Sep 27, 2013

Michelin Dining Experience - Le Cirque at Bellagio Las Vegas

I'll let pictures tell the story of my dining journey at this exquisite one Michelin star restaurant at the Bellagio, Las Vegas, NV.


Before diving into the feast -


Macallan 18 -


Le cirque is a French word for circus -


Bread and butter (salted/unsalted) -


You can choose from a wide selection of bread of course, I picked the one infused with some fresh herbs.

"Champagne, Ruinart, Blanc de Blancs, Reims, MV" -


Gazpacho -


"Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Yuzu Gelée, Panna Cotta, Fennel Cream, Osetra Caviar, Seaweed and Sesame Tuile" -


"Poached Farm Egg, Osetra Caviar, Lemon Crème fraîche, Scottish Smoked Salmon, Fingerling Potato, Pepper Mignonette" -


Egg yolk close up -


"Roasted New Zealand Langoustine, Jamón ibérico, Asparagus, Parmesan, Petite Mustard Greens, Citrus Sabayon, Jus de Veau -


Paired with "Puligny-Montrachet, Jean Chartron, Burgundy, 2011" -


"Sautéed Foie Gras, White Chocolate and Raisin Brioche, Roasted Almonds, Kirsch Glazed Cherries, Crème de Cassis Gastrique" -


Paired with "Maury, Pla del Fount, Roussillon, 1939" -


This was divine, by far one of the best pairing combinations I've ever had.

"Wild Pacific Barramundi, Baby Leeks, Braised Celery, Artichoke, Rutabaga, Lardon, Vitelotte Potato, Barigoule Sauce" -


"Gevrey Chambertin, Vieille Vignes, Marc Roy, Burgundy, 2009" -


"Japanese A4 Kobe Beef Rib Eye, Pommes Confit, Caramelized Cipollini, Tempura Spinach, Maitake, Bone Marrow, Hearts of Palm, Bordelaise Sauce" -


Tender beefy paradise -


Camembert -


View of Bellagio's dancing water show from our table -


Towards the end of the night -


Ready for dessert?


"Chocolate Ball" before -


After -


Friend's dessert and petit four in the foreground -


"Mango and Passion Fruit Macaron, Tapioca Pearls, Coconut Sorbet and Croquant" -


Petit four again -


Tea -


Little gift box with two truffles -



Le Cirque
3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-8865
(866) 259-7111
http://www.lecirque.com/
http://www.bellagio.com/restaurants/le-cirque.aspx

Hours of operation:
Tuesday to Sunday 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
*Currently holds one Michelin star as the date of September, 2013

Sep 20, 2013

Pork Ribs with Salted Black Beans 豆豉排骨- So Flavorful, You Won't Even Know It's Just a Steamed Dish!

Friday night quick update.

This is one of the dishes that I've always requested begged my mom to make every time I'm in Taiwan. Only a few ingredients are needed, let the meat marinate overnight, steam for 30 minutes then BOOM! A plateful of pork ribs packed with Asian flavors.


The key lies on the quality of the ingredients especially with such a simple recipe. Make sure to source the best bone-in pork, salted black beans, and soy sauce possible.

Mommy's love - Pork ribs with salted black beans -


Ingredients?

  • Some pork ribs (preferably with bones)
  • Some salted black beans
  • Some very spicy red chilies
  • Some soy sauce
  • 4 cloves of garlic

How?

My mom made the dish and this is what she told me, beware, the steps and ingredients might sound too simple to be true. 

Discard the stems and finely chop the red chilies. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Easy on the garlic cloves otherwise it'll hinder the aroma from the salted black beans.

Simply marinade the pork inside a bowl with about 1 to 2 big spoonfuls of salted black beans, chopped chilies, chopped garlic, and just a few splashes of soy sauce. Massage the meat and let it marinate overnight in the fridge, make sure to stir the meat half way through to make sure every pieces are well seasoned.

Once ready, just pop the bowl into a steamer with a lid on. You can also cover the bowl with cling foil to prevent the water/vapor from dripping down to the bowl and dilute the flavors during the process. About 30 to 40 minutes then you'll get this chopsticks tender pork that falls right off the bones.

Here's my other recent recipe using salted black beans:
Spicy chicken stir fry with salted black beans 辣炒豆豉雞

- Sidetrack -


I peeked through the curtain the other day and saw this dove couple. I was in love with the heart shaped silhouette.

Sep 15, 2013

Red Fermented Rice Chicken Drumsticks - 紅糟雞腿

Eating healthy and delicious food is key to enjoy life. However, there's a pre-requisite before putting that spoonful of food into your mouth - exercise. No matter how carefully selected you are about food, let it be balanced diet or 100% organic meals, without exercising, your body just won't function correctly.

That's especially true for me since I just dislocated my tailbone again couple days ago, from a simple sneeze! Who would imagine a sneeze would make my old injury came back up again...a big factor definitely has to do with lack of exercise these days. There weren't enough movements for my muscles and bones. As a result, tensions and pressures continue to build up and eventually it just snapped out of the blue...

Be sure to keep a healthy life style by exercising regularly accompanied by balanced diet, and this recipe should do some good about metabolism, lowering the blood fat, and cholesterol level from the main ingredient - red fermented rice. Red fermented rice is made by fermenting sticky rice and naturally red colored rice with the solid byproducts from the alcohol making process along with some rice wine.

Red fermented rice chicken drumsticks 紅糟雞腿 -


Ingredients?

  • 10 to 12 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 lb of chicken dark meat (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons of red fermented rice
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 whole garlic (many individual cloves)
  • Some olive oil
  • Some chopped scallion

How?

Take a Ziploc bag or a sealed container, add in about one whole garlic, peeled, along with red fermented rice. Add in the chicken drumsticks and big pieces of dark meat.


Tighten the bag and give it a good shake/rub. Transfer to the fridge and let it marinade overnight. Make sure to flip the bag to the other side half way through.


Drizzle some olive oil into the pot, preferably a clay pot. Add in about 5 more peeled garlic cloves to the pot and turn to medium high heat to sear the cloves.


Wait till the aroma comes out and the sides of the garlic turns slightly brown, add in the chicken and the marinade -



Sear the chicken till slightly golden browned. Add in the soy sauce and water. Cook till the liquid has been fully absorbed by the meat, about 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure to stir once a while to prevent burning and the skin sticking to the pot.

Garnish with some freshly chopped scallion before serving -


Even though the red fermented rice is good for metabolism, lowering the cholesterol, etc, but right now I'm more in the need of something good for my muscle and bones, any suggestions?

Sep 9, 2013

Sweets Raku - A Rare Find Delicate Dessert Course in Chinatown, Las Vegas

One of my all time favorite restaurants Raku in Las Vegas just recently launched a new place. However, this time we're not looking for savory items such as Aburiya Raku's fresh off the sea sashimi, grilled Kobe beef tendon, and signature homemade tofu. Instead, it's an elegant place decorated with white marble counter tops and filled with sugary aromas.


It might be hard to find this newly opened store especially there's no signage hanging on the rooftop. You'll just have to look for a big silver spoon located in the same plaza as Raku, between Spring Mountain Rd and South Decatur Blvd.


I've been longing to try Sweets Raku ever since receiving their email about the grand opening not long ago. The reason mostly due to my trust about the quality food and dining experiences received every time while eating at Raku. The occasional special dessert such as brown sugar bean curd tasted so good that I can still remember the exact look and flavors even years till now. I did write about Raku back in 2009 but bear with me, my writing and photography skills were pretty awful back then (even till now). However, just note that I rarely give out a 9-point rating but Raku is one of the few that absolutely deserves such high regards. That gives you an idea why I'm so excited about Sweets Raku.

A wall of water and wine bottles draws the line between the Chinatown scene and the artfully crafted dining environment -


Wall decor -


The dining area can be divided into two parts: the counter seating -


The L-shaped counter area can sit about 13 people -


And the table area -



Dining set -


I was wondering why do they put a hand towel for customers since it's a rare practice for dessert place. The first thought crossed my mind was that the place is owned by Japanese, perhaps it's more polite and tidy to provide customers hand towels as being courteous and considerate. Soon after we placed our orders, I learned the true reason behind the whole towel mystery. You'll see.


