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One Choice , Raku or Lotus of Siam for Weeknight Dinner

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Need Help deciding, it's for two only. Coming from Canada and although we have great asian restaurants here I'm looking forward to trying one of these two out. Which is by far your favorite based completely on the execution of the food.

Thank you,
Porto

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Lotus of Siam
953 E Sahara Ave Ste A5, Las Vegas, NV 89104

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  1. Wow, that’s a tough one. I am always a fan of Lotus of Siam and before Raku came along I would default to LOS, but Raku has replaced LOS as my "If I only had one to choose". They are both excellent choices and both in the same ball park when it comes to cost. Raku is just a tad more unique.

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    Lotus of Siam
    953 E Sahara Ave Ste A5, Las Vegas, NV 89104

      1. I'd keep in mind what you have available where you live. As good as it is, there isn't much at Raku that I can't get in aburiyas in NY or Los Angeles, except for the homemade tofu (which is my favorite thing at Raku).

        I guess I'd flip what LVI said. If I only had one meal, I'd go to Lotus in a shot because of the many dishes that are hard to find anywhere else in North America and because Saipin Chutima is a brilliant chef.

        But I love Raku, too, and love the service at both places.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Dave Feldman

          It is a win win any way you slice it. These two restaurants are constantly great. The basic premise for me saying Raku is based on one visit. There is so much to be gleaned from LOS with a large party and/or multiple visits where you can sample the multitude of dishes and the contrasts between the different regions. That is one of the reasons, IMO, that LOS is as astounding as it is. But if you have one meal Raku gives you the opportunity to taste more things given the sizes of the dishes. And one last observation that I cannot address as I have not been to Vegas in over 3 months. With the opening of LOS here in NYC, do we think that the beloved Las Vegas location may suffer as Bill is "gone" for a while? Just a question, by no means an observation.

          1. re: LVI

            You actually raise a really important point. Having dined at both LOS and Raku, I found Raku to be more thrilling b/c even if you're just two people, you can sample so many more things than you could at LOS, where you really need a larger group to get a nice variety of dishes.

            As it was, we got the sour sausage rice salad, fried catfish salad (which was rather underwhelming), and the garlic fried prawns, which were also ok, but not all that fab.

            Raku is better suited for a couple, whereas LOS is better for groups of 4 or more.

            1. re: LVI

              That's a really good point that you and lingua raise, and one I've never thought of. You can certainly try more tastes as a couple at Raku than at LOS (or almost anywhere else, for that matter). It's a problem. I guess that could be an argument for parties of two always going to Raku.

              I haven't heard of any decline at LOS. Glowing reports were coming from LV when both Bill & Saipin were in NY! But I don't have any personal experience, either. I haven't been to LV since the summer.

              And to add more thought to the mix: Raku is exceedingly helpful and flexible in arranging meals for groups. If you tell them the price point you'd like, they'll try to arrange a dinner that takes in mind your preferences. And they are also offering kaiseki meals that are also most suitable for groups.

              1. re: Dave Feldman

                Dave, Have you been to the NYC LOS yet and if so how did you like it?

                1. re: LVI

                  LVI,

                  I know too many people involved with the restaurant to post about it. If you want to contact me off-the-board, my email address is listed in my profile. I don't mean to be mysterious, it's just a policy that Jim Leff started right off the bat with Chowhound, and one that I agree with, so I'd like to honor it.

                2. re: Dave Feldman

                  I ate at LOS a couple of nights ago and found the meal excellent as always. No decline in quality as far as I was concerned. My nephew and his girlfriend were with us; it was their first trip. They commented in particular on the freshness of the ingredients. The waiter (who knows me by now for sure) wagged his finger at me to remind me "no mango for desert; its not mango season" lol.... Four of us had the sour crispy rice, nom yung soup (probably spelling it wrong; shrimp version. We were fighting colds and there is nothing better for a cold..), ginger fish, grilled prawns with green chili and garlic, beef khai soi, and sticky rice with coconut "ice cream" and fried bananas for desert (the fried bananas were for my nephew; I don't eat the things). Everything was delicious. One thing that I personally found encouraging: even though the few days after Christmas are notoriously quiet in Vegas, the restaurant was packed. We were grateful for a reservation. I understand that its probably already too late to get one next week (CES week).

                  As for the LOS vs Raku debate, I think it would depend a lot on the number in your party. If there are just two of you, Raku is a good choice...more opportunities to taste because of the small plates. OTOH, with four or more it is easier to explore LOS' extensive menu. Also, Raku really isn't set up for large parties....

