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Seafood

Las Vegas: MSC (Min Sok Chong)

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The Skinny:  I needed a nice little reality check from some good friends and they decided to go here.  Apparently I’ve been here before, but it was so long ago when food was just something I ate to survive I couldn’t remember.  It did feel familiar when I first walked in.  I was a little excited because it is a Korean/Japanese restaurant.

The interior is this cute little homely place.  I felt comfortable the minute I walked in.  It was like you’re walking into your best friend’s Asian dining room.  We sat down and first thing we ordered was alcohol.  Soju (Korean alcohol),  Hite (Korean beer) & fresh iced green tea.  I’ve never been here and was open to try anything.  My friend ordered a dish that was slow cooked pork belly with oysters, tofu steak & a spicy potato & beef rib soup.  I loved that the owner’s daughter came to our table with fresh limes and made a special cocktail we named Achy hands drink because she squeezed fresh lime juice into a cup of ice and soju.  Loved it better then drinking soju straight up.  For our happy ending we had candied corn with cheese. OMG who thinks up these things?  At first when it came out my friends and I looked at the dish and looked at Sarah (the owner’s daughter) and said that’s a huge dish of corn!  Don’t know why we were so shocked by the plate, we actually finished majority of it.  It is THAT good.

The Good:  I didn’t have one bad dish here.  The slow cooked pork belly with oysters was fantastic!  I’m normally not a big fan of pork belly because of how fatty it is, but Sarah’s mom made it so good, I could’ve eaten the whole plate if it wasn’t so filling.  The dish came with pickled napa cabbage leaves to wrap the pork belly, oyster & sides (raw garlic, raw jalapeno peppers, and this fermented soy bean paste).  This dish is like an explosion of flavor in your mouth.  It actually really messed me up the first bite.  My brain couldn’t decide what I was eating.  I had the flavorful pork belly, the oyster and all the other flavors from the sides. It was delicious.

The spicy potato & beef rib soup was a great choice too.  It went well with the other dishes we ordered.  A lot of places when I order this type of soup are too spicy.  The spice level and flavor was perfect here.

Our last dish was the candied corn with cheese.  My friend told me that this is the best dish when drinking.  Boy is she right.  This dish is no joke.  Definitely a must try if you ever go.

 The Bad:  I don’t really have anything bad to say about this restaurant other than it’s kind of in a ghetto area.   The best restaurants are the little hole in the walls right?  It is a couple blocks from the University so it’s not that bad, but still quite a drive from where I live. Worth the drive though.

Would you come back again?  Absolutely, we didn’t even begin to take a crack at the menu.  There are so many choices to choose from. I will definitely be back again.  It’s Korean home cooking and you can’t find such great Korean home cooking unless you’re Korean yourself and if you are, then I’m jealous you grew up with such great food.  Next time I’ll try some of the Japanese items and report back.

More Info:  1801 E. Tropicana | Las Vegas, NV 89119 | (702) 262-5592 | Reasonable pricing

– Sniper Tam

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Little Tokyo: Fat Spoon

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The Skinny:  So I learned about the Fat Spoon from another food blog called Weezermonkey.  The blogger had an Uni (Seah Urchin) Croquette, loved it, and that’s what I wanted for lunch today.  Unfortunately for me, when I went there with some coworkers, they did not have any in supply to fry up for me.  So instead, the waiter recommended their Uni Pasta special, so I went with that.

The Fat Spoon is a new restaurant in Little Tokyo that serves Japanese style Curry, Croquette, and Pastas just like the Curry House chain.  It’s right next door to the popular Daikokuya Ramen house and I’m pretty sure that Fat Spoon is owned by Aburiya Toranoko, which itself is somehow connected to the people at Lazy Ox.  I could be wrong though.

The High: One of my coworkers ordered some Mini Corn Dogs as an appetizer.  They were actually pretty good because the Hot Dog they used had a good meaty bite to them, while the Ketchup it came with had a bold Steak Sauce kick.

The Bad:  When Uni is good, it’s really good, but when it’s bad, it’s really really bad.  From what people tell me and what I’ve experienced, fresh Uni tastes sweet and like the ocean.  Well, my Uni Pasta did taste like the ocean, but without the sweet and saltiness of the sea.  There were slivers of Uni still in intact throughout the dish, but they were quite bitter and a bit off-putting.  The Pasta sauce was creamy but bland, I literally had to drown my bowl with grated Parmesan just to add some salty depth.  The only redeeming things about the Pasta dish was the mixed Mushrooms that serve as a meaty texture component, and the Spaghetti Noodles, which were cooked just right.

Would you come back again?  In retrospect, I should have got the Curry since that’s what they are known for.  So next time, I’ll order that….but I won’t be in any rush.

