A lot of restaurants are all bark and no bite. They are full of too much hype and not enough flavor. From food trucks to hole in the walls to 5 star establishments, I'm here to answer the question on everyone's mind, "Is it really that good!" I am not an Iron Chef let alone a line cook. I'm just an ordinary girl who loves to eat extraordinary food.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Max Brenner- Las Vegas

 We have been to the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas so many times. I don’t know why I’ve never heard or seen this place. On one of my social networks, I did ask if anyone has been here and a few people responded that I must try it and compared it to Serendipity. If you read a previous blog post, you’d know that I am a big fan of Serendipity so I had to try Max Brenner.

Even on a hot summer night in Las Vegas, I had to order their hot white chocolate. It’s description reads “A clean, milky flavor with a light fragrance of roses.” So of course when it was served the first thing I had to do was smell it. It was served in a cute little “hug mug” and not your typical hot chocolate/tea cup. I couldn’t smell roses. However, I did smell the prominent scent of white chocolate. At first I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t topped with whipped cream. But as soon as I took a sip, I really was very impressed with how much white chocolate you can taste. It was like drinking  melted white chocolate, except in a thinner form. I could’ve drank the whole thing. I would’ve actually, if my son hadn’t tasted it and wanted it for himself.

For starters, we ordered the Really Cheesy-Really Crunchy Mac n Cheese. It had fresh tomatoes and bacon and served with a shot of marinara sauce. The really crunchy part of the description was on point. The mac n cheese was topped with a bread crumb mixture and then broiled so it gave the dish a nice crispy texture on top. The really cheesy part, on the other hand wasn’t exactly true. The acidity of the tomatoes cut into the cheesiness of the dish and it’s juices watered down the sauce. This dish wasn’t bad, but it just is not my idea of what a mac n cheese should taste like.

For my entrée, I ordered the Black Sesame salmon. This was accompanied by a vegetable stir fry with garlic spinach and wasabi aioli. It also came with a little potion glass of soy sauce. The stir fry had really good flavor. The salmon was coated with the black sesames and was cooked well but it definitely needed the soy sauce. The black sesames gave it a little smoky taste but it did need a little salt and some acid.

Ed ordered The Brenner Burger- Pure America Kobe beef patty with “Max’s secret barbeque sauce, lettuce, tomato, cheddar and a Vidalia onion ring on top.” It was served with waffle fries dusted with chili and cocoa powder. I took a bite out of his burger and it was good. The burger was cooked medium. It was a good size burger and was cooked perfectly.

The kids ordered the cheese pizza and the mac 'n cheese.  I didn’t try it. The crust was so thin and the cheese was a little scant. My daughter said she wished she had ordered something else. The mac 'n cheese tasted like the adult version but without the tomatoes. My son normally devours mac 'n cheese, but not this one.

There were so many desserts to choose from and so many that I wanted to try. We ended up ordering  the “Max-Wich” and the Milk Chocolate Apple Caramel Crisp. The “Max-wich” is described as “decadent dark chocolate truffle ice cream and pure chocolate chunks hugged between old fashioned very rich chocolate cookies and drizzled with a boost of pure chocolate served with pure dark chocolate ganache for dipping. The portion was big enough to share. The ice cream was good but there wasn’t enough of it. The cookie was good, but was hard. We only took a couple bites out of this and were done. The Apple Crisp I did enjoy very much. It was topped with oatmeal streusel, served with toffee ice cream and a shot of caramel. I thought this was one of the best apple crisps I’ve had. The surprise in this dish was the melted chocolate at the bottom of the cast iron ramiken. I doused the dish with all the caramel. When you get that perfect bite of streusel, apples, chocolate, caramel  paired with the ice cream, it was divine. Although the ice cream didn’t taste much like toffee, it was still good combined with the crisp. I was a little disappointed that it didn’t come with more ice cream because it was such a small amount that you don’t get to have it with every bite of the apple crisp. I also thought that in comparison to the “Max-Wich” the apple crisp was such a small portion.

Our total with tax and tip was $125. Overall, the savory dishes were just okay. Nothing too different or spectacular about them. It wasn’t Serendipity caliber but I would go back just for dessert.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wazuzu- Las Vegas, NV

Wazuzu is a Pan-Asian restaurant featuring flavors of China, japan, India, Singapore and Thailand. It is located inside the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.

For starters we ordered the Red Dragon Roll- ($30) I was expecting more from this roll. It tasted like a typical roll you could find at any Japanese restaurant. There was nothing special about it. This was definitely not worth the money. We also ordered the shumai ($9) made with pork and shrimp. I tasted more shrimp than pork. It filling was very moist and the skin was supple. The texture and taste of the shumai were perfect.

My daughter ordered the Teriyaki Beef Bowl ($18). (Not pictured) I don’t know what cut of beef that was used but it was extremely juicy and tender. The teriyaki flavor did not overwhelm the beef. The beef was sliced thin enough where it wasn’t tough to chew or swallow. I can tell by the look on her face she was thoroughly enjoying it so I only had one strip of beef. Believe me, I wanted more.

