Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nobu (Caesar's Palace | Nobu Hotel) - Las Vegas, NV

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Exterior

Caesar's Palace has quickly become famous for their Bacchanal Buffet, which is now the top-rated buffet in Las Vegas. Yet, during the holiday season, wait times were hours long, and prices were at their highest. Moreover, a quick visit inside the buffet did show lots of good options and a nice design (the same designers designed Cafe Too as well), but this experience was hampered by loud catwalk music from the speakers. the Given these factors and our limited time in Las Vegas, we decided to pursue another option: Nobu, located next to the Nobu Hotel lobby inside Caesar's Palace.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Interior
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Lunch Placesetting

Unlike the lengthy lines at Bacchanal Buffet, Nobu had plenty of seating available for lunch, and still a large variety of lunch options. It has a casual, yet classy atmosphere that provided a calming effect. After perusing the menu, and asking the server about the different options, we decided to go with four options for our party of four: Nobu Bento Box (55 USD), Nobu Signature Omakase (65 USD), Nobu Chef's Choice Omakase (85 USD), and a Newman Ramen (18 USD).

Omakase wise, the distinction between Nobu Signature and Nobu Chef's Choice comes down to different selections of dishes, and differing quality of ingredients. Notably, the Nobu Chef's Choice comes with an extra meat entree, alongside the rest of the course sequence: appetizer, sashimi, fish entree, miso soup, sushi, and dessert.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Ramen with Condiments

We were intrigued that ramen was on the menu, and for the seemingly high price of 18 USD, and thus we had to order it. The price was right: this was definitely the best ramen we have had!

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Ramen
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Ramen Detail

Enter a luxurious, unctous bowl of quality ramen with quality ingredients. Here, we had chewy, bouncy, toothsome ramen noodles cooked to a pleasant al dente--not hard to chew yet not soft--, a sweet shoyu tonkotsu pork broth, thinly sliced peppers, fresh corn, sweet, soy sauce marinated bamboo sprouts, soy sauce glazed pork belly, a warm, marinated soft boiled egg, green onion and cilantro, side condiments of toasted sesame seeds and garlic chili oil, and an interesting, specially designed, Nobu soup spoon with dimples on the bottom. What made this bowl of ramen really unique was the lessened emphasis on the heavy and savory seen in traditional tonkotsu broths: rather, this broth exuded more of a sweet soy sauce and miso flavor, along with lots of porcine flavors, that made the bowl much more enjoyable to consume; you didn't finish the bowl feeling heavy and tired. Moreover, you could easily see the great attention to detail, with the pleasantly cooked ramen noodles, expertly sliced peppers, warm pork belly, and warm soft boiled egg; each ingredient was carefully prepared for a uniform bowl. This is certainly a unique, extremely high quality bowl of ramen worth ordering.

(There's even a press release for the new man ramen-- supposedly, the broth is made with pork and chicken, which explains why the broth didn't feel as heavy.)

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Chef Creation Omakase Salmon Tartare with Caviar
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Chef Creation Salmon Tartare with Caviar

After the ramen, came the first course of both omakases; the waiters and waitresses that brought each of the courses made sure to describe the title of each dish as well as the critical ingredients in each. As part of the Chef Creation Omakase was this Salmon Tartare with Caviar, Wasabi Soy Sauce, Carrot Garnish, and Mountain Peach. The salmon was rich and fatty, and the medium wasabi soy sauce helped to cut the fattiness without removing the salmon flavor if not used too heavily; meanwhile, the caviar provided light pops of sea flavor. The mountain peach, which was cold and slightly acidic, helped to cleanse the palate to ready ourselves for the next course.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Signature Yellowtail, Jalepeno, Ponzu

As part of Nobu Signature Omakase came three slices of Yellowtail, Jalepeno, and Ponzu.  This was a classic combination of flavors, but with high quality fish. The jalepeno provided a nice light kick along the bites of yellowtail.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Chef Creation Kampachi on Greens, Handrolls, Cilantro Dipping Sauce