More Info:  Yelp | Address: 329 E 1st St | Los Angeles, CA 90012  | They serve Beer and Shochu | The Uni Pasta cost me $14, but on average, every other dish costs around $10.

– MJ

p.s. pics taken with my android smartphone….sooooo….yeahhh


Las Vegas part 1: The Wicked Spoon @ the Cosmopolitan

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The Skinny:  For a company retreat, my coworkers and I stayed at the Venetian in las Vegas. Our first night there we porked out at the Wicked Spoon which is a buffet located at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino.  This would be my first time there.

From what I heard, what sets the Wicked Spoon apart from other buffets located on the Vegas strip is the way they have a diverse selection of portion size dishes already plated out.   For example, they’ll have Southern style Shrimp N Grits or some braised Short Ribs with Pasta  in their own personal size copper pots.  But like all of the other buffets, they have a Prime Rib, Pasta, Sushi, and other International food stations set up.

The Wicked Spoon buffet is also known for their Dessert and Gelato selections.

The High:  Of all the stuff I tried, which was a lot, the three things that really stood out for me were the Fried Chicken Wings with Mash Potatoes, Crawfish with a Coconut Sauce, and the Bone Marrow.  I was also enjoying the small Mussels with Andoie Sausages, but I bit into one that was full of gunk and soil.  That bite pretty much killed my appetite.

As for desserts, I did try the PBJ Gelato and it was good.  The Chocolate covered Strawberries and Purple-ish Macaroon with Berries stuffed inside, were alright as well.

The Low: Other than that one bad Mussel, the General Tao Chicken had a heavy dosage of Soy Sauce. It was pretty awful.  As I grow older, I’m becoming less of a fan of buffets in general.

Would you come back again?  Not really.

More Info:  Wicked Spoon Buffet |  $22 for Brunch and $35 for Dinner.

– MJ


Las Vegas Part 2: The Venetian | The Palazzo Meeting Halls

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The Skinny:  The 2nd day of our company retreat, we had our conference at the Meeting Halls in The Venetian & Palazzo.  There we were was served a small buffet for lunch.  The theme of the meal was Italian, which makes sense since we were at the Venetian.  Not sure how often the menu changes or what the rotation is like, but what we got for that day can be see in the gallery.

The High:  The Chicken Consume with Shiitake Mushrooms, Meatballs, and Ditalini was very comforting, especially after a night of little sleep.  However, whatever herbs they added to the Meatballs, it was a little strong for me.   The Roasted Beet Salad was delicious, but the Cavateli Pasta with Rock Shrimp, Parmasean, and Vinaigrette stood out the most for me. It was my first time having Italian dumpling like Pasta like that since it was thick and toothsome , kind of  like fried Udon Noodles.   The Shrimp bits that came with it were full of flavor and the Sundried Tomatoes gave the overall dish some well welcomed sweetness and a nice earthy fragrance.

The Low:  The Seared Bone in Chicken Breasts were beyond dry. I felt pretty guilty because I didn’t finish mine and there were a lot of half eaten and untouched bird carcasses leftover.  Such a waste.

Would you come back again?  Probably won’t get a chance to, but I think the overall quality of the meal was better than The Wicked Spoon.

More Info: Venetian Meetings 

MJ


Las Vegas Part 3: Bouchon @ the Venetian

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The Skinny:  Our last night at the Ventetian for our company retreat was spent at Bouchon.  We were all given a budget of $70 per person that would be used for dinner.  This would be my second time at the Thomas Keller restaurant chain, so I knew what to expect.

Since one of my co-worker and I wanted some Seafood, we decided to combine our budget and get the Grand Plateau Seafood platter ($110); and share the Poulet Roti ($29.50) with some Mac & Cheese.  The Grand Plateau comes with 1 whole Lobster, 16 Oysters, 8 Shrimp, 8 Clams, 9 Mussels, seasonal Crab, and a special selection.  The Poulet Roti itself is a roasted Chicken with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caramelized Figs, Pickled Ramps and Chicken Jus.

The High:  The Grand Paleau was a gluttenous dream come true.  It was fresh, clean, and an evil tower of Shellfish with Cocktail, Vinegar, and Horsradish sauces on the side.  The petite Lobster I shared was sweet and the Oysters were briny like the sea.  I didn’t really care for the Mussels and Clams though.

I wish I could remember what the Poulet Roti and the sauce it came with, tasted like, but for once in Las Vegas, the Chicken wasn’t dry at all.  I also barely remember what the Mac & Cheese was like, but it was cheesy and gooey and had a nice crust on top.

I guess Two Much Food and Gin & Tonics numbs out the pallet….and memory.

