I've got Wynn Buffet and Lotus of Siam covered.
Arriving Saturday evening (already booked Lotus of Siam)
Sunday dinner is pre-booked for a conference.
Monday dinner at Wynn Buffet, then off to see Penn & Teller.
Driving home Tuesday afternoon.
The rest is wide open.
Thinking about trying out the Vegas version of DiFara for lunch one of these days.
Is Wicked Spoon worth hitting up since we've already got a buffet on the list?
We're splashing out a bit with the shows and buffet so I'd be looking for more budget conscious options-- preferably dishes that are hard to find in my home city of Los Angeles.
Also, please recommend some standout Issan dishes at Lotus of Siam. We were in Thailand for a month in 2006 and I loved the khao sawy. Also, I visited LOS many years ago shortly after their pilgrimage from Norwalk to LV (before the throngs of foodies knew about it) and I remember having an outstanding crispy oyster omelet. Any other standout dishes? I do love the northern style sour sausage. Not terribly crazy about the chili pastes, though I'll probably order it just because its so iconic. All other suggestions appreciated.
First, the headlines:
BACCHANAL ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY HAS KING CRAB!
...But not all the time.
Sorry to those of you reporting here who missed out-- I understand your disappointment, but you simply MUST stop reporting inaccurate information, in confident language, as if you have a full handle on the truth.
After reading conflicting post after unhelpful post on Chowhound, that's what I did. And do you know what they told me? "We aim have king crab for dinner every night, but it's a seasonal, popular item that sometimes runs out." You see? Easy.
Visitors to Vegas rely on sources like Chowhound for accurate info. When you post "BACCHANAL AIN'T GOT NO KING CRAB!" out of anger and frustration, it is a disservice to people like me who have limited time and resources.
On our night, we arrived at 4:30pm on a Monday. There was no wait. Huge piles of king crab, both cold and in hot water available. Two hours later, the lines were backing up outside (90 minute wait), and the king crab was still there. When we left at 7:30 (we needed to get our money's worth!) the king crab was still there. We loaded up on giant, perfectly cooked shrimp, a beautifully spicy cocktail sauce, large oysters (the little, grainy ones described elsewhere came out later after the big ones were gone), oyster shooters (tasted like V-8 with the tender chew of oyster), PERFECTLY cooked salmon (and I mean PERFECT-- juicy, moist and flavorful) with arugula salad, another kind of fish topped with fennel salad, which was not as well cooked (slightly dry), WONDERFUL fried chicken- ultra crunchy, well seasoned breading, but white meat was ever so slightly overcooked. The meat carving station was UNBELIEVABLE. Smoked brisket with a thick chewy bark, giving was to silky fattiness. Lamb chops char grilled with some kind if mildly sweet glaze, cooked PERFECTLY medium rare. These were the highlights. The lowlights.... rubber sushi. Cruise ship quality. Why, when there's such an emphasis on freshness, that sushi-- one of the items most sensitive to idle time on the shelf- is left largely unattended, not made to order? Terrible stuff. The pozole a the Mexican station was warm and comforting. Excellent rendition. The Chinese station at the end was ambitious, with all manner of dim sum (even xiaolongbao!) and even things like congee and youtiao (for the Chinese tourists, ostensibly) but I couldn't bring myself to eat too much of this. We have plenty of incredible, cheap Chinese food in Los Angeles. Overall, the buffet was a huge hit. The king crab makes it as good a value as one can expect.
We went to Lotus of Siam twice. Got the crispy oyster omelette-- excellent! Also got the khao sawy, wonderful rendition. I was a bit confused by the "khao sawy braised short ribs"-- these fusiony things always make me scratch my head. Khao sawy is such a beautiful, rich dish on its own, I'm not sure why anyone would need to make it richer with short ribs. We ordered two more dishes which I can't remember (so long ago, last Saturday was!) Sadly the couple next to us got the last order of mango sticky rice. On our second visit for lunch on Tuesday, I followed Dave's suggestions and got the hoh mok, nam kao tod, jackfruit curry. They were out of the northern tartare, sadly-- they had it on the first night, and I just forgot to order it. Still no mango (was told they're out of season).
We also made it to Yi Mei Champion Taiwan Deli-- superlative Taiwanese breakfast food. My review for this underrated (and not talked about) gem is here.
We also made it to pho kim long for late night noodles and a competent pork chop rice. Both warm and filling after a day of conventioneering. Surprised by how many non-VN were working and eating there. In LA's Little Saigon, clientele and primarily Asian people, and front house staff is always Vietnamese. Certainly not a problem, just different and a little surprising. Went next door for Lee's banh mi, which became our breakfast the next morning. Hooray for avoiding overpriced Strip food!
