Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Las Vegas: Lotus of Siam, Part II

This is our third trip to Lotus of Siam since its renovation last November. Our previous visit can be found here. I promised Hubs we would come back as soon as the renovation was done. When we arrived, we saw Chef and owner Siapin Chutima walking around the restaurant greeting guests. This year, Chef Chutima received her second nomination by the James Beard Foundation for the Best Chef in the Southwest region. A nod from the James Beard Foundation is a clear indication that this little restaurant in a strip mall off the strip is here to stay.

The restaurant was expanded to the space next door. As you can see, a wine bar was added to showcase the restaurant's wine service and wine list.

A wine cellar was also added.

While the wine list was tempting, I ordered my usual Thai Iced Tea.

Everything that we ordered was highly recommended. Pretty much you can't go wrong with these choices. If you haven't seen the menu, you'll have a hard time choosing what to order which is why this is our third trip here. I always recommend coming here with a group of people so that you can sample twice as many entrees.

Tom Kha Kai Bangkok Style (#23).
A distinctive soup of sliced chicken with coconut milk, straw mushroom galanga, lemongrass and a touch of lime juice.

Koong Sarong - Prawns in a Blanket (#8)
Marinated prawn wrapped with bacon and wonton wraps, deep fried, served with homemade sweet and sour sauce.

Garlic Prawns (Chef's Choice)
Deep fried prawn with shell and sautéed with our special garlic sauce, topped with ground black pepper.

Drunken Noodles (#116)
Pan fried flat rice noodle topped with, sauteed beef with fresh & dry chili, Thai basil served on bed of green.

One piece of advice: Book a reservation before coming here. When we stopped by after our failed meal at Woo, there was still a packed house at 8:30pm plus patrons were waiting 30 minutes for a table. I can't get enough of Lotus of Siam. It's one of the reasons why we drive to Vegas than fly (cab fares are expensive).

Lotus of Siam
953 E. Sahara Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89104

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

San Diego: Fair Food

Since I was a kid, the summer time always meant a trip to the county fair. There was one time as a teenager that I got to go to the California State Fair. Oh gosh, I saw KISS in concert as well as New Kids on the Block and Color Me Bad. Wow, I'm old. haha. Good times!

The San Diego County Fair officially opened on June 11th and ends on July 5th. The theme for this year's fair is "Taste the Fun" to celebrate food and it being a part of our every day lives. This past weekend Hubs and I took a trip to the Del Mar Fairgrounds and got our grub on. There was tons of fair food so we chose wisely. We tried not to have the same stuff that we had last year. Here's the line up:

Twice as long...
Giant Western Sausage - Juicy's

Loads of cheese...
Battered Potatoes - Austrian Battered Potatoes

A little sweet...
Dreamsicle Float - Crutchies Ice Cream

Something fried...
Funnel Cake with Powdered Sugar - Funnel Cake

Take home...
Fresh Chocolate Chip Cookies - Mom's Cookies

If you plan on going to the San Diego County Fair, here's a food listing and map to guide you.

The notable fried food items this year were:
  • Deep Fried Klondike Bar
  • Deep Fried Pop Tart
  • Deep Fried Butter
  • Sweet Potato Fry or Hash Brown Fry Dog
I was so close to getting the Klondike Bar but Hubs stopped me. I already have one problem to deal with, I don't need to induce a heart attack on top of it. A patron saw me taking pictures of our food and said: "Are you taking pictures of the food to remember what killed you?" We all laughed. Good times!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Las Vegas: Restaurant Guy Savoy

My final dinner outing during my birthday weekend extravaganza was at Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesar Palace. Given this is Chef Guy Savoy's only U.S. outlet, it was a perfect spot to end my two-week foodie marathon. Once we arrived, we were greeted by Chef Guy Savoy's son, Franck Savoy. He's such a charismatic man and knowledged my birthday as well as the Gucci shopping bag that I was carrying with me (I couldn't help myself but shop before dinner).

