Tea and Tranquility 250 feet Above the Strip

The strip can be sensory overload, flashing lights and neon, sounds of slot machines and crowds of people. Now imagine, literally, being above it all, like you’re floating up in the clouds. Soothing tea, peaceful music, quiet conversations, this is the tea lounge at the Mandarin Oriental. With its floor to ceiling windows and views right up the center of the strip, you are truly above it all.

Taoist believe doing a little, is better than doing a lot. This statement explains your arrival to the Mandarin Oriental hotel. You enter from an isolated driveway, hidden from the strip, and walk past huge urns into a bare, nondescript lobby.  The real lobby is on the 23rd floor, next to the tea lounge.  When you arrive on the 23rd floor, there are no erupting volcanos or giant lions to greet you, only Vegas as seen from 23 flights up.  You can even see the area from the ground, as it looks like the builders cut a slice out of the exterior walls and replaced them with glass.


The tea lounge, like the entrance to the Mandarin Oriental, is nothing elaborate, just a few couches and velvet chairs in the section separating the check-in area from the Mandarin Oriental Bar. Like most places on the strip, the tea lounge is not about stretching your dollar. I’ve been to other tea times that offer more food for less money, but I don’t think there is a more peaceful place on the Strip.
We opted for the vegetarian selection of sandwiches with our tea, which you can call ahead and request. The vegetarian option featured little cones, filled with roasted vegetables and hummus, as well as cucumber and tomato sandwiches. My tea, Peach Artisan blooming, and for dessert, a selection of pastries from Chef Phillepe Angibeau. While my taste buds usually favor the savory over the sweet, the pastries were a highlight of tea time.


The view from the Tea Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental.

The view up the Strip from the Tea Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental.

I think this is a must visit for anyone looking to escape all the commotion of the Strip and float up in the clouds above it all. I would suggest visiting the tea lounge at the Mandarin Oriental during the winter months when the sun sets earlier in the evening, giving you a chance to see the Strip “turn on” as as the sun sets.

Classic English Afternoon Tea $38/person
3752 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
23rd Floor
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Get Your Meatless Monday on at Ra Sushi

It’s been a while since my last post. I’m back in school now and between work and school, I have a lot less time to write. While I haven’t had as much time to write, I’ve still kept up my commitment to No Meat on Monday. The other night, I met a friend for dinner at Ra Sushi. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s a lot easier to stay on a vegetarian diet when you’re cooking for yourself, but when you’re out and about, it becomes much more difficult. As I started to glance at the menu, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many meatless options Ra Sushi had, and good ones at that. I wouldn’t be stuck with a boring salad and an order of french fries, the most common, yet lousy excuses for vegetarian menu items at most restaurants.

I decided Ra Sushi would be the first restaurant I would highlight as a Meatless Monday dining option. Ra Sushi is conveniently located on The Strip on the outdoor promenade of The Fashion Shall Mall, directly across the street from the Wynn. Not only does Ra Sushi have some great meatless menu items, they also have a great Happy Hour, Monday-Saturday 3-7p, with drink and food items starting at $2. Best of all, several of the vegetarian options at Ra Sushi are included on their Happy Hour Menu.

I decided I’d try the Shishito Peppers since they were on the happy hour menu. I’d never heard of Shishito Peppers before I tasted them at Ra Sushi, but now I’m definitely a fan. Shishito Peppers are a Japanese green pepper, smaller than a jalapeno. Unlike a jalapeno, they are more mild in flavor and very thin skinned. The Shishito peppers at Ra Sushi are sauteed in a mix of Asian spices, sesame seeds and what tastes like sesame oil. The sesame adds a nutty, roasted flavor to the Asian spices that the peppers are cooked with.  The plate is garnished with a red sauce that taste like a spicy tomato pure. Shishito peppers are a great starter the whole table can enjoy.

Since I was at a sushi restaurant, I had to order sushi, right? I opted for the vegetable tempura roll. It’s filled with tempura battered fried asparagus and sweet potato, then wrapped in Nori and rice. The roll is topped with tempura battered Japanese eggplant, which has a more delicate flavor than American eggplant. The roll is garnished with colorful tempura flakes, and drizzled with eel sauce. Both the sweet potato and eel sauce add a hint of sweetness while the tempura batter and flakes add a crispy texture to the roll. And if you didn’t already know, Nori (seaweed), is also a great source of protein as well as other vitamins and minerals.

I also tried the Dengaku Tofu. Tofu has been a major source of protein in vegetarian diets in the East for nearly 2000 years. Though many people complain it can be bland, the red miso ginger glazing process used to make Dengaku Tofu at Ra Sushi, adds a savory flavor and caramelized texture to the tofu. The Dengaku Tofu is topped with crispy pieces of Japanese eggplant and snow peas, and served with tempura sauce.

These three veggies options were just the tip of the iceberg at Ra Sushi. Here’s a brief run down of the meatless options on the menu at Ra Sushi. (HH) denotes an item that is included on the Happy Hour menu. The last 2 items on my list, the Nutty Grilled Chicken Salad and the Tuna² Salad, become great Meatless Monday choices if you hold the meat. In addition to having some tasty ingredients, like cilantro and mandarin orange slices, both salads include nuts, which are a great source of protein.