As for pizza, I tried to make it to Made In Italy but got caught in the horrendous marathon traffic on Sunday and had to abort dinner plans. I did make it way out to DeMarco's. First impressions-- douchey sports bar vibe. Annoying "chatty" menu, filled with things sort of like "It's the way Dom does it!" as if the menu is a note to us, his personal friend. This kind of faux sincerity rubs me the wrong way. As for the pizza, I ordered a 1/2 square pie. Tasty, competent. Very crispy, a little too oily on the bottom, but very crispy. The thing that gets me is that DiFara in Brooklyn is the real deal. He's like Jiro on Jiro Dreams of Sushi. He embodies the craft. It is who he is. His pizza parlor reflects that. It's a neighborhood slice joint, as its been for decades. DeMarco's smacks of spoiled kids looking to capitalize on Dad's success and franchise him to death. Dad is all about the craft- the kids are all about the money. And it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Please, Chowhounds, correct me if I'm wrong here-- I'd love to be. But that's how it feels to me.
Anyway, thanks for your advice, and a great trip (chow-wise).
re: Mr Taster
Thanks for the long report. It's amazing how similar your experiences at the Bacchanal Buffet were to my first visit there, where I singled out the cocktail shrimp, the cooked salmon, and the lamb chops for their quality. You, alas, had better luck with the king crab and the oysters. On my second and last trip, I was impressed with the quality of the meats in the charcuterie. As someone who doesn't love buffets, it wouldn't occur to me to choose Bacchanal as a destination, but if asked what is the best buffet in Las Vegas, I'd have little trouble recommending this one.
As I think I reported, there was no line at all when we entered in mid-afternoon.
I'm perfectly happy with the chicken or beef khao soi, but the short ribs are fantastic. I had the same initial reaction as you -- that they would be gilding the lily. In fact, I usually ordered the chicken over the beef because I felt I didn't need the extra fat of the "regular" beef, let alone the short ribs. I don't think this is an attempt at fusion at all, but just a brilliant thought about using a great ingredient (this is prime meat of steakhouse quality -- and not a gigantic serving).
Based on what bothered you about DeMarco's, I'd definitely try Made In Italy next time. Just curious if you've tried Settebellow in either Las Vegas or Pasadena.
re: Dave Feldman
The charcuterie station was a bit of a mess. There was one mortadella and 5 or 6 nearly identical looking salamis, very messily arranged. When I went back later, it looked like the spread had diversified a bit.
As for Setebello I have tried neither the Vegas nor the Pasadena locations. In fact, I hadn't even heard of the place before researching on Vegas boards. I'll have to give it a shot.
re: Mr Taster
Interesting comments about DiFara/Demarco, Mr Taster I cant quite tell how you feel about the pizza..any NY style places in LA better?...also, a part of me agrees with you conceptually...certainly theres no comparing a local joint where one guy has been making the pizza for 50 years with a "spin off." on the other hand, if id grown up learning to make pizza from my Dad or grandfather, id like to continue in the tradition...and who wouldnt want to associate with mythic kin, like DiFara? Now they may not be carrying on the tradition in a "tasteful" way..It sounds like DiFara's son, i believe thats who is doing the branching, is not executing the biz model in a way that really carries on the tradition..personally, they could probably duplicate the "look" of the Brooklyn joint, cleaning it up a bit, though, and it would probably atttract more people! so should a pizza fanatic like myself go there?
Just read that Caesar's Bacchanal buffet won best buffet.
I would do the Country Club at the Wynn.
Delmonicos at the Venetian
LOS is sublime..lunch and dinner
Bouchon for breakfast
Milos for the $20.12 lunch 3 course
Raku or Pho Kinh Do
Happy hour at the Trump was quite good for drinks and food.
Secret Pizza on the 3rd floor of the Cosmo for late night slice...chandelier bar for fab drinks and atmo.
Hi Mr. Taster. Just got back from a trip to Las Vegas, so I have some opinions.
I don't think Dom DeMarco's, based on only one visit, is interesting enough to go out of your way for, but it's much better than average in Las Vegas. But the two best pizzas I've eaten in LV have been at Settebello and a place QAW has written about recently, Made In Italy: Pizzeria Roma at this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/699326
If I were in a pizza mood, I'd go to Made In Italy for a couple of reasons. One, it is hard to find genuine Roman pizza anywhere in the U.S., let alone Las Vegas. The crust is wonderful and the ingredients, sparely applied, are high quality. Definitely order the Roman pizza, either 2-feet or 3-feet. Two, it's a family-run business and Sonia and Fabrizio, husband and wife, are more than happy to talk about their work and to make recommendatons. Three, Made in Italy makes great espresso. Four, despite the extremely limited menu, Fabrizio makes specials. The day we went, he had made meatballs and put them in a sandwich that looked like the bianco (the last photo QAW inserted), using the pizza dough -- superb, maybe even better than the pizza. It's not right near the strip, but closer than DeMarco's.
