Diner’s Notebook: A towering breakthrough, Naked City sandwiches and lunching in Greenland

The rides aren’t the biggest thrill atop the Stratosphere these days. It’s actually the food.

Not long after the property was acquired by the Wall Street investment firm Goldman Sachs, the Top of the World restaurant employed two extreme talents: chefs Claude Gaty and Rick Giffen.

The views from the spectacular revolving restaurant still affords the best view of the Las Vegas Valley. It takes a full 80 minutes to make a complete revolution, and the effect is dizzying. Hold that martini.

But now you should come with an appetite, too. The food is a revelation: crab cakes with green papaya salad, a deconstructed shrimp cocktail, foie gras tater tots (no kidding) with a piquant homemade ketchup, and amazing Wagyu beef with a horseradish crust.

The fact is, with a view like this, these boys could probably get away with grilled cheese if they wanted. The accomplished, high-end cuisine is a surprise—and a real bonus. Reservations are a must: 380-7711.

Meanwhile, this area of the Strip (a.k.a. “Naked City”) has other draws. I’m always game for a cocktail at the Old Vegas legend Dino’s, and in the same parking lot, two guys from Buffalo have opened Naked City Sandwich Shop, at 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Everything here—the Angus chili, the salt and caraway rolls called Kimmelweck, the excellent corned beef—is made from scratch. One of the best sandwiches is the Naked Veggie, with sweet red bell pepper, zesty Poblano pepper and a mushroom, onion, squash stuffing. The place opens at 10 a.m. weekdays and noon weekends. Downtown finally has a great sandwich shop. Bravo!

Finally, Greenland Market, the city’s premier Korean market (6850 Spring Mountain Road), has a food court with some great Korean dishes, such as kalbi (sesame oil marinated grilled short ribs), cold noodle soup, meat dumplings and the tasty side dishes known as panchán.

After I had the recent privilege of interviewing the celebrity chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in the Napa Valley and our own Bouchon at the Venetian, we went to Greenland Market together to experience it. Chef Keller ate everything with a curious, analytical eye. He especially enjoyed the spicy cold buckwheat noodles in a ruddy broth, and the kalbi. Don’t look for kalbi at the French Laundry anytime soon. The interview will air later this month on KNPR’s State of Nevada.

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