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Jun 24, 2012 04:39 AM

NY perspective on Vegas trip

As a long time ny metro area hound I am used to amazing dining options from trucks to palaces. After too long of an abcense I once more find myself travelling to Vegas on business. I am pondering the question - What can I get in Vegas that I cannot get around NYC?

My first stop is Raku, But after that I am torn between the options from crawfish to thai to Guy. Only the NYC hounds can give me the feedback I need.

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  1. Shouldn't this be on another board - where Las Vegas rules?

    7 Replies
    1. re: scoopG

      Oh well, leave it to Chowhound to decide where I want to ask for advice. Sorry Vegas hounds. I've perused the board here already. I was more interested in a straight comparison from NYC hounds who travel to Vegas.

      1. re: seal


        As a NYC Hound who adores dining in LV, I highly recommend Sage at The Aria (my new discovery from this year's visit, but is on my "must" list when I return to LV). Le Cirque (much better than NYC--and has become my replacement for my beloved Alex that was at The Wynn), e by Jose Andres at The Cosmopolitan--very creative and delicious; similar in concept to Ko with only 8 seats and the chefs prepare a multi-course fixed menu in front of you. I would also recommend Joel Robuchon, but with a bit of reservation. My dinner last year was fantastic; this year, while the service is exquisite, my beef dish was fairly tough to chew.

        I've dined at Twist and Guy Savoy, and am not a fan of either.

        Although I've never been to Lotus of Siam, it's long been on my "must try" list.

        Hope some of this helps.

        1. re: ellenost

          Funny ellenost, you were one of the hounds I had hoped would reply when I first posted this on the ny board. Tyty. It helps a lot.
          Btw, this thing struck me as so odd that I made my first post ever in General Topics wondering if this site is on autocorrect ;o)

          1. re: seal

            You definitely need to go to Lotus of Siam (OK I don't live in NYC but I used to when I was a Prof at NYU) - it is unforgettable - just remember not to pay any attention to reviews of the NY "branch" of LOS.

          2. re: ellenost

            ellenost is an NYC hound puppy? Huh, awesome. I thought you were nothing but a Las Vegas hound dog. T-3 weeks and counting for my deliciousness recommended by ellen and you other pooches ! Can't wait

            1. re: ellenost

              What did you find wrong with Twist and Guy Savoy? I liked the food at Sage, the service was a bit weird, I was a solo diner and in all my years of traveling to vegas on business, I never felt uncomfortable dining solo until I ate at Sage.

              I didnt care for Alex, a bit too salty, components of some dishes didnt work, also it may be minor but if I'm shelling out that much money, could they at least remove the Walgreens sticker from the bottle of Fiji water they're pouring me. E by Jose Andres is not similar to Ko foodwise, maybe WD-50.

              1. re: Ricky

                When I dined at Twist, I ordered from the a la carte menu. Each course and at least 3 or 4 variations; some worked, some didn't. Never thought too many variations of foie gras or lobster could be a bad thing.

                While I thought the service at Guy Savoy was exceptional, I found the decor so drab that I felt as if I were dining in a prison. I didn't care for many of the courses. I've never been a fan of artichoke, and his famous artichoke soup did nothing to change my mind. Also, the cost of dinner at Savoy made dinner at Robuchon look like a bargain.

                I dined solo at Sage this year, and found the food delicious and the service very friendly, attentive and accommodating. Definitely plan to return.

                Since I dine very often at Ko in NYC, other than the flavor profile, I find it similar to e by Jose Andres for the reasons that I've mentioned in my prior post. BTW, the process of getting a resy at Ko is much easier than getting one at e. I've dined at WD-50, and do not find it at all similar to e by Jose Andres.

        2. Seal,

          You'll have a car (or at least don't care about paying more for a taxi than the meal is likely to cost)?

          6 Replies
          1. re: Dave Feldman


            I will and I know my way around driving. I know what you mean about the cabs though, even a short jaunt over to Raku would cost a lot.


            Been to LoS more than a few times and they are high on my list of places to go back to. And you're right about the NY "branch".

            1. re: seal

              Oh fiddlesticks ! That doesn't sound good ! How much is a cab ride from Wynn to Raku ?? Now I'm in trouble.

              1. re: drtechno

                It will cost between $20 and $30 each way without tip. For that price you can rent a car for two days.

                1. re: Eric

                  As my favorite chowhound would say "Raa Roe" .. Thanks for the heads up. Will take appropriate evasive maneuvers.

              2. re: seal

                This is a hard query for me because both cities are moving targets. Many of the gaps and weaknesses that that were glaring about NYC have improved in the last five minutes (particularly true of Thai and Mexican food). Twenty years ago, LV had strong Shanghai cuisine, and now most of the good places are long gone.

