I’ve just returned from a diverse trip abroad, where I experienced a number of meals with direct connections to what is available here. It was a remarkable and rewarding journey.
Things kicked off in London at the original Hakkasan on London’s Hanway Place, and if what I ate there is any indication of what is to come at Hakkasan at the MGM Grand, the prospects are amazing. It is London’s first Chinese restaurant to win a Michelin star and deservedly so. Among dishes I ate were stir-fried lamb with Chinese vegetables, the famous duck salad with pine nuts and shallots, and the best shrimp toast I’ve ever tasted.
From there, I visited the Republic of Georgia, a small country in the Caucasus Mountains, east of Turkey on the Black Sea. The country produces extraordinary wines, such as the white Rkatsaeli and the red Saperavi, many still made by an 8,000-year-old method using the clay vessels called kvevri. The only place I know of to taste these wines locally is Forte European Tapas Bar & Bistro (220-3876). There, chef Nina Manchev also serves terrific dishes from that country to go along with these wines, and foods from her native Bulgaria.
I may have saved the best for last. I also visited Athens, where I dined at Milos in the Athens Hilton, which has a sister establishment in the Cosmopolitan. And I had several things impossible to taste in the U.S., including wild oysters, Aegean sea urchin and grouper giouvetsi, fish stew served in a copper pot. Our Milos has specialties flown in from the Aegean as well, and the three-course lunch there remains the best deal on the Strip at $22.13.
Locally, things are also lively. Zenshin is the newest addition to the South Point (796-7111), where well-known local chef Terence Fong (LVH, Osaka), is serving a pan-Asian menu of dishes such as sushi, sashimi, garlic chicken, oxtail soup and miso-marinated black cod.
Speaking of the MGM Grand, it’s home to the terrific L’atelier de Joël Robuchon, where the Chef of the Century (in France anyway, and the last century, that is) has created a spring menu that includes stuff like “Le Saumon,” Alaskan salmon carpaccio with fennel mango essence, and “Le Canard,” seared duck glazed with spice on a bed of sweet-and-sour daikon and spring leek. Sacre bleu!
Finally, chef David Myers, in collaboration with his executive chef here, Brian Howard, is doing a new lunch and dinner menu at Myers’ Las Vegas outpost, Comme Ça in the Cosmopolitan (698-7910). Offerings include an indulgent red velvet bacon waffle and eggs en cocotte for lunch, and a few dinner items such as the classic steak Diane and orange duck.
Follow Max Jacobson’s latest epicurean observations, reviews and tips at VegasSeven.com/Blogs.