Vegas Short Report & strangest restaurant experience
My boyfriend and I went to Vegas (well, outside of Vegas really--we had a free stay at the golf-oriented Hyatt Lake Las Vegas Resort) for a few days between Xmas and New Years. Because we are very cash poor (hence the casinos got boring pretty damn fast), we decided to go off the beaten track, using Jonathan Gold recommendations and chowhound info. It took us about 8 hours to drive there from LA, and we hadn't eaten for almost 20 hours, so we were very stoked to try out Shanghai 168, which Jonathan included in the 1999 October Vegas "Gourmet" lo-down. There was a huge crowd in front, and being the only white folks around we took that to be a good sign.
Well, what followed was chaos like I've never seen in a restaurant. During the wait we hear occasional screaming from the kitchen--things are obviously intense, as they are also short of wait staff. We wait 45 minutes, and when seated, are not given menus, only tea cups. We as well as most of the other customers are getting antsy. Several parties walk out, indignant. We put in our order, and receive the soup within about 15 minutes; the people at the table next to us got their entrees, but no soup. (Their soup arrived with their check.)
About another hour passes, and there's an incredible screaming match (which we didn't understand a word of) between the waitresses and the chef. We hear dishes breaking, and everyone else in the restaurant is starting at the kitchen, completely silent and jaws dropped. The chef gets on the phone directly behind me and yelling loud enough so that all the patrons can hear his grievances. Although we dont know exactly what sort of verbiage is being spewed, you have to be dense not to have a good enough sense. So we chat with a sympathetic busser who gets us our food. Slowly the restaurant clears out, so by the time we left its empty. All told, our lunch of 3 dishes took two and a half hours to complete. The food was fine, not worth the hassle but worth a good story.
We had a fantastic dinner at Saigon Restaurant, 4251 West Sahara, #C, (702-362-9978). Extremely friendly service, great Vietnamese basics; it ain't no Golden Deli but we were pleased. And it was faster than our lunch
Made the pilgrimage to Lotus of Siam. Were NOT disappointed, jeez was it incredible. I just wish I was with more people to sample more. But when I return for a wedding in October I'll make multiple trips.
Overall, Border Grill was by far the least interesting meal we experienced.
Sorry about the Shanghai 168 experience. Too bad, one of JG's other Chinese recommendations, Kim Tar, is fewer than 100 feet away, and has excellent service.
I'm happy to see Saigon Restaurant is still going strong. I remember going once with a large group, and I was the only person familiar with Vietnamese cuisine. The entire waitstaff (OK, two people) were kind and extremely generous in explaining the dishes, and burst with pride when our group was so enthusiastic.