                So here are a few notions, totally off the cuff:

                I cannot find a single doughnut in Manhattan that I think is better than mediocre. (I'm not a fan of Doughnut Plant). Ronald's Donuts, on Spring Mountain, has no gimmicks, no "innovative" varieties, just straight-ahead, freshly made doughnuts (I especially like the buttermilk bars, the maple round cake doughnuts, and the powdered sugar varieties -- the apple fritters are probably the most popular item, but they are not my thing). I can't vouch for the yeast doughnuts (the only one I tried, a glazed, didn't seem special to me, although it wasn't as sickly sweet as a Krispy Kreme).

                The taco situation has improved in NYC, but I don't think you'll find any better than the adobada tacos at Tacos El Gordo. I've only been to the original location at 1724 Charleston. I love everything about the place, how it looks like a generic fast food outlet, the friendliness of the employees, etc., but from all accounts, the new location on the Strip (3049 S Las Vegas Blvd) is a bit of a miracle, with the same food quality and same easy prices. Make sure you get some of the gratis grilled onions and chilies from the grill.

                I believe that Kashkaval in Hell's Kitchen is owned by a Bulgarian, but I'm ont aware of any real Bulgarian restaurant in NYC. LV has two, sort of. Forte Tapas on Rainbow Blvd. focuses on Eastern European food, but has many other stops at different European cuisines. Informal and fun, in a wacky space. Open until the wee hours. Magura is more strictly Bulgarian, I guess, although I'm not sure what that means since Bulgarian food is so influenced by surrounding countries.

                I won't focus on LOS because you've been there. There are so many more options in NYC these days for northern Thai food, but there are still many dishes at LOS unavailable at any place in NYC.

                There isn't any place like Hot & Juicy Crawfish in NYC. It's a lot of fun, although maybe not worth a visit on a short trip.

                Higher-end places are harder to compare, really. I've been to most of the "biggies" in the NYC area, but not in LV.

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  Probably obvious, but I meant "five years" rather than "five minutes" in the first paragraph.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. This is a great post and thank you for asking! As for my $.02, I ask myself this same question every trip to LV. Dave hit on one of my absolute favorites and that is Tacos El Gordo. This place is a gem and with its new location (well new-ER) right next to the Encore it is a MUST go. I have gone alone, with my buddies, alone, with friends, alone, with my get where I am coming from. Head, stomach, brain, spicy pork, try them all and load up on the grilled onions/peppers.

                +1 for Raku. Personally I like ordering off the menu and am not a big fan of the "tastings" as you can create a tasting much better and tailor it to what you like. I have found the two times I did the tasting that a couple of dishes seemed to just be mehhh and almost filler. DO try the blackened pig ears (OMG delicious) and the Agedashi Tofu (unreal).

                Agree LoS, a must, even if you have been many times. It continues to make me smile each and every visit.

                Higher end, not sure there is a reason to go. Been to most (not le Cirque, and while the LV one is getting rave reviews, I am not sure it is possible to say it is better than the original. That was a special place. The 2nd generation Le Cirque is a shell of the original.). While they are very good restaurants I think the execution is better in NYC (Per Se, 11 Madison, Le Bernardin) than LV (Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy...not sure I throw e in this category but it certainly does not belong in a tier 2 group either). e is a bit of an anomaly as when I went (was $250pp all in, now in the $400pp range) I was thoroughly impressed and enjoyed it immensely (except the "wine" pairings), but at $400+pp, I am not sure it is worth that kind of $.

                I am a big fan of breakfasts in LV. I love starting my day at the Four Seasons Verandah. Priced like a Four Seasons (only knock) but a spectacular way to start the day, from some of the best coffee on the strip to the Huevos Rancheros that I order at least once every trip. Outside seating is also a huge plus for me. The Tower Suites Cafe in the Wynn (formerly Tableau) has some really inventive dishes (duck hash, wild boar sausage scramble) that come close to rivaling The Verandah. And Bouchon in the Venetian (not as wild about this place as most are. Just don't think it is all that inventive but good execution).

                3 Replies
                1. re: LVI

                  Tyvm Dave and LVI.

                  Putting Tacos El Gordo on my must try list.

                  I agree and even though I've enjoyed the high end restaurants in town, I also prefer those in NYC. I would've tried e, but also don't think it's worth the $$$$$.

                  Will also go back to LoS and Hot & Juicy and eat breakfast at least twice at Bouchon and the Verandah as well as at least one lunch at In n Out.

                  I've already reserved Raku once and may try for another night as well.

                  Thanks again for the help.

                  1. re: seal

                    Sorry, but I can't see the accolades for Tacos El Gordo. I went there because of the reviews and tried the adobada tacos. Pretty plain to me, tasted like any other taco shop, and it was a chore figuring out how you order, etc. Not much English being spoken, and fairly chaotic. Overall a bad experience, and I won't be back.

                    1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                      I agree with Biggun, I didn't think the place was anything special. I won't call it bad, but I won't be going back.

