Hakkasan, a tony, upscale Chinese restaurant, is under construction at the MGM Grand, and if it debuts in December as planned, it is certain to be the splashiest restaurant opening on the Strip in 2012. Hakkasan, which first opened in London in 2001, is the first Chinese restaurant in Europe to garner a Michelin star and, today, the company already has outposts in New York and Miami with two more to come in L.A. and San Francisco. There will be a nightclub here in addition to the restaurant, with distinctive, luxurious chinoiserie decor—all 75,000 square feet of it.
I’ve eaten at Hakkasan London, and the food is terrific. I can’t wait to taste the crispy duck salad, braised lamb shank, truffle-braised noodle or Jasmine tea-smoked pork ribs. Call it Tao for grown-up palates.
Hard-core foodies will be encouraged to learn that the seminal Henderson gourmet store Valley Cheese & Wine (341-8191, ValleyCheeseAndWine.com) is moving down the road from a hard-to-find strip mall to a more accessible one (Amador Plaza, 1570 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway), near Branded Meats. Owner Bob Howald says the location, expected to open in early August, will have an additional 500 square feet, and that his inventory of imported porchetta, mortadella and boutique cheeses will not take away from what is sold at the butcher shop, which makes its own sausages and sells various cuts of fresh meat.
I’m looking forward to the acclaimed Earl of Sandwich opening later this summer in the Palms, which advertises that it is named for John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, who allegedly invented the lunchtime staple. However, I grew up in Boston, where ’60s DJ Dick Summer insisted that it was the Earl of Shrewsbury who first put meat between slices of bread, and so put forth that sandwiches should be called shrewsburys. Just sayin’.
Meanwhile, my latest ethnic find is Boca Do Brasil (4825 S. Fort Apache Road, 655-9999), a mini-mall haven for local Brazilians and the place to find home-style cooking that isn’t churrasco (Brazilian barbecue). The food is cheap, plentiful and tasty. Three-dollar snacks include coxinha, a sort of fried chicken croquette; kibe, a meat patty; and pastel, what is called an empanada in the Spanish-speaking world. Main dishes come with salad, rice and beans. Among a stellar selection are stroganoff and a variety of pizzas.
Make sure to wash everything down with a Guarana soda, made from the exotic tropical fruit, about as far from Dr Pepper as the law allows in the Northern Hemisphere.