My trip to Vegas
Just got back last night - I was staying on a comp at Aria. The comp included $200 in food credit and this somewhat derailed my plans to roam far and wide for the full Vegas foodie experience.
Day 1 - I was hungover having stayed up most of the night - drove up to Lotus of Siam - felt a little weak to focus on the a la carte menu - so I splurged all of $10 on the buffet. Not as good as the a la carte but still very respectable. Very nice beef soup and then the usual thai buffet items but very well executed.
Later I was playing in the WSOP at the Rio and had to grab something quickly in the break between rounds. I regard Rio as a culinary disaster and the quickie "chinese" chicken salad did not change my impression.
Day 2 - No longer hungover and knocked out of the WSOP at about 2am on the first day. Decided to play in poker tournaments at Aria and use up my $200 food credit. Lunch at Todd's PUB - grabbed the duck buns in hoisin sauce (pleasant snatchke) and then the lobster poppy - which was described as 6 oz of Maine lobster cooked in something like a yorkshire pudding. It was OK - nothing to write home about - I think I prefer the lobster salad roll at Postrio.
Got knocked out of the Aria poker tournament before dinner. Decided to play some Pai Gow and hooked up with a coupe from DC and we all went to Sage for dinner. Had a Dogfishhead Raison d'Etre beer in the bar first. Decided to have 3 appetizers instead of a main course. First was the braised oxtail - tasted even better than I remembered from my previous visit. Ordered a spicy bitter Carpano vermouth similar to Punt E Mes. The next 2 appetizers were the octopus salad - nice but not spectacular and the sweetbreads - these were served and I presume cooked with a very fatty piece of pork belly and were just about the best sweetbreads I have ever had. Finished off with the ice cream dessert - also very nice but unnecessary.
One of the Pai Gow dealers was from Thailand and I asked her opinion of Lotus of Siam and she opined that Ocha was better and cheaper - more on this later
Went to Julian Serrano for an early lunch. Had the huevos something or other - which consisted of poached eggs on top of fries and chorizo sausage. Very nice and also something that would appeal to someone who wanted something like a recognizable gringo breakfast. Followed that up with the seafood rice - mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp and monkfish. There were lots of pieces of the poor man's lobster and the whole thing was very nice - a little like a quick paella. My only complaint was that one of the clam shells was broken and I got to chew on a few pieces of broken shell.
Played in the 1pm daily poker tournament again and after 10 hours I received $5,000 for first place. It Being late and me being tired, the second place finisher and I went to Aria's Thai restaurant Lemongrass. Abysmal service and serviceable but not great Panang curry - their definition of 10 star heat leaves something to be desired.
Day 4 - checked out of the hotel and decided to grab lunch at Ocha before flying home. Ocha is a hole in the wall Thai place across the strip from the Stratosphere. It shares a parking lot with a motel with swimming pool and a wedding chapel. Inside is not spectacular - very plain. There's a cop there enjoying his lunch and I believe the front part of Ocha may be a Thai deli - if such a thing exists. I wanted something like Lotus's Nam Kao Tod and I didn't see it on the menu. So I ordered Yum Nam - which was described as "salad with pork tenderskin" or something like that - there were typos and I may have misread it. I also ordered a red chicken curry. The Yum Nam had chewy bits - they may have been tendon and not skin ut they were not unpleasant and easy to chew - there was also pieces of ground pork, salad bits and enough peppers to bring it up to ten stars. I was right that this would be a more than adequate replacement for Nam Kao Tod. After a few mouthfuls the blend of spicy sour and umami kicked in and I found myself rapidly wolfing it down. The red curry was also very nice (and huge) (but not particularly exceptional). All the flavors were fresh and vibrant - just as they are at Lotus.
The menu is a lot smaller than Lotus. The place is clearly family run. They serve wine and beer. They also serve water in plastic beakers. All in all, a nice little discovery.
The tab was under $20.
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Lotus of Siam
953 E Sahara Ave Ste A5, Las Vegas, NV 89104