Our first entrée was the Miso Marinated Black Cod ($25) with a side of white Jasmine rice ($5). All I could say is WOW!  The fish was marinated very well. You could taste the miso and it was cooked where you can taste the caramelization of the marinade. The cod was cooked to perfection. It was firm yet soft; flaky but it didn’t break into little pieces. You didn’t need to put too much pressure on your fork to cut it. When you put it in your mouth, it practically melted. At first I was disappointed that the skin wasn’t crispy. So I took it off and put it to the side. I guess I didn’t take all of it off because ate some of it with the fish. It too melted in your mouth. It wasn’t slimy nor was it tough to eat. To my surprise it was also very good. Typing about it is making my mouth water and can really remember the taste and texture of it. SO GOOD!

The drunken noodles with chicken ($18) was our second entrée. The waitress asked us how hot we wanted it on a scale of 1-5. We chose 2 because of the kids. “Fresh rice noodles with Thai Basil, sweet soy sauce, chilies and onions” is how it is described on their menu. Think chow fun to the 10th power. The flavor was amazing. You could taste the sweet soy which was enhanced by the spice of the chilies. When I first looked at the bowl I was confused about cherry tomatoes mixed in with this dish. But, it worked. They gave it that pop and extra sweetness of flavor when you bit into a tomato with the noodles and chicken. You can choose shrimp, beef or chicken. Even with no protein, this dish would be great. I wish I would’ve gotten it a little more spicy though.

For dessert we ordered the chocolate cake ($10) and the ice cream trio ($9).  When I asked our waitress if it was any good she said it was absolutely decadent. The only decadent thing about it was the chocolate ganache that was poured over the cake. It wasn't chocolate cake. It was more like thick layers of chocolate mousse and in between were thin layers of chocolate cake. The ice cream trio came with a scoop of coconut, coffee, and chocolate hazelnut. My favorite of the three was the coconut. It wasn’t too sweet and you can really taste the coconut flavor. The coffee tasted like unsweetened frozen creamed coffee. A generic store brand coffee ice cream tastes better. Then the chocolate hazelnut, BLAH. That was probably my fault thinking it was going to taste like Nutella. I probably should’ve gone with my first instinct and got the Thai Crepe. These desserts were disappointing and definitely not worth the money.

The bill came out to $175 with tax and tip. Besides the debacles of their roll and desserts, all the other items were very good. I could see myself wanting to come back here. We went here on a Saturday at 9 and had to wait 45 minutes. Overall, I thought it was worth the wait.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Serendipity 3- Las Vegas

I’ve always wanted to go to Serendipity. The only one I know of is located in New York. When I went to Las Vegas I was very excited to see that there was one there.  I’ve seen it on The FoodNetwork, movies, and read things about their food and desserts in articles. I read an article that they have a $65 hot dog and saw on a show that they have a $1000 sundae entitled “The Opulence.” The hot dog, maybe I’d order, but the sundae, well, I’m not crazy, nor am I rich. That specific hot dog was not on the menu. So our order consisted of wild wings, truffled mac n cheese with bacon, the Las Vegas sandwich, black and white sundae and the frrrozen hot chocolate.

Wild Wings ($12) This was OK. nothing spectacular. They weren’t too crispy, although the description did say they were charred. It tasted more of spices than spicy. It wasn’t as vinegary as most hot wings. These were not the type of wings that when they are served you smell the sauce through your nose and it makes your eyes water. It had a subtle heat.  I’ve had better wings and would pass on ordering this.
Truffled mac n cheese ($15) - we added bacon (+$1) . This was really good. The taste of truffle makes a huge difference. You go from eating mac n cheese to MAC N CHEESE.  It didn’t have a ton of cheese oozing from each scoop you served, but there was enough. Enough to get the flavor and satisfaction. The bacon was still crispy so you get the crunch of the bacon and the velvety texture of the noodles. My daughter even told me "Mommy, no offense, but this might be better than yours."

Las Vegas steak sandwich ($20) - marinated flank steak, cheese, bacon and fried eggs  on a toasted baguette.. OK, first this sandwich can be shared. It’s really huge! I’d have to say this sandwich was really good! The eggs weren’t too runny. The steak was soft enough to bite into. The bacon was thick. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the bread was a little too toasted for me. I like crunch on the outside but it may have been a little too toasted. I would order this again but ask them not to toast it so much.

For dessert we ordered the Black and White Sundae ($14) . It had huge scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, topped with hot fudge, marshmallow cream and white chocolate fudge. Whipped cream and white chocolate shavings covered the top of the entire sundae with a chocolate covered strawberry to garnish. It was good and satisfied my sweet tooth. There’s not much that can go wrong with all those components.
Ahhhh.. now it was time for the frozzzen hot chocolate, their claim to fame. I took a sip and wasn’t too impressed. I took another sip and then another. It was actually pretty good. It had deep chocolate flavor but it wasn’t sweet. I’ve heard people say that it’s watered down, but mine wasn’t watered down at all. Maybe they waited too long to try it. Some sips were different than others though. At times there were crunchy pieces of ice, but not like the Snoopy Snow-cone maker type crunchy. Others, you get that smooth “smoothie” effect. Again, it was big enough for 2, possibly 3 people. I don’t think I would get this again because I do want to try either their white chocolate or oreo cookie chocolate flavors.

Our total bill with all that food plus 3 fountain drinks and a child’s drink came out to $106 with tax and tip. It may seem a little overpriced but their portions are really big. I was pretty satisfied with the things we ate and would absolutely eat her again.