To me, the Wicked Spoon has one thing going for it -- the most beautiful presentation of any buffet in Las Vegas ever. But I thought the food is only OK. I think Caesar's Bacchanal is considerably better, although the presentation is nothing special. The prepared food is cooked in small bathces right in front of you. Wicked Spoon's fare is served in small portions, but it can be lying around as long as the slop served in troughs at Circus Circus. I'm not a big buffet guy, but Caesar's would definitely be my first choice (I think the food quality is superior to Wynn or Bellagio). Although there are still crowds at dinner, I walked right in at 2:30 the other day (and King crab comes out at 3:00).
I don't know where to start re: best dishes at Lotus. Saipin has been experimenting with different proteins lately. She has a special "Northern" tuna tartare that is the best fish tartare I've ever had (note that it is served in large cubes). It is absolutely addictive. Look on the counter as you enter to see if it's on the special menu. I'd always ask about specials, which lean toward fish but now includes Angus steak with a wine sauce -- it's probably expensive. One thing that is great is that you can get the same sauce with a protein that will make it cheap or expensive. Two of my very favorite dishes are in that category: the hoh mok with sea bass costs double what the catfish does. It is not a sacrifice in any way to order the catfish. Similarly, the khao soi on the Northern menu, with chicken or beef, is inexpensive and features the same sauce and noodles as the short rib, which is more than double the cost. The charcoal grill is outstanding at Lotus. The whole catfish and the steak are both terrific. The Nam Kao Tod is probably LOS's most famous dish -- it's an outstanding appetizer.
re: Dave Feldman
Wonderful recs. Thank you so much for this.
I'm not a big buffet guy either, but I make the trip out to Vegas so infrequently, and buffets are such a part of Vegas culinary history, that I figured I'd do one big blowout buffet meal, for the experience as much as for the food.
I wasn't considering Caesar's Bacchanal but I'll give it a second look, especially if they serve king crab legs (Wynn apparently used to serve them, but now serve snow crab). Do you know if they have king crab every night, or just on weekends?
I'll definitely keep your LOS recommendations close at hand, and will only head to the Vegas DiFara if time permits. I'll also take a closer look at Made in Italy.
re: Mr Taster
re: Dave Feldman
I dropped by Made in Italy today for a margherita pizza. It was my first time there, and usually when I visit a pizza establishment for the initial time that's what I get.
My first impressions of the place itself... it's in a poor location. In a standard small strip mall, however a lot of the other places there were vacant. It's set back from the street, and completely blocked from view by another building. There's a tiny black and white sign by the street itself which simply says "Pizza". Honestly, if I wasn't specifically looking for this place I never would have known it was there.
When I entered Made In Italy I was the only customer there, and it stayed that way the entire time. I was greeting warmly by the owner and his wife, ordered the pizza and sat down at a table. About 10-15 minutes later the pizza arrived. It looked, smelled and tasted very good. The crust was perfectly cooked, with just a bit of char on the bottom, yet still was slightly chewy. The ingredients were also of very good quality. Overall I'd still rate Settebello as my favorite in Vegas, but this Made In Italy pizza was certainly one of the better pizzas I've had here.
Overall I was quite pleased and will definitely be back again. My only concern would be about their location. Hopefully they will be able to overcome that obstacle and have a successful business for a long time to come.
I like the pork stew and the jackfruit curry on the northern menu.
One of the mixed grills at Rincon de Buenos Aires is a good budget conscious dish for the variety of meats and quantity. $30 for two. Order a side of the rice, you get bread and the chimichurri sauce. You can get the combo with the blood sausage and compare it to the other cuisines you've tried. Be warned this is a low frills atmosphere but I don't think that will bother you.
Can you talk a bit about Wicked Spoon? I keep reading good things about it, but not a whole lot of specifics as to why it's better or worse than Wynn or any of the other A list buffets. Can you do a direct comparison? I also keep reading about M Buffet. Again, direct comparisons? Are we talking about real innovation in the dishes? Or are we talking about sheer bounty? What, specifically, makes Wicked Spoon (or M, or any other top tier buffet) better than any other?