As we were seated, I noticed a stark contrast in decor and atmosphere from Joel Robuchon. The room was sleek and modern yet warm and welcoming. I liked how the tables were well spaced from other tables where I can have a conversation with Hubs without worrying about other diners hearing our conversation. At Joel Robuchon, it was so quiet you can hear a pin drop.

The menu: OMG. I got over sticker shock ever since my first tasting at Alinea. The a la carte menu at Guy Savoy makes you want to check your credit line. Seriously, it was so freakin' expensive. I was so not ready for the restaurant's crown jewel, the 10-course Menu Prestige ($290 per person), but the Menu Elegance ($190) didn't fit my fancy. So we did the unthinkable. We ordered from the a la carte menu where the cheapest appetizer was $40 and entree was $75+. Holy crap! I figured: It's my birthday, we're in Vegas, we only live once.

Canapé: "French Club"
Brioche and foie gras.

Glassware: Candle, salted and unsalted butter, fleur de lys, and pepper.

Black pepper-rosemary forcaccia bread

Another elaborate bread cart at Guy Savoy but the bread loaves are even more impressive. Since there was so much to choose from, the bread server suggested a bread pairing to go with our meal.

Amuse Bouche: Butternut Squash Soup
Under the cup was hamachi with basil and basil flower, garnished with salmon egg.

Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup - $68
Artichoke soup with black truffles, slices of black truffle and Parmesan shavings.

Bread pairing: Toasted Mushroom Brioche and Black Truffle Butter
Layered brioche with mushrooms, spread with truffle butter.

Oysters in Ice Gelée - $40

American Prime Beef Tenderloin and Paleron “à la Française” - $75

Crispy Sea Bass with Delicate Spices - $95
Thick filet of sea bass grilled whole with skin.

Bread pairing: Lemon bread

Dessert from the dessert cart - $25
Assortments of ice cream, sorbets, conserves and traditional biscuits.

Afterthoughts: Restaurant Guy Savoy does not disappoint. The menu was simple with flavorful dishes like the Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup. I loved dipping the toasted mushroom brioche into the soup. I felt like I was at home enjoying my favorite comfort food. The service was flawless and unpretentious. Franck Savoy's warmth and humor flows effortlessly throughout the dining room making each diner feel welcomed. Even the bread server was humorous with his French accent, "Want more bread?". Yes, this meal was expensive but it was well worth it. By the time we left, sticker shock was an afterthought and I was content with my meal.

Restaurant Guy Savoy
Caesars Palace Las Vegas
3570 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109-8924

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Las Vegas: Julian Serrano

Following my birthday dinner at Joel Robuchon at the Mansion, the dining festivities didn't stop there. The next morning/early afternoon, we stopped by Julian Serrano at Aria for a light fare of tapas and paella. We had to eat light because we had a dinner reservation at Restaurant Guy Savoy later that night.

We were the first to arrive and the place seemed larger than expected.

The table setting was simple and modern with deep red and gold hues.

Time to eat!

(left) Traditional Spanish Chicken Croquetas - $8
Chicken, Bechamel

(right) Mediterranean stew in deconstruction - $12
Prawns, bronzinni, sofrito

Mix Paella - $50
Lobster, Chicken, Chorizo, Vegetables, Saffron Rice

The verdict:


Hubs and I appreciated this interpretation of spanish tapas compared to our tasting experience at Saam at the Bazaar. The presence of paella made Hubs give this place a thumbs up. If we didn't plan on dining at Restaurant Guy Savoy, we could have easily ordered 2-3 more tapas as well as dessert. That's the beauty of Vegas, there's always a reason to come back. Plus, where else in the world could you win your way to a fabulous meal.

Julian Serrano
Aria Resort & Casino
3730 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Las Vegas: Joel Robuchon at the Mansion

A few months ago I celebrated my 31st birthday. In true Foodie Finder fashion, I had to celebrate it in an obnoxiously, big way. Everyone who knows me can attest that I'm a bit over-the-top, a "go big or go home" kind of gal. Can't do is simply NOT in my vocabulary.

