Steve Benjamin

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Despite having what appears to be an American name, this friendly Parisian is as French as a Camembert wrapped in a tricolor. When Benjamin first came to the MGM Grand six years ago, his accent was as thick as the crème Anglaise served on desserts in his restaurant. Today, he’s lost much of the accent and speaks fluent English. He’s made Las Vegas his permanent home.

What makes him great? Simply that from day to day, year to year, the kitchen at L’Atelier is the most consistently excellent on the Strip. It’s virtually impossible to get a bad dish here, and that includes faithful and difficult reproductions of the dishes that made his boss so famous, such as his celebrated mashed potatoes, stuffed quail and papillotte of langoustine.

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Gyoza, Monta

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Gyoza, Monta

This bustling noodle shop’s gyoza, or hand-made dumplings, take a little extra time, so when you order, the waitress will immediately shout over your shoulder to the kitchen that you’d like some. The gyoza are made in-house daily with pork and vegetables, then pan-fried for a nice crust on the outside. Make your own dipping sauce from the accoutrements in front of you: soy sauce, a little vinegar and a little chili oil or shichimi seven spice. $5, 5030 Spring Mountain Road, Suite 6, 367-4600.

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