Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Pleasant Surprise (Todd's Unique Dining, Henderson)

Yet another pleasant surprise in the Las Vegas area. Conventional thinking would say that the best restaurants are on the strip. I am now convinced that this is not the case. Todd's Unique Dining provided me with more supporting evidence that the best dining is found off the strip. Just like Lotus of Siam and Rosemary's, Todd's is located in the middle of nowhere in a non-descript strip mall. We were in Las Vegas for a trade show and we were dining with one our clients. And let me tell you he is quite the comedian. He gave the perfect description of how far Todd's seemed. While driving out there he asked "where are you guys taking me? I think we're almost by my neighborhood". Keep in mind he's from Michigan. It truly seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere, but definitely worth the drive. Chef Todd did not disappoint.

Appetizer Sampler
We started off with an appetizer sampler. The food seemed to have a little Asian influence as evident in the sampler. The sampler consisted of pan fried Pork Dumpling with a soy dipping sauce, Scallops, Dungeness Crab Cake, and Malaysian BBQ Shrimp. All the sauces had a spicy Asian flare to them. My favorites were the scallop and the dumpling.

Kobe Skirt Steak on Fire
This dish was recommended by the waiter. He said that this was his personal and then, the entire staff's favorite dish. So you know I had to order it! It was a Kobe Skirt Steak served with a type of chili. The chili was comprised of Chinese fermented black beans and Togarashi (Japanese spice). This dish was definitely on fire. The meat was fork tender and the explosion of flavors were at the forefront.

Copper River Salmon
Luckily for me, it happened to be that the Copper River Salmon was in season. From what I was told, the Copper River Salmon is only in available for a week or two. So to my delight, I was able to sample some of the most highly prized salmon and it did not disappoint. The salmon was rich, moist, and delectable!

Braised Boneless Short Rib
From what I can recall, the Braised Boneless Short Rib was definitely delicious, but obviously not overwhelmingly memorable. I can't recall the flavor composition of the dish. I do, however, remember that it was very tender and moist. Perhaps, I can't remember because the flavors were a lot more subtle compared to the Kobe Skirt Steak on Fire.

Killer Chocolate Cake
With a name like 'Killer Chocolate Cake' it'd better be the bomb! Unfortunately, it was not even close to being the best. In my humble opinion, the Killer Chocolate Cake did not live up to its name, although I did like the presentation.

Chocolate Crunch Mousse Cake
No.... You are not seeing doubles. And No... I didn't post the same dessert. The Chocolate Crunch Mousse Cake looks similar but it is definitely different. This should have been the dessert named Killer Chocolate Cake. This dessert was far superior compared to the fore mentioned dessert.

Banana Foster
I would have to say, the only disappointing thing about this dessert was that this dessert was not prepared table side. Otherwise, the Banana Foster was excellent!

Loquat Cobbler
Now, this was the dessert that intrigued me the most. As a kid I remember climbing my Uncle & Aunt's loquat tree and grabbing the biggest loquats and devouring them. It has always been one of my favorite fruits, but I have never come across a dessert that incorporated these delicious fruits before. This cobbler was absolutely delicious!

Todd's Unique Dinning seemed like a quiet local place, but when we arrived the noise level went up several notches. At one point, even Chef Todd himself came out to see what all the noise and laughter was all about. Our stomachs were definitely sore from laughter that night, not to mention our full and satisfied stomachs. Chef Todd takes pride in his cooking and it shows! Yet another excellent restaurant that's off the strip. Oh yeah.... I forgot to mention. If you eat here, don't forget to order the Lyonnaise Potatoes. You definitely will not be disappointed. I guarantee!

Todd's Unique Dinning
4350 East Sunset Road
Henderson, Nevada. 89014

Monday, July 21, 2008

Gourmet dinning in a strip mall (Rosemary's, Las Vegas)

Can you believe it? Another top-notch gourmet restaurant off the strip. Rosemary's totally solidifies my notion that the best dining experiences are not necessarily the most well known or on the strip in the mega casinos and hotels. Just like Lotus of Siam, Rosemary's is way off the strip in a non-descript strip mall. I would definitely have to say that my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas are off the strip. Hands down! A couple of years ago, on the Zagat guide, their were only two restaurants that were rated a 28. One was Lotus of Siam and the other was Rosemary's. Can you believe that? I could. The food here is simply delicious and the service is impeccable! Living in the Los Angeles area, I've grown accustomed to eating at fine dining restaurants that look like a fine dining establishment. Rosemary's truly is a hidden gem. Chances are, if you drove past it, you probably would have kept on driving, passing up a wonderful dining experience. On this particular occasion we were dining with business associates and we definitely got down to business... the business of eating that is. Luckily for me, practically everyone ordered something different, so I got to sample a little of everything :) Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph everyone's entree. I guess I got too excited.

