MoZen’s bento boxes should pick up dinner biz

MoZen Bistro at the Mandarin Oriental is the most underappreciated restaurant in the city. It’s on the third floor of the hotel, reached by the city’s only elevator equipped with a velvet bench. Valet parking is the only option, but you’ll never wait more than three minutes for your car.

This is a three-meal restaurant. They serve a superb breakfast and offer fresh squeezed juice, filter coffee, complimentary newspapers and wonderful pastries. I usually order rice porridge, a.k.a. congee. Have it with chicken, scallops or shrimp. Toasted peanuts, marinated spring onion, fresh ginger and chili sauce come on the side, to mix in. (I love the pancakes here as well, for the record.)

At lunch, the dining room could be described as busy, but not brisk.

The Royal Tandoori Platter is the best Indian dish in Vegas, and there are dim sum like ha gow shrimp dumplings and barbecued pork buns, like you’d get in Hong Kong. Naturally, there are burgers, sandwiches and pasta. This place has something for everyone.

But during the evening, the room is often nearly empty, and the talent of Executive Chef Shawn Armstrong and his team of chefs from South India, Japan and China are like trees falling in the forest when there is no one to hear them.

So the restaurant recently came up with a brilliant idea, one that I am hoping will catch on, and bring people in to eat this excellent cuisine. I am referring to their new Bento Box option, at first glance a steep $48, but really a good deal when you consider it’s six different dishes.

For more on Max Jacobson’s take on MoZen’s bento, visit