Drinks menu (coffee, tea, and soft drinks) -


Wine menu and some wine pairing suggestions for dessert course -


Beers are also available upon request -


As my boy friend Mr. K said: "I'm trying to preserve my last manliness while finding myself eating cute and girly desserts with you."

Prix fixe menu -


$19 for amuse, choice of dessert, and petit four. A la carte is also available for $12.

Mr. K and his clumsy fingers broke the menu ring, oops! -


Once placing the orders, our waitress brought over this fun raspberry sauce holder over and poured a little pile on the plate -


And she said calmly: Please eat the menu with the sauce.

What!??

That's a surprise. No wonder there's a hand towel for each customer, and that's why the menu ring got broken off easily because it was made out of sugar, not because of Mr. K's clumsiness!


So we became sheep and cows.

The waitress must be enjoying this part every time when requesting customers to eat the menu.

The taste of the paper is rather bland, but it did slowly melt into your mouth and oozes together with the raspberry sauce. I prefer eating the menu with a little piece of broken menu ring, it adds more texture and stronger sugary taste (that just sounds so wrong).


My green tea: Tokio -


"Green tea delicately flavored with sweet berries. Fresh and sweet taste."

Note that there's no refill for hot tea. However, the waitress will provide you with some icy cold water in Riedel-like O glasses if needed.

Amuse -


Mango sorbet with mint jelly. Very refreshing. The mint tones down the sourness from the sorbet, truly opens up my appetite (but I've always got room for dessert).

While waiting for my cake -


Playing with sugar -


If you're not coming in a big group of people, I highly suggest taking the bar seats. You get to see so many "behind the scene" actions here. Checking out how the dessert was made and decorated.

This one looks so good -


I think it's called "Apollo" with main components of chocolate and raspberry mousse. I shall order that next time!


Mine is coming up! -


"Marriage" -


"Strawberry and banana."

Underneath the fluffy sponge cake is banana cream. Even the ice cream-liked pink sphere is raspberry flavored sponge cake. All the components are light and "feathery"-like, a truly Japanese dessert style. I would recommend "Marriage" to people who prefer less sweet and lighter style treats.

Another sugar art up close, the sugar leaf on my cake -


"Veil" -


"Stuffed custard pie."

Extremely flaky pie crust with buttery aroma. The purple mousse on the bottom is made of raspberry and blue berry. Also on the very bottom is assorted fruit compote. The bird nest shaped sugar resembles the veil, just press it down and devour with the creamy filling together.


Personally, I like the "Veil" better than the "Marriage," but it's just my own preference of liking desserts with a crunchier, meatier bite.

Our waitress was hoping us to order the "Ringo" - the apple pie, but we ended up ordering the two from above. So she brought over this sugar apple that comes with the Ringo. It's too cute and she really wants me to take a picture of the apple!-


The apple is hollow. Supposedly there's a hole on the bottom and the chef will fill up the apple with flavored cream. Not sure you eat it by cracking up the apple or melting it from above.

Petit four -


Instead of serving four individual sweet bites, here the chef combines all four and integrated them into another plate of dessert as our last menu item - raisins, raspberry marshmallows, mango marshmallows, and comforting mini molten cake. The mango perfectly opens up my palate in the beginning and sums up the dessert course here towards the end.

It's definitely worth $19 for such a carefully crafted dessert course. The atmosphere was relaxing, the servers were wonderful, and the desserts were aromatic. You can truly feel the delicate works put into a dish. In addition, like most Japanese style sweet treats, you won't get that sticky sickness or sugar high feelings even after finishing couple plates of cakes and mousses.

I'll be back for more.

Cindy's Rating: 7


Sweets Raku
5040 West Spring Mountain Road, Suite 3
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 290-7181

Hours: Monday through Saturday 3 p.m. - 11 p.m.

*Currently Sweets Raku does not take reservations
*Located in the same plaza as Raku Japanese Charcoal Grill
*Official website for Raku Japanese Charcoal Grill