Sorry for jumping back and forth, but sometimes deliciousness throws me off track. Linear blogging is so “aughts” anyway.
At any rate, “The Overpriced & The Bad” focuses on two of my not so great experiences in Vegas; one a semi-miss and one a complete and utter mother of all misses. Not every meal can be hit, and here’s proof.
“The Overpriced” was dim sum at Zine Noodles Dim Sum in The Palazzo. Expensive food in Las Vegas isn’t a surprise, and I don’t mind paying more if the extra dollars can be justified. For example, $125 at Alex, well worth it. At Zine, although some of the food was pretty good, I left feeling gyped.
The Hot Chili Wonton ($8.95), swimming in a lovely pool of chili oil, looked promising when it came to the table, but was definitely underwhelming. The wontons were lukewarm. Food that isn’t hot or cold makes me suspicious. How long has it been sitting out? Who knows? All I know is that I don’t want to eat it. I don’t normally return dishes, but in this case, I told the waitress the wontons were too cold to eat. She took the dish back to the kitchen and returned shortly with hot wontons, but also a very hot plate. I assumed the entire plate was nuked, which resulted in dried out wonton skins. It was a complete FAIL.
The Hot and Sour Soup ($8) also failed, failed on multiple levels. First, the price alone for a small cup of corn starch thickened soup was completely outrageous. Second, the soup was simply mediocre. The soup’s namesake hotness and sourness was completely tame, and was only revived with a generous dollop of chili sauce.
Fortunately, not everything was terrible. The Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow; $6.95) were much better. The semi-translucent dumplings were beautifully folded and plump, full of shrimp.
The Steam Pork Riblets in Black Bean Sauce ($4.95) were also good. The tender little porcine nuggets were moist and studded with tender black beans, pungent to the bite.
And the Deep Fried Spring Onion Pancake ($6.25), with layer upon layer of scallion-filled crunch, was the best of the morning’s offerings, and also the best I’ve had in the States.
The food at Zine isn’t horrible. The quality of the dishes that were good exceeded what I had expected. However, at the price, I expected more imaginative choices than hot and sour soup and har gow. For standard 1980’s time warp Chinese, I rather eat in Chinatown and pay a fraction of the cost.
Now “The Bad.”
“The Bad” was The Buffet at the Bellagio. OK, I know I should have seen this coming, but I figured I had to do a buffet once, and I actually read a few good reviews about Bellagio’s buffet. Well, let me tell you now, whatever you ever read, whatever you ever hear, never ever think what you will eat at The Buffet will be tasty, fresh, or properly cooked.
I really wanted to like The Buffet. How could I not when I waited TWO HOURS ON LINE? Yes, you read that correctly. I waited on line for two hours for bad food. Of course the whole time I was thinking, it must be good if everyone is waiting on line for this, but in hindsight, I’m sure everyone was thinking that.
I went during “Gourmet dinner” ($39.95, Fridays and Saturdays), and I’m still confused what and where the gourmet part was. Perhaps it was the still partially frozen crab legs or the Chinese barbecued pork made with ham. It certainly didn’t refer to the sushi made with rice so tightly packed it tasted like rice cakes. In any case, the whole time I was eating, I kept thinking if I was served any of this in a restaurant back home, I would, without a doubt, return it. Yet here, not only was I shoving it all ravenously into my piehole, but I was actually going back for seconds and thirds as if there was no tomorrow. Buffets make you do weird and crazy things.
Really crazy and weird things. While eating, my stomach started to hurt, but I kept eating anyway. I even went and got dessert twice. In my defense, the caramelized bananas seemed decent at the time. Shortly after leaving the restaurant, my stomach told me otherwise. I don’t think anything at The Buffet had been decent. No matter what anyone ever tells you, or how convincing the long line outside the restaurant seems, stay far away, stay very far away. Your stomach will thank me.
So far, for casual dining, it seems your best bet in Vegas is In-N-Out off the strip. On the strip, Lady Luck seems to be high maintenance.