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Jun 11, 2013 10:50 PM

first trip to vegas, a few questions.

hello, so this is my first visit to las vegas and i am quite excited as i've not quite experienced the unique culinary culture before. i kind of plan on roaming the strip with my boyfriend and having some snacks and drinks in various places. we're going to a music festival at nights so no long, ceremonious dinners are planned.
we will be in the city from friday afternoon until monday afternoonish. we'll be driving through red rocks on the way in to get some nature in. : )
things i've kind of planned (and this is so loose):
*lotus of siam (obviously?)- any thoughts about the fishcake appetizer with the cucumber salad etc? i liked the idea, but found no reviews online.
*ice pan- im so intrigued by this method of ice cream making.
*luv it frozen custard or nielsens? (maybe both? i lovefrozen dairy)
*viva la arepas
*china poblano
*shaanxi gourmet (should i skip this? we have pretty excellent chinese in the sgv...)

okay, so to begin with, i currently reside in los angeles and so i need some foie gras. what is the foie gras app i need to order, preferably at the bar at an early dinner hour like 5 or 6, nice drinks and a nice view would be a plus. but killer foie gras is key. preferably no tasting menu item recs or entrees, thanks.

also, i would like some really nice views of the city somewhere with reasonable drinks, like not over 15 dollars... and maybe a nice bite at the bar? a couple recs on this? its hard for me to read what's what amongst the cheesy celebrity restaurant silliness.

any other general tips are welcome. thanks so much in advance. can't wait to come see what las vegas is all about.

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  1. I love Lotus of Siam and would highly recommend the Nam Kao Tod and the Khao Soi Noodle curry with beef. I haven't had the fishcake app. I found the pork jerky to be too tough to be enjoyable (and I love jerky), but pretty much everything else I've had there is delicious.

    Ice Pan is nice, but works best if you are someone with dietary restrictions. If you love the creamy goodness of full fat dairy icecream, this is not going to really rock your socks. It will probably seem a bit bland and even icy if your icecream-person isn't super skilled. However, if you can't eat dairy, or like low fat, this can be a wonderful treat. Much like a Coldstone Creamery, there's also the enjoyment of being able to order a very custom icecream- choosing the base, flavors, toppings and mix-ins add a bit of mad scientist experimentation flair.

    Also note it's in a sorta weird location around the corner from the landing between a set of escalators near a cafe that somehow always seemed closed when I went by.

    Unfortunately I've never been to the other places you mention, but I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will chime in. I think there's a nice view from the top of the Effiel Tower in the Paris Casino, but I've never been.

    Have a great time! Vegas can be a lot of fun and some really good eating.

    1. For drinks with a view you may want to try the bar at the Mandarin Oriental (I am not sure if this is technically the bar for Twist or not).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Searching4Dunny

        The view at Mandarin is nice but there is no way they will get out of there for less than $15 drinks. Last time I was there, the prices were outrageous and I don't recall them serving any food.

      2. *shaanxi gourmet (should i skip this? we have pretty excellent chinese in the sgv.)
        Probably. It is a branch of SGV original.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jblee

          I've only been to Shaanxi twice and think the noodles are extraordinary, but what goes in/on top of them is not. This is a common problem in many places that specialize in hand-pulled noodles, in my experience. You probably could skip Shaanxi for the reason jblee indicates, but I think you'll be happy if you go there.

        2. so no thoughts on the foie gras app or the nielsens vs luv its debate?

          9 Replies
          1. re: monpetitescargot

            Can not be of great help with foie gras, except to note that sincere foodie friends have been particularly pleased with Sage on that front. But when it comes to dairy, here are some ideas. Luv-it is so close to Viva Las Arepas that it is convenient to make them a double-header. Felix is going to have his own gelato shop open next door to Viva, but I am not sure of the opening date. If you plan it that way, you have a good excuse to squirt a little extra of the habanero sauce on your arepa, knowing that you will have some Luv-it afterwards to cool the palate.

            Yes to the fish cakes at Lotus.

            One suggestion for someone that loves frozen dairy is a place that is out of the way, but has caused quite a stir so far - Frost Bites Shavery, a truck at 898 South Boulder Highway. Extremely impressed with both the texture that they create, and also the brightness of flavors. Sadly, it is a trek, but they have a wonderful integrity in their product. They deserve their own thread, but here are some photos (had mango on this particular day, with about a half dozen spoons eaten before the pic was taken).

            1. re: QAW

              okay, great. so, luv its, it is! totally great tip about the arepa followed by some frozen custard. makes so much sense.

              thanks for also answering my fish cake quandry. from what i gather, it seems that pretty much everything at lotus of siam is great.

              also, the frost bites truck looks great. esp the mango flavour, yum! will try to make a trek out there. love the harp seal graphic on the truck, too. thanks so muchly!

              1. re: monpetitescargot

                And Viva Arepas could be called Arepas +, because their mixed grill is excellent (or try just the chicken). And I like cachapas more than arepas myself, and V.A.'s are excellent.

                I don't think Luv-It has world-class custard. When custard is good, I prefer it plain, but at Luv-It, I usually get a topping, such as butterscotch. But I do love going to Luv-It -- it's as close to the feeling of going to a DQ or an A&W in the midwest as you are going to get in Las Vegas.

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  thanks for the information about viva arepas. my boyfriend will love that they have a good mixed grill. will take your advice as well and try a cachapa.

                  any thoughts on nielsens? i used to eat this frozen custard from this place in virginia that has proved impossible to beat as of yet so my bar is set pretty high. thanks again.

                  1. re: monpetitescargot

                    I'm sorry, I have never been to Nielsen's. My standard for frozen custard is Kopp's in Milwaukee and to a lesser extent, Ted Drewe's, in St. Louis. I don't think Luv-It is anywhere near that level -- maybe closer to Culver's, the hamburger chain in the upper-Midwest that offers one of the best fast-food desserts of any chain I've tried. But I wouldn't turn down a Luv-It custard, especially with toppings. It's good stuff.

                2. re: monpetitescargot

                  Combine the fish cakes and the cucumber salad into the same bite - a nice vinegary crunch gets added, and instead of overpowering the taste of the fish cakes it actually enhances them. More of Saipin's deft touch with textures and flavors.

                  1. re: QAW

                    is it one of the dishes you would recommend ordering if you only had one experience ever at lotus of siam?

                    1. re: monpetitescargot

                      That is a tough one - I live close enough to Lotus to have had over 500 meals through the years, and one of the great things about Saipin's cooking is that there is something for every mood. But I would characterize the fish cakes more as a nice starter, to open up the taste buds - something to eat casually while perusing the menu to decide on other choices.

                      1. re: monpetitescargot

                        You didn't ask me, but I'd weigh in and say that you can find tod mun pla in virtually any Thai restaurant, but it's harder to find nam kao tod or sausage or some or sheet fish soup. But I'm a total hypocrite, because I often order papaya salad, and the same could be said.

              2. Coming in for EDC?

                Viva Arepas-good eats.

                Friends swear by Luv It, haven't tried it myself yet.

                Tiffany's Cafe is a fave of mine after a late night out. Old school Las Vegas diner in the White Cross Drug building. Big portions and good prices.

                Friends love LeThai on Fremont St, I still need to get there myself

                Komol Kitchen has good food,and is across from LOS. Matter of fact Commercial Center is full of restaurants - Asian heavy.

                The ElCortez has a $7.95 off the menu prime rib special- PR,potato,soup/salad, rolls. The ATOMIC horseradish is killer stuff, be careful.

                Rincon Criollo has down home Cuban food. It's the only Cuban place my Cuban friend will eat at.

                The Gold Spike has a 24hr cafe with good food, and a neat lounging areas, games, beds, chairs, etc.

                Drinks up in the Arts District (Charleston + Main)
                Velveteen Rabbit on Main , Bar+Bistro in the Arts Factory, Artifice across the street from the Arts Factory.

                All of these are within walking distance of each other, and each has its own style. My friends and I usually end up hitting all 3 in a night. B+B has live Bluegrass on the patio for the Sunday hangover brunch. Artifice has various DJ's, bands, etc. Velveteen has aback patio that is still in the works, but the sisters who run it are great, and we have a good time there.

                There is also the Lady Sylvia -- down the road a little, but still walkable from the Arts Factory.

                The Beat coffehouse is in the Emergency Arts building off Fremont if ya need some caffiene to stay up.

                Other general advice; drink lots of fluids since it gets hot, stays hot (100 at midnight, low of 80 around 3am, 100 by 9 am) , and we have low humidity (single digits at times) = dehydration. If you are not peeing clear you are not drinking enough.

                Strip prices are high for everything, get off Strip for good, and affordable.

                Grab a free copy of SEVEN, Weekly, and City Life at the Arts Factory, or any other location, to find out what is happening in and around the valley.

                96.7 the Jelli has EDM if you are in for EDC

                I live outside of LV , and venture in every weekend to have something of a social life. When I drive around I carry at least a gallon of emergency water with me at all times. Traffic jams, overheating, etc..Car interior temps will hit 160 degrees during the day, so anything left out in the sun can burn you IE; sunglasses, keys,coins, hard shifter knobs, etc. Plastic items warp, use a windshield sunscreen. Leave the windows cracked when parked, I have a friend who popped the windshield out in his truck last summer while it sat in the direct sun with the windows up.

                I take 4-6 , 1.5L soda bottles 3/4 - almost full of water and freeze them. The gap on top of 1 is filled with water when I leave, and they are put in a small cooler I carry in the car. As the ice melts I have cold water all day long. The ice chest also keeps things from cooking before I get home - remember what I said about interior temps.

                Put valuables in out of view areas, and keep wallets, phones, etc in front pockets, keep a good hold of purses. It isn't THAT bad, but it does happen.

                The Strip is fun for people watching, and the casinos I like to visit are the Bellagio for the fountain shows, and City Center for snapping pictures. I don't dine, or drink on the Strip - too many good affordable options off Strip.

                Have fun , and Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada!

                PS. Betty Willis who designed the sign is 90 now, and lives in Overton NV, down the road from me.

                2 Replies
                1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                  haha- yes! i am coming in for edc.

                  thanks for such a detailed response and for answering directly some of the questions i had. (ie arepas, luv its..) and for the advice about the heat- especially cracking the windows and about putting liquids and heat conducting objects in the sun. i think we're following your advice about the car sunscreen. we park on a rooftop in los angeles and we should probably invest in one anyhow... okay, back to the chow!

                  i was considering le thai and komol looks good and gets good reviews but i think lotus of siam will be cornering themarket on thai for us but we'll keep them as options just in case. my boyfriend gets cranky hungry if lines are too long.

                  rincon criolla looks good and ive added it to the list- gold spike, however appears to be closed for good, upon some research. tiffany's will go on the list because 24 hours is always a good thing for a festival that goes until like 7 am. and after a night of partying there is little i like more than a greek omelette.

                  velveteen rabbit looks cool, as does the beat. i love vinyl!

                  thanks again for your help! so very much. well tune in to 96.7. plur!

                  1. re: monpetitescargot

                    The Gold Spike is open. The gaming was removed, but the diner is still there,along with some new activities. HAVE FUN!
                    Wish I was going.