              1. re: selfportrait93

                Ok,
                It's going to Raku, Now for some expert advice on selection please.
                I am really looking forward to this meal and trust you know what are some of the real specialties that I must have when there.
                Thank you,
                Porto

                1. re: Porto

                  You MUST get the half & half tofu - it's out of this world (and I never thought I would say that about tofu).

                  Obviously, a nice selection of skewers which whatever tickles your fancy - I was not too fond of the pork cheeks, as they were way too fatty for my taste, but YMMV. We had a grilled trumpet mushroom that was excellent, some yellowtail belly that was a special that night (fantastic); the chicken breast & w/skin is a favorite of many and very good, too.

                  We never got to try the foie dishes which I regret. Cause Vegas is a looooong flight from where I am.

                  I doubt you can go wrong with anything you order, really. You'll have a blast.

                  1. re: Porto

                    Raku isn't the kind of place where you can plan out everything in advance, as the nightly specials should always be considered. Here's what I posted in response to a similar query:

                    "I was knocked out the first time and enjoyed it quite a bit, although didn't have as good luck in ordering [the second time]. I'd order the half-and-half tofu (hot and cold), some skewers (the vegetables, as well as meats are wondrous off the grill), and whatever fish strikes your fancy. Don't be shy about asking about the price of fish specials -- some of them are quite pricey."

                2. I tried to answer this question for myself on a recent quick trip: hubby and I were treating Janetofreno and her hubby to a dinner out in exchange for their hospitality and one of his excellent home cooked meals. The choice was either LOS or Raku. I've been to LOS many times, but have been really eager to try Raku, so we decided to go for it.

                  I really liked Raku but can't say that I'd choose it as a favorite over LOS. It's a tough call. I agree that for two only Raku is probably the better choice because of the flexibility in ordering, but OTOH, as Dave Feldman's post implies, your experience may depend on how well you order. The tofu two ways was outstanding, as was the black sea bass sashimi (a special, $20 and completely worth it), but the pork cheek skewers were only ok at best (tasted much more of fat than of pork to me, as noted in another report). The cold soba noodles with poached egg were also delicious, and I loved the grilled rice balls (sort of a Japanese version of arancini, and something I've not had before; a great concept, as far as I am concerned). The rest of the group loved the lamb chops; I was a little less enthusiastic but I've recently returned from a trip to New Zealand and think I'd just had enough lamb for a while...I was also a little disappointed in the grilled vegetables, particularly the asparagus, which didn't have a lot of flavor (but of course it is basically out of season). The eggplant was nice and smoky, but again, the vegetable flavor didn't shine through. I did enjoy the ohitashi of the day, though for the life of me I can't remember what it was.

                  The sake list was very nice if a bit pricey. We tried the sake sampler of the day; wanted a small bottle of our favorite of the three (and of course I forgot to write down the name), but decided $48 for a small bottle was a bit high, and went for something else the server recommended as being similar in style but much lower in price. One taste, and I found myself wishing I had just gone for the original choice, price be damned. Overall, of course, one can't beat the wine list at LOS, so while I am really starting to enjoy sake even if I am still learning about it, for me LOS gets the nod by a mile for drinking even if though the style of food at Raku is so well suited to sampling various sakes (or beer, though I didn't look to see if they have many choices other than Sapporo.)

                  Dessert, green tea creme brulee, was nice, though it can't hold a candle to the sticky rice and mango at LOS (in season).

                  By the way, based on the prior reports and descriptions, I had expected Raku to be tiny, crowded and noisy. Small yes, but I didn't feel crowded at all (we had the four top next to the door), and I actually thought it was a much more serene ambiance, and quieter, than LOS. OTOH, it wasn't completely full on a Saturday night of a three day weekend: the two-top across from us stayed empty most of the time we were there, though I certainly wouldn't plan on dining there without reservations). Another reason I'd probably prefer it for two: it is almost romantic, definitely would work for a fairly quiet special dinner for two. Oh, and the bathroom is a small adventure, in a good way.

                  Raku will probably be just a bit more expensive (unless one really takes advantage of the wine list at LOS) but not outrageously so: we ordered fairly freely at Raku though we mostly avoided the expensive fish specials, and total bill for four with tax but before tip was $200, which hubby and I agreed is perhaps a bit less than we'd expect to pay for a meal of that quality and with the amount of sake we had to drink. I thought it was definitely a good value for the experience and quality of the food.

                  Only solution I suppose is to leave time for both. :-) However, next time I think I will either go all out and get the kaiseki at Raku, which sounds amazing, perhaps for a special occasion dinner with hubby, or return to LOS...