  • Cucumber Kimchee Salad
  • Dengaku Tofu (HH)
  • Edamame (HH)
  • Garlic Sugar Snap Peas (HH)
  • Miso Soup
  • Miso Hot Soup
  • Pineapple Cheese Wonton (HH)
  • Seaweed Salad (HH)
  • Shishito Peppers (HH)
  • Veggie Sushi Roll (HH)
  • Vegetable Tempura Bento Box
  • Vegetable Tempura Roll
  • Nutty Grilled Chicken Salad*
  • Tuna² Salad*
(HH) – denotes an item that is part of the Happy Hour menu
* hold the meat on these and they are great meatless options.

So the next time you’re enjoying a little shopping at Fashion Show Mall, whether it’s Monday or not, head over to Ra Sushi for a tasty meatless meal.

Ra Sushi
3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Fashion Show Mall Outdoor Promenade
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Visit SushiSamba and Support Japan

If you’re in Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago or New York, I encourage you to stop by SushiSamba and support the relief efforts in Japan. The sushi chef in each location has created a special roll, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Red Cross to assist relief efforts in Japan.

The other day after work, I headed over to SushiSamba in the Palazzo to make my contribution. As soon as I sat down at the bar, I was greeted by the pleasant whiff from the fresh mint leaves the bar back was pulling from the stalk of mint in his hands. I was happy to find out I had caught Happy Hour and the $6 Mojitos and Caipirinhas. The guys next to me had ordered seviche, which looked good. I ordered the Yellowtail Seviche based on the bartenders recommendation, and the Chef Yuki’s Japan Disaster Relief Roll.

Chef Yuki’s Disaster Relief Roll is a tuna roll with eel, shiso leaf, kaiware, radish, and kaiso kira kira. The shiso leaf added a slight minty taste to the roll and the kaiware, the green sprouts sticking out of the roll, added a hint of peppery flavor. The plate is decorated in spicy sauce, which takes the heat of the roll up a notch.

Chef Yuki's Japan Disaster Relief Roll, Yellowtail Seviche, and Mojito

As much as I enjoyed the Yellowtail Seviche and Disaster Relief Roll, the pièce de résistance was dessert. Usually when I go to a sushi restaurant, I end my meal with a piece of mochi ice cream, which SushiSamba has and is made in house. But I don’t consider SushiSamba your traditional sushi restaurant, so I decided to switch it up. I opted for something with a little bit more of a Brazilian influence, so I ordered the Cassava Carrot Cake. It was so good that it was gone before I realized I hadn’t taken a picture of it. The carrot cake was moist and spongy. It’s served on a velvety bed of cinnamon cream and is topped with a scoop of brown butter ice cream that has a refreshing sweetness to it. The plate is drizzled with orange reduction that has a nice kick, almost like a liqueur. Each element tasted wonderful individually, but to be truly appreciated, each fork full should include a little bit of each.

The Disaster Relief campaign runs through the end of March. Each roll is $12 and each location has a different roll. You can also support relief efforts in Japan by donating directly to the Red Cross.

Inside the Shops at the Palazzo
3327 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Holy Cow, Shakes and Buns

I know it’s been a long time since my last post, but something special happened in Las Vegas that inspired me to get back to writing about my favorite thing, food. Wednesday night was the grand opening of The Cosmopolitan. In total, The Cosmopolitan boasts 13 eateries. On opening night, one of my friends made reservations at Holsteins, a high-end burger joint at The Cosmopolitan.

The Gold Standard

After looking over the menu, I decided on the Gold Standard Burger, your classic cheeseburger with a twist. My burger, dry aged beef sirloin to be exact, arrived grilled to a perfect medium well. The Gold Standard spoke to the concept of Holsteins, premium burgers with premium ingredients. No processed American cheese on this burger, only aged cheddar, and hold the ketchup because this burger comes with house made tomato confit. The garlic chive aioli also offered a nice kick. Burgers come with either shoestring or steak fries but you can opt for the duck fat fries, which I suggest. I ordered a side of Smashed Potatoes, which actually weren’t smashed but rather baked fingerling potatoes covered in melted cheddar cheese and bacon, served with a side of scallion aioli. The scallion aioli was the highlight of the Smashed Potatoes for me. While I enjoyed the Gold Standard, I would also suggest the Longhorn, which my friend ordered. The burger is topped with everything you’d want at your bbq: brisket, BBQ sauce and Cole slaw. The Rising Sun is also worth trying. It really captures Japanese flavors in a burger. The burger itself is made of Kobe beef, covered in a teriyaki glaze and sprinkled with nori furikake, a traditional Japanese rice seasoning, then it’s topped with crispy yams, spicy mayo and a tempura battered slice of avocado.

Coffee and Donuts

If you have room for dessert, you have to try the Coffee and Donuts. What you’ll get is a cup of espresso chocolate “soup” with mini marshmallows and a side of bombolinis, Italian donut wholes with a lemon, vanilla or gingerbread filling. I definitely see late night cravings for bombolinis and chocolate espresso in my future.

Holsteins menu isn’t up on their website yet, but it include items besides burgers. You’ll find duck tacos, various house made sausage and dogs. And for you non-meat eaters or “grazers” they have salads and an Urth Burger, a vegan patty that comes in a tiny bun and a full size version. You can also build your own burger if one of their selections doesn’t interest you. And I can’t forget Holsteins alcohol spiked Bam-boozled Milkshake, which I’ll have to try on my next visit.



Inside The Cosmopolitan

3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas, NV 89109Holsteins Cow

Holstein's (Cosmopolitan) on Urbanspoon
Holsteins - The Cosmopolitan on Foodio54