Amuse BoucheThe night started off with the Amuse Bouche. This was a delightful start. An asparagus souffle that was a nice warm treat that started the night off right.

Cream Corn Soup
As far as cream corn soup goes, this one was okay... nothing to write home about. It was your standard cream corn soup, but nonetheless it was delicious.

Hugo's Texas BBQ Shrimp
I've tried this particular appetizer quite a few times now and it has yet to disappoint. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and the BBQ sauce was finger licking good!

Panko Crusted Crab Boulettes
Hands down the best appetizer of the night. I would have to say that these are the second best crab cakes I've ever had. The best one being at my sister's friend's restaurant up in Mammoth Lakes called Alpenrose. In the near future I'll post a blog on his restaurant. But these crab cakes are not too far behind. It was nice and crispy from the panko (Japanese bread crumbs) crust on the outside and nice and light on the inside.

Pan Fried Milk Fed Veal Sweetbreads
This was the first time I've tried sweetbreads. For some reason or another I had always thought that sweetbreads were the brain of a cow, until recently. So when someone on our table ordered this, I was eager to give it a try. I have to say I was surprised. It was not as fatty as I had envisioned. I thought it would be like eating bone marrow or something similar. It was definitely very good, but I'm not too sure if I'd order it for myself. Maybe to share, but not solely for myself.

Grilled Prime Flat Iron Steak
I believe this might have been the second time I've ordered this dish. I guess my eye and stomach tend to gravitate towards meat dishes on the menu. But I have to say, this entree was perfectly cooked to my liking and the meat was very tender and tasty. I'd order it for a third time!

Complimentary Desserts
Not only is this dessert good because it was free, but it was also pretty good on it's own merits. It consisted of a chocolate truffle, lemon dessert, and peanut butter ball with crispy rice. I have to say, the peanut butter one was my favorites!

Coconut Bread Pudding
I don't typically like desserts with coconut or breading puddings for that matter, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with this dessert. It had a texture of typical bread pudding with a hint of coconut.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake
I've had other desserts that incorporated goat cheese, so this time around I wasn't as skeptical as others may have been. The cheesecake was a nice and light dessert that wasn't overly sweet.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
I REALLY can't help myself. Whenever I see a flourless chocolate cake on the menu, I have to order it. As far as chocolate cakes go, this one was slightly above average. I am not too sure if I'd order it again though.

Apple Tart
The apple tart was definitely one of the better apple desserts that I've had in a while. The outside was nice and light, yet crunchy and the apple was deliciously sweet.

Lemon Icebox
This was the surprise dessert of the night for me personally. The last time I had tried this dessert I wasn't really impressed. I am so glad that someone had ordered this dessert. I think this has become my favorite dessert at Rosemary's now!

Definitely, this is one of my top restaurants in Las Vegas! Unfortunately, I did not picture the other entrees that were ordered. One of my favorite dishes here is the Crispy Skin Striped Bass. This dish is absolutely a must. One of the more unique dishes that night was the Baramundi. I have never tried this type of fish before and so I was excited to taste it. The fish was very light and moist. One thing that should not be missed is the specials that Rosemary's offers. For instance, Wednesday nights is ladies night and all meals for the ladies are half off. One way you could look like a big shot without spending the big bucks. Check their website for other specials. Rosemary's is definitely one of the best restaurants in the Las Vegas area for sure.