                2. Anyone have thoughts on Kabuto yet? I made reservations, I dont expect it to be as good as 15 East, but hopefully it is as good as Azabu, Ushiwakamaru or Sushiden.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Ricky

                    I visited Kabuto a few weeks back, and to me it was clearly superior to my one meal at 15 East (although that was several years ago shortly after they opened, so things may have changed in the interim). My benchmark for top quality nigiri has always been Jewel Bako way back in the early days (before their original sushi chef left), and Kabuto met or possibly even exceeded that standard. You'll enjoy it.

                    1. re: rcurtism

                      15 East is not the same as when they just opened, I think its because Masato san (who was Jewel Bako's original chef) has free reign to do what he wants and it is better than what he did at Jewel Bako, also hanging out with Mizutani might have helped. Any idea where the head chef of Kabuto came from?

                      1. re: rcurtism

                        I'm sad to say my meal at Kabuto didnt live up to expectations, I really wanted vegas to have a excellent sushiya. Shari was mushy, some of the pieces of fish were not fresh, tare was a bit saltier than I prefer, also every piece was served with tare even though they claim to be edomae, no pieces seasoned with salt, yuzu, or sudachi. The quality does not approach 2nd and 3rd tier sushi places in Manhattan like Sushiden, Hasaki, Ushiwakamaru, or Cotan.

                      2. re: Ricky

                        Kabuto is very, very good for Las Vegas (unqualified best IMO), though for me not in the same league as NYC or LA's best....with an optimistic yet. As to your question, I've only been to Yasuda(3x, most recently three months ago) and 15 East (2x, one at bar). Both I find to be superior; however, I obviously cannot comment on the others. For comparison, I recently ate at Mori within 2 days of Kabuto. This only served to highlight the difference in the top notch places and second-tiers like Kabuto. Based on numerous factors, are comparisons with some of America's best really fair to Kabuto - probably not.

                        Rcurtism, I saw your other post where you stated how you thought Kabuto much better than Yasuda. Care to expand - the selection pales but obviously the quality of fish and shari impressed?

                        Having said that, I usually eat at Kabuto a few times a month. It is definitely a great space and Gen-san(from Megu) serves up quality product, at a great price. Remember too that Kabuto is only a few months old and getting better with age. I think you will enjoy it very much. Ask Gen-san what he has in the back(off menu).

                        1. re: palmdoc1

                          Palmdoc - we're talking subtle shades of difference here, but the construction, rice quality, and seasoning of the nigiri at Kabuto really hit a sweet spot for me. Yasuda probably does have a slight edge in fish quality and certainly variety. On a more subjective note, I also enjoyed the intimacy of the setting at Kabuto and the atttentive service.

                          1. re: rcurtism

                            Quick question. I have, over the years, been very disappointed with the quality of sushi in Las Vegas. So much so that I have avoided it all together because of the varying quality and cost (In general sushi has gotten extraordinarily expensive is all cities no matter where you are.). Sen of Japan was the place I would go to satisfy my urge as I found it very good and consistently inventive. In NYC I have found that Poke consistently comes close to the quality level of the "tier 1" sushi joints while being 30-50% less in cost. Gari has always been my slight favorite but has become prohibitively expensive. So my long winded question is does Kabuto approach or surpass the quality of the places I just mentioned and what would the cost be for an omakase type dinner? TIA for your help!

                            1. re: LVI

                              I just ate at Kabuto this past weekend and thought it was outstanding - really showcased the fish, a couple less ordinary choices, and prepared with true skill. It's been a few years since I ate at Sen and recall enjoying it quite a bit, but not for the pure enjoyment of the fish . . . different experience, just as Raku is very different. Now I'm in Chicago where I unfortunately have only a couple decent spots for truly good quality fish, so I admit to desperation (and Kabuto beats any place in Chicago for nigiri), but I have also spent time in Japan and know how good fresh (and very simple) fish presentations can taste. And I thought Kabuto delivered.

                              It's also been a few years since I've eaten at Yasuda in NYC and while I don't know that Kabuto delivered precisely on that level, I can say that the Uni brought me back to my meal at Yasuda - close to perfection.

                              I posted my review in another thread, and links for pictures (although not so great quality). So see for yourself.

                              1. re: LVI

                                Unless things have changed, maybe ownership, the recent pictures I googled of Poke arent very impressive, sloppy rolls with lots of spicy mayo, way too much salmon, unless its one of those places that will cater to both sushi snobs and mayo roll people like Kanoyama. Judging the pictures I found of Poke's sushi, Kabuto seems like 2 tiers above Poke. Full on omakase is 80 at Kabuto, and the nigiri omakase is 48 which is pretty reasonable compared to Manhattan places which why I'm interested.

                                1. re: Ricky

                                  By the way, we did the nigiri menu (last Tuesday actually) - 10 pieces, sake apertif, dessert (a great strawberry crepe cake with dehydrated strawberry powder and strawberry sauce) - also ordered two extras - kamashita fatty tuna and uni. (more detail in my more detailed post in another thread).