LIVIN’ IT UP AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL, LAS VEGAS
There are so many ways to “do” Las Vegas these days—there’s on the cheap, cramping however many people into a single room, never sleeping, gambling nonstop and surviving on free drinks and junk food, unless you’re lucky enough to get comped for a meal if you’ve been playing long enough; there’s the club going experience, getting your groove on at dayclub pool parties and partying at swank nightclubs; and there’s the life of a high roller where money is no object.
Another alternative, if you like things a tad slower in pace and you feel like enjoying a more relaxed and refined experience, then a place like Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas can be considered Mecca. A prestigious five-star boutique hotel without a casino (head next door to Aria or Cosmopolitan if you like that noise) Mandarin Oriental brings modern style and unbeatable service to the Strip.
If you appreciate refinement but can’t afford the price tag, then play tourist and ride the elevator to the 23rd floor and make yourself comfortable in the posh Mandarin Bar, where the peaceful lounge offers amazing city views along with tasty bites and kick ass cocktails.
Sit down, make yourself comfortable, take in the view and start off with the Golden Leaf, a drink created specifically for the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas. With the Golden Leaf, think Mandarin Martini, prepared with Hendricks Gin, Aperol, muddled mandarin, pineapple juice, lime juice and simple syrup, you’ll really be starting things right.
Another crowd-pleaser is the Cucumber & Cilantro Margarita, a fresh spin on the original margarita using Milagro Reposado Tequila, garden fresh cucumber, cilantro, agave nectar, egg whites and fresh lime. It packs a nice punch too.
If you’re looking to add to your experience, order the Tuna Tataki made with seared tuna, charred rice cake, soy yuzu vinaigrette, shiso, and buba arare if you’re looking for a small bite, otherwise the MObar Sliders, prepared with custom ground Chuck beef patty, regional Oregon Tillamook cheddar on bakery buns, is a delicious and hearty item.
I didn’t try the Berry Bellini but it looked pretty and very lady friendly. It’s made with sparkling wine, white peach puree and freshly muddled blackberries creating a decadent yet light cocktail. If you’re looking for stronger drinks, the Un-Usual Negroni, originally thought to have first been made in Florence, Italy in 1919, is a winner. This simple cocktail with a spin produces a much more approachable flavor using Hendricks Gin, orange zest, Lillet Blanc and Aperol in equal parts. Another homerun is the Violet Aviation, mixed with Bombay Sapphire Far East gin, Luxardo Cherry liquor, lemon juice and Cream de Violet floating quietly at the base of the martini glass. This is a must have since you can’t get Bombay Sapphire Far East gin anywhere but Las Vegas and New York for now.
You might say that $18 for cocktails is steep, although beers are only $8 (these are Vegas prices after all), but consider the view and the fact that you’re getting away from the rat pack rat race for a while and just indulge.
Now, if you’re really looking to step up your Vegas experience, and “refinement” is the word of the day, then opt for a first rate dinner at MOzen Bistro, a contemporary Asian bistro. The service is stellar, the ambiance is peaceful yet posh, and the food is devine.
They have a very impressive tapas menu, where you can mix and match mouthwatering selections, along with satisfying entrée choices. The Bento by MOzen Bistro allows diners to choose six small plates such as Pad Thai Gungsot prepared with rice noodles, sweet chili sauce and shrimp; Blackened Albacore Tuna Tataki drizzled with garlic-soy reduction, chili aioli, and shitake chips; and Malai Murgh cooked with chicken morsels marinated with cream cheese, cardamom and cashew nut. It’s good bang for your buck.
We started with the Blackened Albacore Tuna Tataki, which really hit the spot. Another hearty selection is the Bulgogi, a Korean dish made with stir fried marinated beef tips with peppers and scallions. It’s simple and savory.
With a great selection of fish and Asian dishes, you’ll probably want to pair with a white wine like a Cloud Bay from New Zealand, or a fine Sauvignon Blanc such as Wither Hills also from New Zealand.
Looking to select more delectable small plates, we ordered the Casear Salad, made with Romaine lettuce, shaved Parmesan, crisp pancetta and marinated anchovies, along with the Mustard Chicken Tika (clay oven roasted mustard marinated tender chicken), and the Pani Puri (crispy hallow puffs, filled with chick peas, potatoes and a shot of minted tamarind water). Delish!
Another plate to share that’s pretty much a must-have is the XO Fried Rice, made with fragrant jasmine rice wok fried with seafood, vegetables and silver sprouts in spicy XO sauce. Wow!
For entrées, we went with the Pan Fried Sea Bass served with toasted polenta, ham and peas foam, pumpkin seeds and grated Parmesan—phenomenal, especially with our Wither Hills wine.
The Royal Tandori Platter, an assortment of prawns, chicken and lamb marinated with Indian flavors and roasted in a clay oven, served with baby naan and lentils, is a wonderful choice. It’s extremely flavorful, exotic, and also paired wonderfully with our wine.
For dessert, go with the Coffee and Donuts, vanilla beignets with molten chocolate center, cappuccino-frozen soufflé, and candied maple bacon. It’s decadent but well worth it to top off your night out.
Livin’ it up may set you back some, but it’s well worth it as far as a one-of-a-kind treat for yourself. You can always hit the buffet in the morning, but at least you’ll have one night where you got to escape, pamper yourself and live it up.
Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas is located at 3752 S. Las Vegas Blvd. at CityCenter. Mandarin Bar is open Mon thru Thurs from 5-10pm, and Fri and Sat from 5pm to 12am. MOzen Bistro is open for breakfast from 6:30-11:30am; Lunch from 12-2:30pm; and Dinner from 6-10pm. Call 888-881-9367.