When eating foods outside of the country in which they originate, the question of authenticity is always a vexing one. Take xiao long bao, for example. These soup-filled dumplings hailing from Shanghai have become an obsession throughout the world, and are among the most magical culinary creations to experience. Chef Jimmy Li at Niu Gu (3400 S. Jones Blvd., Suite 16, 702-570-6363, NiuGuRestaurant.com) has just unveiled his house-made xiao long bao, and they’re as authentic as they come, from the perfect thickness of the wrapper—which has precisely 18 crown folds—to the size of the hearty meat filling. Choose from two varieties: center- cut pork loin or blue claw crab. Eating these the proper way is part of the overall experience; one doesn’t want to spring a leak, or burn one’s mouth with the hot broth bursting in your mouth. Place the dumpling on the porcelain soup spoon. Take a small bite off the top to open the pouch, then slurp the broth. Next, using chopsticks, dip the dumpling into vinegar, which is prepared with fresh ginger root, and enjoy. You should know that Chef Li only offers these on Saturdays and Sundays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and after the first 40 orders, they’re gone.
So, what’s for brunch? Providers of unforgettable culinary walking tours of our city’s finest eats, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours (702-289-4796, LipSmackingFoodieTours.com) now offers a Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, this two-and-a-half-hour guided walking tour takes you to Herringbone, Bardot Brasserie and Lemongrass in Aria, where you will indulge in finest sweets and savories, along with uplifting cocktails and mocktails. A few highlights include Herringbone’s Crab Popper Benny, Bardot’s French toast with vanilla mascarpone, almond brittle and orgeat syrup, and Lemongrass’s dim sum selections. Cocktails such as the strawberry yuzu Bellini (Herringbone), watermelon caipiroska (Lemongrass) and the French mule mocktail (Bardot) complete the experience that at $149 per person includes your guide, signature brunch dishes, cocktails or mocktails, and gratuities.
Of course, if you prefer to stick to breakfast basics, it’s good to know that places like Rise & Shine (10690 Southern Highlands Pkwy., 702-202-4646; 9827 W. Flamingo Rd., 702-873-0155; BestBreakfastVegas.com) will always have the answer. The house specialty is the rib-eye steak-and-egg breakfast. It comes with a choice of side, and I urge you to go for the pot of bread: a dinner roll and a cinnamon roll baked together in an espresso cup, sprinkled with sweetness of sugar and served with a cream cheese syrup. Yes, we are now ready to start the day!