A dim sum gala, next on a bun and Comme Ça’s study in Bistronomy

HOW DOES PING Pang Pong continue to be my favorite local Chinese restaurant? Let me count the ways. In addition to serving the best dim sum in Las Vegas seven days a week, the restaurant (in the Gold Coast, 367-7111) has great fare during the evening, such as Night Market fried rice and excellent crab dishes.

But Ping Pang Pong outdid itself on Feb. 1, serving a gala dinner to celebrate Chinese New Year. This is the Year of the Dragon, so the kitchen served everyone whole roasted lobster (also known as “dragon shrimp” in Chinese), as well as many dishes that symbolize luck, prosperity and long life—the Holy Trinity of the Chinese culture.

I can still taste the Eight Treasure Chicken, whole braised abalone with Chinese greens, spicy salt pork chops and other delicacies. The dinner was made a tad more user-friendly for the non-Chinese, so plan to make it next year.

Thought you’d seen the last new burger chain? Think again. Now we have Elevation Burger, due to open any day now at 5130 S. Fort Apache Road. AOL Small Business recently dubbed it the “next big chain,” and I for one am excited about it.

The chain uses 100 percent USDA certified organic grass-fed beef, which is high in omega-3s, has from one-third to one-half the calories of grain-fed beef and is said to lower LDL cholesterol levels. What’s more, the fries are cooked in pure olive oil. Given its low flash point, I’ll have to be convinced that they’ll come up crisp, but I’m sold on the beef.

Chef Brian Howard of Comme Ça (in the Cosmopolitan, 698-7000) has added a spate of new dishes to the restaurant’s already extensive offerings by way of the new Bistronomy menu. He’s one of the most creative forces on the Strip, so look for items such as house-cured charcuterie, terrific steak tartar in a jar, bacon-wrapped swordfish and rich, retro lobster Thermidor. Sometimes Howard gets carried away, though. How about offal stew? I don’t think so.

Finally, one of my favorite off-Strip steak houses, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (8721 W. Charleston Blvd.), has re-upped its “5 for $6 Until 7” menu, with additions in the cocktail, wine and appetizer departments. It’s one of the best deals around.

New cocktails include a white Cosmo made with Svedka Vodka; wine can be a delicious Mark West pinot noir from California; and the food menu has stuff like Wicked Cajun BBQ Shrimp, and a huge prime burger with bacon and cheese. You won’t be having an entrée after finishing one.

Hungry, yet?

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Valentine’s Day Collection, Ethel M Chocolates

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Valentine’s Day Collection, Ethel M Chocolates

By Grace Bascos

Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without a heart-shaped box of chocolates. Our local chocolatier offers the boxes in a variety of sizes with all hand-packed and preservative free goodies inside. The first to be devoured from any box should be the copper foil-wrapped almond butter krisp, followed by the almond cluster and then the peanut butter cup. Best part? You don’t have to bite into a chocolate to discover its contents—Ethel M provides a guide to their bonbons. $22-$60, multiple locations, EthelM.com.