Rosemary's Restaurant
8125 W. Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV. 89117

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ono Grinds (Aloha Specialties, Las Vegas)

Eh, howzit brah? Aloha Specialties Restaurant at California Casino in downtown Las Vegas is absolutely Ono (Hawaiian for delicious). Every time we come to Las Vegas we have to come here and eat at least once. It is so good, sometimes we even eat there daily. There was once a time whenever you went to the Cal, you would run into someone from home. But nowadays, the Cal seems like a ghost town. Every time I go there it is empty. Maybe because it's become very run down and dingy. The only reason we go to the Cal now is to go eat upstairs at Aloha Specialties. There was a time when I used to try different things here, but I have narrowed my selection to just the Loco Moco and Spam Musubi. For those that don't know what a loco moco is.... it is a hamburger patty on top of a bed of Japanese rice with an egg on top with gravy poured all over. Typically, whenever I go to a Hawaiian style restaurant, I order Loco Moco. And here on the mainland, I have yet to have eaten a better Loco Moco. Aloha's loco moco is simply the best. I tried to narrow down what makes it this good, but the fact is that everything makes it this good. The hamburger meat, the gravy, and I think what is the most important factor, perhaps maybe its the journey that it takes to come here is what makes it special.

Loco Moco

Spam Musubi

Aloha Specialties Restaurant
12 E. Ogden Avenue
Las Vegas, NV. 89101

Monday, July 7, 2008

Worth the trip ! (Lotus of Siam, Las Vegas)

First of all, I have to apologize for this posting. The short version of the story goes like this.... I forgot my camera. argh!!!! I couldn't believe it. How stupid could I be? The biggest reason I decided to bring my camera on this trip was for the sole purpose of taking pictures of one of my favorite restaurants Lotus of Siam. And I forgot. I contemplated whether or not to go back to the hotel and retrieve it, but i thought to myself 'oh well, I'll just have to come back again and take pictures'. So that's it for my apologies. I had to commandeer my sister's phone and use the camera from her phone to photograph the food. Believe me when I say that the pictures do not do the food justice!
Let me start off by saying that Lotus of Siam is one of my all-time favorites! The food here is absolutely delicious. The one thing that I've discovered over the past few years is that some of the best restaurants in Las Vegas are off the strip. Lotus of Siam truly lives up to this idea. The first time we ever went to Lotus we were Really reluctant. We actually drove past it a couple of times and when we got there we were very skeptical. Lotus is located off the strip in a dive of a strip mall right next to a dingy looking massage parlor. But boy was the food worth the trip!
One of everyone's favorites is the Bacon Wrapped Shrimp. The shrimp is wrapped with bacon and is deep fried with a crispy won ton skin. These make for the perfect appetizer treats! Another to die for dish is their Crab Fried Rice. This has got to be one of the best fried rices around. I don't see crab fried rice offered very often so its hard for me to compare to other restaurants. Yet another very delicious dish is the Scallops with Garlic Sauce. I typically don't like scallops because they can tend to be a bit chewy, but the scallops here are like butter and the sauce... forget about it! It's so good that after all the scallops are gone, I get the left over sauce and pour it over my rice. Over the past few years we've come to know the menu fairly well and now have our standards. Keep in mind that you could ask the waiter to tailor the heat level of the food to your liking as some dishes could completely burn your taste buds. One of the most unique items on the menu that I have yet to see anywhere else is their Crispy Rice. The deep fried rice is both citrussy and a bit spicy. The texture and taste of this dish is out of this world. The Spicy Beef Salad is another dish that is very delicious, but this is one of those dishes that you may want to ask for medium heat, unless you like heat. Yummm!!! I know that this is sounding monotonous, but yet again... Another delicious dish is the Steamed Sea Bass. The sea bass is so delicate and moist and is also an absolute must! For all the people that know me well and know my eating peculiarities, I don't often eat much seafood, but all my favorite dishes at Lotus of Siam are seafood. Weird... or maybe not. Just depends on how it is prepared. Good food is good food! There were three new items that we tried on this particular visit to Lotus. One was the Crispy Pork. This dish happened to be my least favorite of the night. The flavors were just not that impressive as the other dishes. The second dish that was new to us was the Fried Wonton that had ground chicken inside. The wontons were just okay, nothing special. Right when I started to think that we should have just stuck to our regulars the last dish came out. It was the Sliced Beef with Tamarind Sauce. The beef was perfectly cooked and had a nice flavor of BBQ and the tamarind sauce complimented the meat nicely. This dish will definitely become one of my regulars. To cap off the night we ordered the Fried Bananas that were wrapped in a wonton skin and fried. This dessert was actually pretty good. We were all thinking that it would have been better if it was served ala mode! Lotus of Siam is definitely worth the trip!

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

Crispy Rice

Crab Fried Rice

Spicy Beef Salad

Scallops with Garlic Sauce

Steamed Sea Bass

Crispy Pork

Fried Dumplings

Sliced Beef with Tamarind Sauce

Fried Bananas

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