Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Kekou Gelato House

My coworker and I were looking for a good dessert place and I came across Kekou Gelato House which serves Durian gelato!!!
I think Durian's actually pretty good if you can get past the stinky smell.
I couldn't wait to see what it would taste like in gelato form!
Unfortunately it was a little cold today and after our brisk walk to Baldwin Village, I was in the mood for Vietnamese coffee instead of Gelato. I did sample the durian gelato and it was slightly less pungent, but still distinctive. However, I usually enjoy durian with the texture and flavour of the fruit and because it was missing the same texture of durian (since it was a iced treat), it just didn't translate into the same experience for me. Definitely very cool though!
Soursop and Spicy Mango
My coworker ended up getting the soursop and spicy mango gelatos and they were really good! There were some chili flakes in the mango and the soursop was a nice complement to the spiciness.
Overall: Really great exotic Asian flavours of gelato at Kekou Gelato House and they're always changing up their menu. The Viet Coffee is also a must try!
Website:  http://kekou.ca/

Monday, 22 September 2014

Bacchanal Buffet @ Caesar's Palace - Las Vegas

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Mirage and Venetian Hotels
Inside Caesar's Palace
One of the best things to do in Vegas is eat at the buffets. I've heard so many good things about the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar's Palace, so I was really excited to try it out on a Monday when there wasn't a whole lot of people or line ups.
It's still pretty pricey at $35.99 for lunch, but hopefully it'll be well worth it.
Round 1: Seafood
They seemed to have everything! Paella, crab legs, clam chowder, mussels, crayfish, oysters, fish of the day
Most of the food was flavourful, but maybe not the freshest since it was sitting out waiting for people to come and take it. I thought the oyster bar was really nice!

Round 2: Meats
Roast beef, ribs, sliders with wagyu beef, Tacos with pork carnitas or chicken or beef, chicken and waffles and Alaskan King Crab legs
Hmm...my photography skills are a little lacking in this photo - maybe it was my impatience to eat? LOL.
In any case, the Wagyu Beef sliders were really good as were the tacos with fresh guacamole, sour cream and cheese. The Alaskan King Crab legs were also really good especially with butter - very meaty. The chicken and waffles and ribs were a little dry.

Round 3:  Miscellaneous
Rack of lamb, bao, fusilli pasta with spinach in a cream sauce,  unagi sushi and salmon sushi and nachos
The lamb was okay - a little dry again from sitting and waiting under the heat lamp. The unagi sushi was okay since it was already cooked, but I probably should have left the salmon sushi there. I liked the carnitas nachos and the guacamole.

Round 4: Dessert!
Pistachio gelato on the left, assortment of cakes, tarts, mousse, whoopee pie, crème brulee, macarons, strawberry dipped in chocolate and vanilla cupcake
If you know me, then you know I have a huge sweet tooth. I had to save space especially since Caesar's Buffet is known for their desserts!
The pistachio gelato was probably better in concept than in execution - I got a hint of pistachio, but mostly cream.
I liked the fruit tarts the most! The chocolate mousse underneath the fruits was rich, creamy and so decadent. We all liked the pandan mouse cake square at the top - pandan is pretty light in itself, but they made it really well. The crème brulee fell a little flat, and they didn't torch it in front of us. The pistachio and vanilla macarons weren't that good either - they had crumbly feet and were really dense. I wasn't super impressed by the desserts, but there was a lot of choices.
Overall: Lots of variety at Caesar's Bacchanal Buffet and I like that the portion sizes were tiny and quickly replenished so that you could try more. Unfortunately, we went for a late lunch on a Monday which meant that while we could eat rather slowly without being rushed, the food was also sitting around longer since there was less people to constantly turnover the food.  We found the food was okay and there was definitely something for everyone, but it was pricey. I decided that buffets just aren't for me (unless they're AYCE sushi), but at least I tried a famous Vegas Buffet.

