Las Vegas weekend report
This is from a trip back in Nov.
Art of Flavors Gelato
Art of Flavors is a partnership between Felix Arellano, the owner of Viva Las Arepas next door, and Desyree Alberganti, a former pastry chef at Valentino. I had heard so much about this place and the expectations were high. Thankfully we were not disappointed. Most gelato shops use mostly sugar, paste and not much else. In this place they were not shy with their bold flavors. The Hazelnut was the best I have ever tried. My brother liked his Pera e Gorgonzola and Pistachio. My selection of Passion Fruit was really intense and tart and the Dark Chocolate was very bitter. Great place and we can’t wait to return for Christmas.
Lotus of Siam
We have been to Lotus of Siam many times in the past and for the most part we were always satisfied with the quality and the service. I called a couple of days prior to our dinner to make a reservation and I was told that they were fully booked, but we could come and line up prior to their opening. We got there about 10 minutes before opening and there must have been about 30 people standing in the line. Luckily we got in and were seated in the new area of the restaurant. My twin nieces are vegetarian and ordered the Egg Roll and seemed to enjoy it. My brother told the waiter that the twins would like to share a veggie Pad Thai. They brought two plates of Pad Thai and we assumed they split an order for the twins, since the portion looked too small to be a full portion. The Pad Thai looked OK and the kids were too full and took one bite each.
Now to our selection. We started with NAM KAO TOD and loved the crispy rice with the pork, chilies, peanuts, ginger and the lime juice. It was very spicy, but I could eat ten plates of this. My brother loves the TOM KAH KAI soup and always orders it. Since I don’t eat poultry I told him let’s get it with the shrimp. It was a flavorful soup but I don’t know if it was worth the $16.50 we were charged. Since we always get the same thing I decided we should try a couple of new items. The first one was the CRISPY MUSSEL OMELET. I liked the crispy part, but we didn’t care for the soft slimy part as my brother called it. The Mussels were an Ok quality and we only ate less than half of the omelet. I guess this was not a dish for us. Next was our usual NUA SAO RENU that was sliced charbroiled beef served on bed of sliced cabbages, topped with tamarind sauce and fried dry chilies. We always loved this dish because of the tamarind sauce and usually the beef was more tender. This time not so much. Our last dish was another new item and thankfully it did not disappoint. KHAO SOI BRAISED SHORT RIB was Northern Thai egg noodle served in curry sauce, coconut cream and braised short rib, garnished with sliced red onions, lime and pickled vegetables. By this time we were really full, but we each took a bite and enjoyed this flavorful dish. When we received our bill I noticed they charged us for two Pad Thai’s and even though my brother didn’t want to mention it, I told the wait staff that we only ordered one. They charged $8.95 for an unappetizing plate of noodles and a few charred tofu. After a while the waiter returned and informed us since we received two plates of Pad Thai we had to pay for it. I was amazed at their customer service. That dish didn’t cost them more than a dollar and at no time they apologized for their mistake. On top of that our party of five was charged 18% for their great service. So I guess we are done with this place. Dining is not just about food, service is a big part of it. As we left we saw all this people waiting outside to get in. Good luck to every one. There is much better places to discover.
Yonaka Modern Japanese
I was looking for a new restaurant that served creative, visually appealing food that did not cost your mortgage payment. I came across Yonaka Modern Japanese online and we decided to give this place a try. My Phone’s GPS took us on the wrong direction (Hello Apple) but we found our way and were impressed with the interior of the restaurant. Since we got there around 6:00 p.m. our waiter presented us with the regular menu, happy hour menu and the daily specials menu. There were a lot of things that looked appealing and we over ordered for the three of us. We started with their complimentary Curry pasta sticks. It was crunchy and had a nice curry flavor. Our first item was the very flavorful Gyu Skewer; it was a great start and we were hopeful. Hotate Pan was Asian steam Corn Cake, Panko fried Scallops, Tomato Jam, Longanisa, Garlic Aioli. I really loved this dish. The crunchiness of the scallops complemented the soft corn cakes and the sweetness of the tomato jam was a great match with the saltiness of the Longanisa. Next was the Tea brined Ribs. The pork ribs had a nice honey citrus glaze and was tasty. Asian Bacon was my second favorite dish. It was pork belly with peanuts and papaya salad. The pork belly was very flavorful and the Papaya salad added a nice refreshing crunch to this dish. They treated us to a very tasty fruit salad. Chuka Buns was next and it was a Pork Belly bun with Apple, Cilantro, Jalapeno, Shallots, Black Lime, Kimchee puree. I was too full at this point and didn’t try any. My husband liked this dish and we took one of the buns for my brother. He missed this dinner because he had to work. The only dish we ordered from the regular menu was the Niku Berry. Wagyu, Strawberries, enoki, king’s Trumpet Mushrooms, Fennel fronds, Fried Egg purée, Thai Chimichurri sounded interesting but I thought it was a little bland. The beef needed a little salt to make this dish more flavorful. Our last dish was the Sakana Yaki. It was Oak grilled Fish, Rainbow Cauliflower, Cauliflower dashi, Cucumber, Crème fraîche. By this time we were really full and probably didn’t enjoy it as much as we would have if we were more hungry. It was a nice dish, but we preferred the more flavorful dishes that we received at the beginning of our meal. Service was great and we really enjoyed our experience here. Prices were reasonable and I hope they keep the Happy Hour menu because we have to bring back my brother and father next time.
No trip to Las Vegas is complete without visiting Payard a couple of times. There is two lines at the bakery. A long one that you can order everything and a short one just for coffee and pastries. The first time, we got our goodies from the short line and I felt the Pain Au Chocolat was not as flakey as previous times. The second time we got our stuff from the long line and the PAC felt more flakey. I don’t know if that was a coincidence or what? Almond Croissant was delicious as always with a crispy crunchy exterior and delicious almond paste on the inside. My husband enjoyed his Danish. The Flourless Chocolate cookie was very rich and on the sweet side. My nieces got the gelato and they liked it but the $7 price tag is a little steep.
Another stop at our favorite Presto Café for some delicious eating. We stopped there twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. They recently started their dinner menu and it was all very good with very reasonable prices. For lunch we had their special of the day Porchetta pide that came with caramelized onion, Gruyère cheese, Bacon and BBQ sauce. It was pretty good and a good value for the portion. We also had the Kale, Quinoa, Cranberries, Cashews, Feta, Mint vinaigrette. It was a nice salad and I recreated the same salad and used Pomegranate instead of Cranberries to make it a more superfood salad.
Now to dinner. I loved their Hanger Steak Chimichurri, Truffled Israeli couscous wild Mushrooms. The steak was cooked perfectly and the Mushrooms added a more umami flavor to the dish. A very satisfying dish and a bargain. My husband enjoyed his Pan Seared Wild salmon, Chia Seed citrus reduction, Seasonal Veggies. The salmon was seared med to med-rare and the veggies and the chia seed reduction made this dish a very healthy one. Our friend enjoyed the Free Range Marguerite Chicken, Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Asparagus. He said it was very flavorful and the chicken was juicy. I was told a portion of their dinner sale will be donated to Shade tree. We also tried their Zucchini Peanut Butter Brownie Truffle and Chick Pea Chocolate balls. They were both very good and addictive. Now I just wish they were in my neighborhood.