The second course of the Chef Creation Omakase was Kanpachi on Greens, Handrolls and Cilantro Dipping Sauce. The sesame ginger soy sauce accentuated the smooth kanpachi's flavors while mixed with the greens, while the handrolls and cilantro dipping sauce provided a verdant contrast in contrast to the fish and sesame ginger components. Great knifework and variety on the vegetable handrolls, as well.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Signature Tuna with Sesame Ginger Sauce, Handrolls

Meanwhile, the Nobu Signature Omakase's second course was Tuna with Sesame Ginger Sauce and Lettuce Handrolls. Here, the greater concentration of the sesame ginger soy helped to accentuate the hearty, meaty, and tender tuna, while the vegetables provided additional balance.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Green Tea

As we waited on our dishes, we decided to enjoy some green tea (3 USD) as well. They had some fantastic green tea--nicely roasted and verdant--and the cups were constantly refilled throughout the meal.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Alaskan Black Cod with Miso

The Chef Creation Omakase's fish entree was Alaskan Black Cod with Miso, a signature Nobu dish. This was elaborately presented--at first, the leaf was connected together so that it looked like the fish was part of a package. The black cod was extremely flaky, buttery, and tender, with lots of sweet miso flavor. We didn't care so much, however, for the char on the outside; Nobu has trayfuls of black cod before service that are not charred at all, but for service, they need to heat it up again, which possibly caused the slightly excessive char on this piece of fish.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Tasmanian Ocean Trout, Butter Yuzu Sauce, Fried Spinach and Garlic Chips

The Nobu Signature Omakase's fish entree was Tasmanian Ocean Trout, Butter Yuzu Sauce, Fried Spinach and Garlic Chips. The tasmanian ocean trout is like salmon, and was extremely soft, tender, and smooth. In contrast to the rich, seaweed like fried spinach was the acidic, ponzu like butter yuzu sauce, which helped to cut down on the richness.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Bento Box: Vegetables, Black Cod, Creamy Rock Shrimp
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Bento Box: Sashimi Salad, Sushi

As we were midway enjoying the fish entrees, the bento box arrived. This came with lots of signature Nobu options, including those that were in our entrees. We had the same tuna salad as the Nobu Signature omakase, a slightly smaller portion of the black cod, rock shrimp tempura with creamy spicy aioli, and sauteed vegetables in spicy garlic sauce, and a bowl of miso soup. For the sushi section, we had a salmon cut roll and yellowtail, whitefish, and ebi nigiri. Besides the slightly less fancy plates, all of these were just as high quality as the omakase options. The rock shrimp tempura was a fun contrast compared to the rest of the plates: thinly battered, crunchy rock shrimp lightly dressed with the creamy, slightly spicy aioli.  The vegetables had plenty of fragrance from the wok, and were made intriguing with the added spicy garlic sauce, which provided plenty of heat. The sushi, likewise, was of high quality: fresh, generous amounts of fish, nicely seasoned and boiled shrimp.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Miso Soup

The miso soup, likewise, was very impressive. Here, the dashi stock took mainstage: it was extremely savory, and full of seafood flavor. Coupled with the thinly sliced green onions, light white miso, and thin rectangles of soft tofu, it was a pleasant sipping soup. Nobu does a great job at making seemingly typical dishes special.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Beef Tobanyaki Cooking
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Beef Tobanyaki
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Beef Tobanyaki

Next came the Chef Creation's added beef course: a glamerous showcase of Beef Tobanyaki. This dish screamed meaty, with the flavorful enoki and maitake mushrooms and four pieces of seared wagyu beef. Here, you had a choice to sear the beef as much as you wanted-- they came rare to allow as much flexibility as possible. The beef was extremely smooth and tender, with barely, if any any gristle; it was nicely finished finished off with butter and soy sauce notes. This was definitely one of the best pieces of beef I've had of late!