Bacchanal Buffet on Urbanspoon

Denny's - Las Vegas

After a long exhausting day at the Grand Canyon,

We came back to the bright lights of Vegas and decided to grab a late night dinner on the Strip:

We didn't know what else was still open, so we went to Denny's for some late night breakfast.
Everything's a little fuzzy at night in Vegas (LOL)

Zesty Nachos and Spaghetti and Meatballs
We were just thinking of splitting an appetizer and a main, but we forgot American portion sizes again.
For late night eats, it was edible...the chips were a little strange and the nachos were a little on the spicy side. The pasta was pretty straight forward. At least the service was okay - we were in and out in no time at all.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge - Las Vegas

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Hoover Dam and the majestic Grand Canyon (view from the south rim)
Panorama from Mather Point
We had a long day ahead of us to get to the Grand Canyon (5 hours of driving), so we went to grab a big breakfast at the Peppermill Grill before hitting the road.
The inside was a very bright neon colour even for 9am and it definitely had that Vegas old school lounge feel which was interesting for a diner.

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Top: Two freshly baked blueberry muffins, Joe's San Francisco Special and Mediterranean Omelet
We also got two cups of their endless coffee (I love diner coffee - it's just so fresh and they always give you so much).
The Mediterranean Omelet had seafood stuffed with Jack and Cheddar cheeses, crab and shrimp and smothered in Hollandaise sauce, while the Joe's San Fran special was scrambled eggs with spinach, sausage, ground beef, onion and served with hash browns and cheese sauce.
The muffins were amazing! So tasty and buttery even without adding butter and they were so warm with the perfect crunchy muffin top. Yum!
It wasn't the best diner food I've ever had, but the portions were certainly gigantic and it tasted okay. After eating Joe's special, I learned why Americans love ketchup so much - it adds a nice sweetness to the scrambled eggs that just makes it taste so much better.
Overall: Great value for money here! Most breakfast options were under $15 and they were pretty decent and super filling. The ambiance was...a little interesting, but the service was really quick. Definitely try the muffins here - they're fantastic!
 Peppermill Restaurant & Fireside Lounge on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Alizé - Las Vegas

Vegas Strip at night from the Rio Hotel

Before we left for Vegas, I checked out Groupon and Travelzoo to see if we could get some good deals. I found a Travelzoo deal for Alize at the top of the Palms (5 course meal for 2 for $135) and a deal for the Penn and Teller Show at the Rio for $49.50.  So, we made the reservations and booked the show for Saturday night.

Alizé is a Michelin Starred French restaurant with a fantastic view from the 56th floor of the Palms Hotel.
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Our Menu (we paid 1/2 the price with the deal)

Before the tasting menu:
Bread rolls

Amuse Bouche

1st Course
Maine Lobster Ratatouille
Such vibrant colours! The lobster was really nice and meaty and the sauce was really lovely.

Hamachi Tartare
Delicious! Beautifully presented and very tasty.

2nd Course
The options for the second course were between fois gras or blue cheese (neither of which we were fans of).
Point Reyes Blue Cheese - Strawberry Croustillant
This dish was pretty interesting; I didn't really expect a phyllo pastry baked with cheese inside on top of a light salad. I think it turned out okay.

Sautéed Fois Gras
I'm usually not a fan of fois gras, but I really liked this! I find cooking fois gras took away some of the heavy richness and it made the texture more palatable for me. I also liked the combination of the sweet fruits and the fois gras.

3rd Course
Roasted Mushroom Toban-Yaki
 I thought the presentation in the bowl was really nice, but I thought the mushroom flavour was rather overpowering in the Toban-Yaki.

Irish Salmon
I thought they cooked this really well! I liked the crispy crust on the top and the artfully arranged potatoes on the bottom.

An in-between "shot" after the mushroom Toban-Yaki

4th Course
Duck Breast
Perfectly cooked duck without the gamey taste.

Beef Rib Eye
The portion size seemed a little small, but it was tasty. I was a little confused by the side since it didn't seem like it went well with the beef.