The Low:  I was about to say, I got nothing and that everything was solid, but then I realized… we didn’t get any “seasonal crab” or that “special selection.”  I think we got jibbed, but I have to admit, we didn’t really need the extra Crustaceans.

Would you come back again?  Sure, why not!

More Info:   Bouchon Bistro  | 3355 South Las Vegas  | Boulevard, Las Vegas – (702) 414-6200

– MJ


Las Vegas: Blue Ribbon Sushi

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The Skinny:  The last and final restaurant I wanted to try inside the Cosmopolitan.  When my friend from LA said he wanted Japanese food, I automatically thought of this restaurant.  A bunch of my co-workers had been raving about this chicken dish so I had to try it.  Blue Ribbon participated in Restaurant Week, so what a great time to try it!  The pre-set menu was $50 and it consisted of:

  1. First Course:
    Choice of: Miso Soup ~OR~ Hijiki Salad
  2. Second Course:
    Chef’s Choice of Assorted Sushi
  3. Third Course:
    Choice of: Braised Short Ribs with Celery Root Puree & Truffle Teriyaki ~OR~  Fried Chicken “Blue Ribbon Style” (which was fried chicken with a spicy seasoning accompanied with honey wasabi sauce)
  4. Fourth Course:
    Choice of: Ginger Bread Pudding ~OR~ Green Tea Cream Brulee

My friend and I tried one of each of the first course, we both were not fans of either.  Second course you can’t go wrong with.  It was a spicy tuna roll, one piece of salmon nigiri & one piece of tuna nigiri.  Third Course, my friend had the braised short ribs and I tried the fried chicken.  Both were delicious.

The Good:  Great atmosphere.  Has a traditional yet trendy feel to it.  Service was really good, food came out in a timely manner.  I LOVED the honey wasabi sauce for the chicken.  It was a sweet sauce with a kick.  The wasabi wasn’t overpowering at all.

The Bad:  A little too expensive for what it is, in my opinion at least.  A bowl of shishito for $10 when I can buy it at the store for $2?  Yea, kind of ruins it when you know exactly how much the dish really costs.  The Ginger Bread Pudding was disgusting! I know it says it in the description GINGER bread pudding, but I thought it was ginger bread cookie type of pudding.  Nope, had chunks of ginger root in it, almost made me throw up.  My own personal experience, I just REALLY dislike ginger.  So imagine the one thing you hate most, eating that dish with it in it not knowing it’s in there.  Good thing that wasn’t the second course or it would’ve ruined my whole dinner.

Would you come back again?  Probably not,  unless they had something like the Restaurant week at that price, it’s a little to expensive for me for Japanese food.  I’d rather spend my money at Yellowtail at the Bellagio

More Info:  Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill Las Vegas | 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South | Las Vegas, NV 89109 | This is a splurge restaurant.

– Sniper Tam  


Redondo Beach Crab House

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The Skinny:  Over Labor Day weekend I went to Redondo Beach Pier for some Seafood with my mom.  She wanted to get this flat Fish that’s kind of like a small Halibut, (not sure what it is….it could just be a baby Halibut), but the price per pound was ridiculous.  At the Redondo Beach Crab House, it was $30 something for a pound of that fish, and each one was no less than 4.  So we settled for some Fried Clams with Fries, a $45 Sashimi platter, Nakji Bokum (A Spicy Korean Octopus dish) with cold Somen Noodles, and a bottle of Hite.

The Sashimi Platter comes with Baby Abalone, Tuna, Halibut, Hamachi, Salmon, Red Snapper and some of the Flat Fish my mom wanted.  The restaurant also provided us with some Ban-chan (Korean side dishes), fresh Lettuce to wrap stuff up, and some chopped up Sea Squirt….which I didn’t touch.

 

The Good:  The Sashimi Platter was actually a whole lot better than I was expecting.  The thick slices of Fish seemed fresh, especially the Salmon, which was sweet and fatty.  If the Sashimi selections came prepackaged in vacuum sealed plastic bag from China, I couldn’t tell.  The Nakji Bokum was also very good and tasty.  The Octopus was cooked just right, which made them very tender and sweet.  The sauce it came with was a lot spicier than I was expecting, but the cool Somen Noodles and extra veggies helped balance the heat out.

The Bad:  The fried breaded Clams wasn’t really needed but I just wanted something fried at the time.  They were a bit dry and only a little bit clamy, but they weren’t awful.

Would you come back again?  Not really….but the view was good.

More Info: Redondo Beach Crab House | yelp | 100 Fisherman’s Wharf Ste F | Redondo Beach, CA 90277  | Not the cheapest food in the world

– MJ