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Signature, Chef Creation Omakase Sushi
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Signature, Chef Creation Omakase Sushi
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Chef Creation and Nobu Signature Omakase Sushi

After a slight period of enjoying two additional bowls of miso soup that came with our omakases, it was time for the sushi. With the Chef Creation Omakase, we had big eye tuna, japanese red snapper, tasmanian ocean trout, barracuda, and Nobu egg based tamago. Meanwhile, with the Nobu Signature Omakase, we had big eye tuna, whitefish, ebi, and tamago-- much like the ones seen in the Nobu Bento. The Chef Creation Omakase's selections were definitely more intriguing--the red snapper was exceptionally smooth on the palate and came with a shiso leaf below the fish, while the barracuda exuded plenty of fish oil and complex flavors. The Nobu tamago, on the other hand, was quite stunning: it was like eating cheesecake, and was extremely fluffy. The regular tomago was like enjoying a pleasant vanilla custard--nice, but the Nobu tamago is definitely a must try. All in all, excellent renditions of each type of sushi.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Dessert Placesetting

Our waiters then cleaned up our tables and got the setting ready for dessert! This wait, unfortunately, took a slightly long while, for the pastry chef was quite busy; the servers profusely apologized as we were waiting. In the meantime, we sampled a lot more green tea and looked at other people's desserts. We were especially amazed by a shaved ice dessert, which came with fresh mochi, condensed milk, and fresh mango and raspberry puree for flavoring. Given that some of our omakase items came directly from the regular menu, we hoped that they would select this ice, along with some other selections, for dessert.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Bento Box: Green Tea and White Russian Ice Cream Mochi, Japanese Mountain Peach

For the Bento Box, we received two ice cream mochi filled with white russian ice cream and green tea ice cream. To cleanse the palate, a mountain peach was added. Both of the mochi exteriors were pliable, chewy, and fragrant, while the interiors had extremely smooth, creamy, and firm ice cream-- they freeze these really well before serving! The ice cream was not in your face in terms of flavor; rather, it was more the flavor accentuating the cream base.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Trio Dessert (Omakase)


Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Japanese Fried Donut with Milk Chocolate, Raspberry
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Chocolate Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Cherry Blossom Ice Cream Mochi, Japanese Mountain Peach

For one of the omakases, we ended with this trio dessert platter, consisting of a japanese style donut with dark chocolate filling and dark chocolate ganache and raspberry sauce, a piece of chocolate (there's a unique name to it which I can't spell out), and a cherry blossom ice cream mochi with mountain peach. The donut was quite unique, with a light exterior, buttery interior, and a classic combination of rich dark chocolate with raspberry. The chocolate was like a glorified chocolate crunch bar, with little pieces of crunchiness embedded in the chocolate, along with some pretty painting on the exterior. Like the other mochi, the cherry blossom ice cream mochi had a creamy, firm, ice cream and pliable exterior, but featured intriguing floral notes.

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Chocolate Kunaku Crunch, Sesame Brittle, Caramelized Banana, Rasberry, Caramel, Sour Cream Ice Cream
Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Chocolate Crunch Cake, Sesame Crunch, Caramelized Banana, Raspberry, Caramel, Sour Cream Ice Cream

And for our other omakase dessert, we had this Chocolate Kinako Crunch, which featured sesame brittle, caramelized banana, raspberry, caramel, and sour cream ice cream. This was a dense, truffle like cake-- it was like enjoying a truffle, except slightly softer, and with plenty of crunch embedded in the bottom layer; definitely a unique cake! The other ingredients, though like decoration, added some welcome inspiration to the otherwise rich and deep chocolate. The sour cream ice cream and its crumble was like enjoying a smooth cheesecake, minus the richness and heaviness that cheesecake brings, making for a light yet extremely enjoyable palate cleanser. Quite a thoughtful dessert!