Given my little mishap on my 30th birthday, I had to make sure my birthday dinners were absolutely food snob worthy. Enough for other foodies to say, "I hate you" or "Damn, can we hang out on YOUR tab?". Noticed I said dinners (plural meaning more than one). Get this, I celebrated my birthday month with not only one nor two but EIGHT dinners in two weeks leading up to my birthday weekend. Hey, buying a real sportscar on your big 3-0 birthday is sorta hard to beat. It so makes up for the first two years of college when I didn't have a car. :)

On the day of my actual birthday we celebrated at *tooting horns*, Joel Robuchon at the Mansion. Since this dinner was a birthday present from Hubs, I didn't want to go overboard and passed on the menu degustation. It's another reason for me to go back again. Besides, a week prior I did a tasting at minibar, Citronelle and 5-courses at Gary Danko. My stomach could not handle another tasting so we choose the 4-course menu ($168 per person). It ended up being 10-courses between the two of us including the dessert cart which was plenty of food.

Ok, I'll stop blabbing and get on with the food.

This was the first time we've ever seen a bread cart pushed around at a restaurant. Too many to name. If you are a lover of bread, you'll say, "Holy shit, that's a lot of bread."

Side view of the bread cart. There are two additional shelves at the bottom of the cart.

Gruyere Bread, Milk Bread, Cheese Bread (I forgot the actual name)

Original Brioche and Bacon Epi

A butter cart? OMG, are you serious!

Hand-carved butter sprinkled with fleur de lys on top.

Amuse Bouche - Le Caviar
Caviar in a fennel cream served as a surprise

Le King Crabe
King crab and asparagus blancmange, medley of season vegetables

La Saint-Jacques
Seared scallops, spiced coconut milk and fresh coriander condiment

Les Petits Pois
Light green pea cream with a hint of peppermint, sweet onion cloud

Pommes Puree
Robuchon's famous mash potatoes, light and creamy.

Le Tofu
Delicate tofu veloute on warm smoked eel seaweed gelee

La Sole
Sole with lemongrass emulsion, baby leek (I'm probably missing some other stuff)

Le Canard
Duck and seared foie gras with sweet and sour fall fruits, grapefruit zest and cracked black pepper

Tahitian vanilla pineapple, coconut sorbet and elderflower liqueur

La Pistache
Pistachio cream, raspberries infused with apéritif wine and rose sabayon

To the right, the table centerpiece. The decor was an elaborate display of Spring in Paris. Lots of pink and green hues throughout the room.

The surprise of the night, a celebration cake! When I placed my reservation, I mentioned that we were celebrating my 31st birthday. I didn't think we would get a separate cake to share amongst ourselves. The presentation alone made my mouth drop. The cake came in on a tray with a foot tall chocolate display with a huge butterfly on top. It definitely put a smile on my face.

Meringue cake with a mango filling and puree

Another elaborate display of mignardises on a dessert cart. There was so many to choose from. Hubs stopped me from wanting to try everything.

Before we parted, we were given a little gift box and a souvenir booklet showcasing the restaurant, menu, food, kitchen, and decor. I thought that was so cool. With a meal like this, every avant-garde restaurant should think about doing this.

Starfruit & lemon flavored marshmallows

Afterthoughts: SOoo worth it. What else can I say. Bread and dessert carts, hand-carved butter! OMG. There was a cheese cart, but it was located on the other side of the room. While I would have liked to have conquered the menu degustation ($385), I am now better prepared to do so. Vegas is literally our second home. I mean, we have deeded property here plus comped hotel stays at Venetian, MGM Grand and Bellagio. We have no problem coming back as often as we like. As soon as I get better, it's so on.

Joel Robuchon at the Mansion
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
3799 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109-4319