5th Course (Yay! Dessert!)
Chocolate Soufflé and Grand Marnier Soufflé
Perfectly done soufflés! C'est parfait! Light and fluffy with molten chocolate oozing out of the chocolate soufflé and a creamy orange Grand Marnier sauce in the other. Of the two, I would highly recommend the chocolate soufflé for the pure decadence of chocolate on chocolate.

Some petit fours (chocolates) to finish:
Delicious hand-made chocolates with all sorts of different flavours and mixed with different nuts and ingredients. Yum! A perfect note to end our 5 course tasting menu with!

Overall: Fantastic meal at Alizé! The ambiance was nice and cozy, the view amazing, service was good and the food was really yummy.  And on top of that, we saved some money by buying in advance and getting a deal on a Michelin star restaurant! I left pretty happy. :D
Alizé on Urbanspoon

World of Coca-Cola - Las Vegas

Panorama of the inside of the Venetian Hotel

View of New York New York Hotel

I didn't think The Coca Cola Store would be such a big attraction in Vegas until I got to the second floor and started noticing lots of people sitting at the tables with trays of multi-coloured soda beverages in front of them.
For $7, we got to sample 16 Coke brand flavours from around the world:
That's a pretty good deal considering most of the cups were pretty full. If you love carbonated soft drinks, this would be paradise for you!

Most were okay - I could see why the flavours probably weren't suited for North American tastes. However, I thought they should definitely bring over the Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand. Others that stood out were Sprite Ice from Korea which tasted less like Sprite and more like carbonated water with a tiny hint of sprite and the Stoney Tangawizi from Tanzania which reminded me of Dukoral (that bicarbonated slimy feeling).

I liked the Bibo Kiwi Mango from South Africa, but I hated the Beverly from Italy - it was so gross that I had to drink most of the Fanta Melon Frosty and Bibo Kiwi Mango to try to cover the bitter aftertaste (and it still didn't help that much). Ugh.

Overall: I thought this was a great experience! I loved trying all these samplers from around the world (even if some of them were hits and some of them were HUGE misses). It's always fascinating discovering all these similarities and differences in tastes around the world. 
World of Coca-Cola on Urbanspoon

The Cheesecake Factory - Las Vegas

I was so exhausted from the drama yesterday that I just passed out at the hotel after watching the Kà Cirque du Soleil show. The next day I was ready to eat my way through Vegas! Starting from The Cheesecake Factory of course. This location was actually the first Cheesecake Factory I've ever been to and it made such an impact on me that I've obsessed about it ever since (and I always make an effort to see if I can include it on any trips I make to the US).

It looks so pretty - it's even better than I remember. 

Beer Mugs of Water and bread basket
Southern Fried Chicken Sliders and Crispy Crab Bites
I seriously love American portions; we paid an appetizer's price for a meal really. The Southern Fried Chicken Sliders were pretty good! I loved the customizable toppings on the side and the chicken was pretty crispy and full of juicy white meat. The crab bites were really good too! Delicious little morsels of crab meat with a nice tartar sauce on the side and a lemon wedge. Yum! 

But the real highlight was this:
Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake and Mango Key Lime Cheesecake  
The caramel pecan turtle cheesecake was made with Pecan Brownie and Caramel-Fudge Swirl Cheesecake and topped with Caramel Turtle Pecans and Chocolate. The mango key lime cheesecake was a mango key lime cheesecake topped with Mango Mousse on a Vanilla Coconut Macaroon Crust.
The caramel pecan turtle cheesecake was really rich and decadent - definitely on the heavier side, but a great balance of the sweet caramel, nutty pecans and luscious cheesecake. The mango key lime was something I was really looking forward to since I've been obsessing about key lime and I love mango, so I thought this would be an interesting combination to try.  I loved the cheesecake portion of it, but it was the Vanilla coconut macaroon crust that made it fall short of expectations for me. Still delicious cheesecake, but not very good crust. 

Overall: I love the Cheesecake Factory! They have big portions, good food, amazing cheesecakes, fast service and best of all - reasonable prices!

The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon