Recs for Group of Japanese Ladies
Hello there. A Japanese friend of mine has asked me if I can make some recommendations for a group of Japanese ladies visiting LV in a couple of weeks. They are apparently concerned about quality dining options. I have assured them (through my friend) that there is good food to be had.
That said, I'm in NYC and just assume this based on what I'm following online and in the media over the last couple of years. I don't have much to go on other than they of course enjoy seafood and would be interested in some good beef options. Their budget is $50-100 per person for food & drink. I think they are in their 30's.
Kinda weird, but If you could step out of your American self and sort of try to imagine what a Japanese person might find good and interesting, I'm wondering if folks here can make some recommendations?
If they wanted a little side trip to get some dessert, Sweets Raku just opened up today. It was a VERY anticipated opening among the locals and seems to have exceeded all expectations. I'm expecting it to be the big story on all the local Vegas blogs and newspapers.
It's a counter with only 18 seats. A three course dessert menu is $19 and the desserts are very impressive (and made for the Asian palate, so much less sweet than normal for the US). All desserts are assembled while you watch.
The pastry chef and all the employees will speak Japanese.
This is a new project from the person who runs Raku (someone mentioned Raku above). His name is Matsuo Endo and he is a James Beard winner.
Raku is NOT simply a normal Japanese izakaya. It is known as one of the best places in the United States to get great izakaya and features a menu that blends traditional and modern Japanese. Raku is the place chefs go when they want to eat. When Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert come to Vegas, Raku is where they eat. So it's sort of special! I've only had the privilege of dining there once, but it was amazing.
Thanks, I'll pass on to my friend Sweets Raku when I get a chance...Regarding the mothership restaurant, I'm familiar with it and tried to, but couldn't, fit it into a business trip out there earlier this year. The extensive online menu on their website is rather standard neighborhood izakaya and robata stuff- which I myself miss living in the U.S. I'm sure it's done well, but I would feel silly recommending it to Tokyo-ites.
How big is the group, and will they have a vehicle(s) to get around? Cabs are the expensive option. I would suggest AVIS rentals at the McCarran rental corral for the best value. I rented an Equinox for 2 days w/unlimited mileage- $56 total. I am a local , so my fare was a little less expensive, but AVIS is great to deal with. The airport location had the best price, they accept debit cards,and they are open 24/7.
I would suggest LeThai on Fremont St.
The El Cortez - I usually get the $7.95 8oz prime rib special which is a big plate of food. Sadly though I fear that they no longer use the Atomic brand horseradish.
The Gold Spike cafe has some good food, plus great atmosphere in the lounging areas to have some fun. Their chocolate malts are also good, but they need the fat straws like McDonalds has.
Tiffany's Cafe is pretty old school American grub, I eat there often.
I don't know much about LV restaurants, but I do some volunteer work where I come into contact with a lot of Japanese tourists asking about places to eat. It is very difficult to get them to state a preference, but (1) they seem to want some kind of food experience that is quintessentially American and (2) they are not real big eaters. Within those parameters, perhaps some other reader could suggest some LV restaurant that has great American breakfasts because pancakes and coffee is the total opposite of tea and rice for breakfast. If the place has a view of the Bellagio fountains, that would be great since the fountains are quintessentially Las Vegas. Photos are important to them. Something like the Chandileer Bar in the Cosmo would progably appeal to them as one of those "only in Las Vegas" experiences, especially if there is a nighttime view of the city.
I may be totally offbased for your group, but I don't see the ordinary run of Japanese tourists as not being interested in wine pairings. But I think they would enjoy the experience of a brewery/pub or restaurant that serves a hamburgers and some American artisal beers.
Finally, most, if not all, of the Japanese tourists I encounter have guidebooks in hand with the names of recommended restaurants, so they won't be berefit of guidance on good places to eat.
I appreciate everyone's cultural insight, however I lived in Japan most of my adult life, am married to a Japanese, and have done a lot of traveling with Japanese. So just looking for restaurant recs- particularly input from locals and frequent visitors rather than guidebooks...I think wine pairings or wine bars would be just as appealing as brewpubs.
here's my email
i gleaned most of the info from chowhound, so feel free to copy
bar + bistro
downtown 3rd farmers market
mexican food (restaurant) supposed to be one of the best in lv
upscale mexican small plates place
right near downtown outlet mall
tacos el gordo
on east side of strip between desert inn rd and convention center drive
mexican take out supposed to be the best in lv
no website, but looks like you can walk from convention center
downtown in the same complex as farmer's market
southern food breakfast lunch and dinner
lotus of siam
supposed to be the best in the us
has lunch buffet, but foodies order from the menu at lunch rather than getting buffet
one of the managers from lotus of siam left and made his own place
it is called chada and it has more small plates and less regular thai food
supposed to have good wine selection
sweet potato fries
smashfries (tossed in oliove oil rosemary and garlic
wicked spoon buffet
buffet, but small plates rather than huge steam tables
$7 unlimited wine option
blueberry hill family restaurant
hash house a go go
huge servings, quality ingredients
golden gate casino downtown
$20.13 lunch special
las vegas happy hours
likely a paid advertising site, but it gives you an idea
charlie palmer steak cut of the week
best dinner deal, but the downside is only one prix fixe menu, no substitutions
unlimited wine option too
menu changes every week, so go if it appeals to you and skip it if it doesn't
the whole party is not required to get the dinner special
some can order off the menu if they like
I'd skip Tacos El Gordo, didn't find it all that great, and I eat a ton of Mexican food. Plus there is a language issue there, so unless there is someone to go between the Spanish and Japanese it could get rough ordering.
If they want American grub send them over to Tiffany's cafe which is an old school "greasy spoon" on Las Vegas Blvd. I eat there often after a late night out and about (3-5am).
Bar+Bistro is Chef Beni's project, and he is doing pretty good. It is located in the Arts Factory (Charleston and Art Way) which is full of art galleries. They have live music during the weekend hangover brunches, and every Saturday evening they have artists working on the patio; painters, scultptors, body painters, etc.. Usually something happening every weekend. It is also across the street from the Artifice bar, and Art Square galleries.
A short walk down Main Street is the Casa Don Juan restaurant, and the Velveteen Rabbit bar (a fave of mine).
You can try these:
Estiatorio Milos (Cosmo) - for really good Mediterranean seafood
American Fish (Aria) - great seafood, prix fixe under $100
CUT (Palazzo) - Wolfgang Puck steakhouse
Holsteins (Cosmo) - upscale burgers, fries, shakes
And they can try Scarpetta or DOCG, both at Cosmo, for some good Italian (DOCG less upscale, Scarpetta more upscale).
Skip Gordon Ramsay Pub (at Caesars). The reviews are pretty underwhelming. It opened to poor reviews earlier this year and everyone I know who has gone has not enjoyed it.
If they want to eat at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, Gordon Ramsay STEAK (at Paris) is the way to go. Or just have them go there for the sticky toffee pudding. It's one of the most amazing desserts I've ever had.
You might think about Aureole at Mandalay Bay. They have a parallel tasting menu (four courses of duos) for $85 (or $95 if you reserve for Swan Court, which I'd recommend).
The restaurant is very visually impressive. You walk up to this very fancy-looking entryway with the three-story tall wine tower with "wine angels" that travel up and down the tower via cables to retrieve bottles of wine.
The food is also very good and plated to impress.
For the price, it's probably the best place to go for a white tablecloth, multi-course meal featuring food that is the opposite of Asian.
yeah, tough to recommend an izakaya to japanese nationals, but from reports, raku is the best in LV
i have been told by a japanese national that fukumimi ramen is the best ramen she's had outside of japan
but if i were from japan, i would not waste a meal on a trip to eat japanese food
when japanese people travel to hawaii, many of them are on package deals, and get vouchers for surf and turf at the hotel restaurants they are staying at
as far as i know, LV does not do this
i am sure someone will correct me if i am wrong
that said, if it is a group of japanese ladies in their 30s, they are most likely single and work in offices
these types of women are called OLs (office ladies)
they are conspicuous consumers
think of the lines of people outside the louis vitton store at ala moana center in the 1990s and the 2000s
now, of course, they shop at outlet stores too, but they save their money for trips to shop and eat
they will probably favor celebrity chef joints that their friends and family will recognize
or well known american chains (i know)
japanese people follow trends closely, and there will be lots of guidebooks and websites for them to study if this is what they want
i have an email that i have saved that i send to patients that are traveling to vegas for the first time in a long time (yeah, i know, not everyone from hawaii goes to vegas twice a year)
and i have sent it to a few friends who are japanese nationals
it focuses mostly on cheaper and good stuff, but if you would like, i can reprint it here