Nobu (Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel)- Las Vegas, NV: Nobu Way

All in all, it was a delightful experience dining at Nobu. There were plenty of creative twists to the dishes we had, which we greatly appreciated, although the omakase dishes could have deviated from the regular menu slightly more so. Alongside the high quality food was some great, professional service: all the servers were willing to help make the experience better, and tended to all of our requests (including repeating the name of the dish several times so I would have the information available for the blog) in a friendly manner. The environment truly provides a sense of quality and calm, and altogether, this Nobu certainly fits the bill for a great modern Japanese fine dining experience!


Nobu (Las Vegas, Caesar's Palace)
Caesar's Palace- Nobu Hotel
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV
Tel: (702) 785-6628 

Nobu on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Two Bedroom Penthouse Suite @ The Mirage Hotel and Casino- Las Vegas, NV

The Mirage Hotel and Casino- Las Vegas, NV

This trip to Vegas was slightly different from our previous trips; namely, getting to the destination was quite different. We had left on Thursday, hoping to beat the weekend traffic rush. Instead, we hit three major traffic jams, caused by interesting asphalt machines that were a cool sight when switching to the 15 freeway, one minor traffic accident, and one to stare at Nevada's "No Tolerance" signs at Primm (meaning, no driving over 70 miles per hour). Only to soothe us during our first traffic jam was a call from the Mirage-- a worried VIP concierge wondering about our transportation plans to Vegas, for the Mirage offers complimentary limousine rides from the Las Vegas McCarran Airport as part of the Suite Life Package. But we said no, and she ended the call stating: we'll see you here soon!

Soon was three hours later than we had anticipated (making for a seven hour drive, including a one hour lunch break). After all the driving, difficulty in finding a spot in the self-parking garage, and a stop at the VIP Lounge, it was finally time to see the suite.

The Mirage Hotel and Casino- Las Vegas, NV
Penthouse Suite @ The Mirage Hotel and Casino- Las Vegas, NV
(A-E = 26-30th floors respectively)

With the black colored "The Suite Life" keys, we were able to access our elevator to go up to our rooms. This key also serves as VIP passes to different dining establishments at the Mirage, so it holds quite some value!

Penthouse Suite @ The Mirage Hotel and Casino- Las Vegas, NV
Penthouse Suite @ The Mirage Hotel and Casino- Las Vegas, NV
Penthouse Suite @ The Mirage Hotel and Casino- Las Vegas, NV

Down the blue themed hallway (matching one of the Penthouse Suite themes featured on the Mirage website), we finally reached our suite. There were two entries: a main double door entry to the living room, and a secondary entry to the second bedroom. Our keys allowed us to gain entry to both entrances.

Monday, January 6, 2014

VIP Lounge (The Mirage Hotel and Casino)- Las Vegas, NV

VIP Lounge @ The Mirage Hotel and Casino- Las Vegas, NV: Exterior

In a a wall of frosted glass and an exterior from the Mirage's French Polynesian theme (now being transformed to a simple, modern feel with dark colors and pinks) sits the Mirage's VIP lounge, situated between the check in area and the main port cochere's entrance into the hotel.

Like the Bellagio's VIP lounge, it sits unadorned with any signage outside, but unlike the Bellagio, is marked on the hotel maps with VIP. And after closing time (approximately 9pm), there is a sign stating that the VIP lounge is closed.

VIP Lounge @ The Mirage Hotel and Casino- Las Vegas, NV: Interior Panorama

The inside of the Mirage VIP lounge is small and intimate. The check in area, encased in white marble and topped with chandeliers, dominates as one walks inside to the lounge. This aspect--brought due to the smaller square footage of the lounge--however, detriments people from actually staying inside the lounge during their stay, for throughout the day, the check in area is busy with people checking in, only to be a small distance away from the rest of the lounge. Furthermore, after the first visit, one is frequently asked to present their special room keys before sitting down in the lounge.

For those checking in/out, this sitting area provides a sense of arrival-- a convenience to sit down and enjoy a few beverages before heading elsewhere. For us, we were able to check-in through the Mirage's Suite Life package, but those with adequate MLife (MGM Resort International's players card) ranking can also access the lounge. We overheard quite a number of people who had their rooms complimentary!