out of a styrofoam soup cup as waited outside for our cab. This meal cost us only $70 including tip and corkage, and the time and $ spent on the cab ride was well worth it.
Our 3rd dinner was at Sushi Roku, and it was the most disappointing meal of the trip - detailed report coming shortly.
re: ulterior epicure
I have eaten at Sushi Roku a few times – mostly because I often need a good meal during the one-hour breaks during Caesar's poker tournaments. Overall, I have had a very good experience sitting at the sushi bar. Things have ranged from good to OH MY GOD THAT IS THE BEST SINGLE BITE OF FOOD I HAVE EVER HAD (more on that in a bit).
A few suggestions to get a really good meal at Roku:
Order from the special sushi/sashimi items listed every day. They sometimes have live sushi and/or special fish flown in that day that doesn't normally appear on the menu.
Sit at the sushi bar, talk to the sushi chef and ask for their recommendations. NEVER order California rolls, Philly rolls or other pseudo-sushi. If you order something like sweet shrimp or monkfish liver or live octopus early on, you show that you know and value the quality over quantity. You may find that new items suddenly become available.
That is what got me that aforementioned bite of bliss..... An older Japanese sushi chef (maybe 60 years old) was behind the bar. After ordering a few "adventurous" items, he mentioned that they had just received a special premium Toro from Morocco. I jumped at his suggestion. He soon presented me with two pieces of nigiri with Toro that was more pinkish-white than the reverse. On top, he had brushed a "special" aged soy sauce that was almos the consistency of syrup. It literally melted in my mouth. The mildly salty nuttiness of the sauce was a perfect complement to the richness of the toro. When the waitress stopped to refill my green tea, she looked at the toro and sweet shrimp in from of me and said, "Oh! You got the good stuff."
You can claim that restaurants should not discriminate by giving the "good stuff" for a select few. In principle, I would agree. However, when two guy sat down next to me and ordered California rolls, Ebi (cooked shrimp), etc., they made it clear that they were not interested in conversation with the chefs and that they did not appreciate (nor were they willing to pay) for more "exotic" varieties. Show interest, openness and respect for the art of sushi, and you will be rewarded.
I guess all of these comments will help you get a good meal at any decent sushi joint. Is Roku the "best" of LV? I think that depends. I have had both excellent and mediocre experiences at Nobu and Okada. The same is true of Roku. From what I read, Bar Charlie may be the only place where spectacular food is virtually guaranteed..... I can't wait to try it the next time I head to LV.
re: Tohono Rat
Wow, I just love this post and I think it is spot on. I recently discussed (on another thread) my mediocre experience at Okada and thinking back, I think the reason for it is exactly what you eluded to. In retrospect, when we were seated at the robata grill seats (they could not accommodate 4 of us at the sushi bar) I should have insisted on waiting for the sushi bar. But when we were seated I led by stating that we were not looking for a meal of California rolls and the usual, that we were food lovers looking for something different. I should have known when the waiter suggested a "lobster roll" that we would not get what we were looking for.
And I have to add one more thought...do places like Okada that depend on casino traffic/revenue not have to work as hard to impress its clientele as does the stand alone establishments? And even though Sushi Roku is in the Caesars Shopping forum, I do not believe that it is associated with the casino at all. My friend who lives in Las Vegas has always said his experiences at Roku have been great...maybe I should give it a try, but only at the sushi bar.
so, the bottom line was we didn't go to Sushi Roku because of the negative comments and was told that was a good idea we didn't go. We, however, go to Il Mulino at Caesars, it was very expensive and we ordered way too much for five of us. The lobster special was $70 and the porcini ravilois were $50 (was very tasty but filling with the cream sauce) and we had to pay a captain's fee as well as the tip.
The total cost was $670. Spliting meals is the way to go that this place if you have $$$ to burn.
Sorry you didn't enjoy Sushi Roku. I'll be interested in hearing your review. We've enjoyed it before and will be headed there with friends again at the end of the month. Of course, I view it more as just a fun place with good sushi and not really a dining destination. I just like the combination of the Strip view and good sushi - feels very Vegas-y to me. Also, not a sushi aficionado, so unless it's not fresh I have no qualifications for determining good sushi from bad sushi.