Saturday, September 27, 2008

Report on Vegas from Vegas - including the Lotus of Siam report!

Ah Vegas. The lights, the sounds, the smoke-filled rooms, the hustle and bustle that greets you from the early hours to the.... early hours the next day... the conventioneers, the body builders, the hustlers, the scorching heat, the big payouts, the chips flying.... what is there not to love? There's no place like it!

I have been to Las Vegas about 10 times in my life, and I don't feel a stranger to the place. The first time I was here - this brings back memories - was when I was a kid not old enough to gamble. I remember being here with my family, my grandmother in particular, who was impressed and awed by the glitz and glitter, the big hotel we were staying at on the strip (the Flamingo, if I recall).... it was a great time, even though I was a kid not old enough to gamble. Later on, when it could, it just got better. There's no other place in the world to play these awesome games.

Anyway, back to the current time. I'm here with my hubby and two of his guy friends - initially, there were other women coming but they couldn't make it. We've been having an awesome time - I'm blending in enough to get into the guy talk which is totally hilarious. And the gambling - freaking awesome! I'm up 200 bucks and lovin' it!

Now to the food -

I don't think Vegas has really great food. I wouldn't really come here for the food - I would go to Europe or Asia for that, or even cities like San Francisco, New York, Vancouver. But all this talk about Lotus of Siam that I have heard in recent years have really gotten my juices flowing.

We went last evening and it met all of my expectations! No, scratch that, it EXCEEDED my expectations! Great little almost divey place in a strip mall, with the lights basically OFF on their sign on Sahara Blvd, practically telling the world "Don't come here, we don't really need your business, unless you REALLY REALLY are committed to it."

The food menu was so huge and overwhelming with authentic Northern Thai cuisine that I let my 3 male dining companions deal with it while I attacked the wine list. And what a wine list! Here's how this neat and tidy binder looked like: the first page has on its heading German Riesling by the Glass, then lists about 7 German Rieslings followed by Try a flight of German Rieslings which gives you an option of trying three German wines by the glass! Wow! Amazing.

The next few pages list other wines by the glass, giving the reader almost an impression that this was it for German wines. But behold! A bottle list which starts off with a listing of German Wines. The first page has the subheading Dry and Off-Dry Rieslings with about 14 wines to choose from, followed by another heading Qualitatswein Rieslings, which then breaks out Rieslings from the Rheingau, Mosel, Nahe and a few other regions. Next is 2 pages of Kabinett Rieslings, followed by 3 pages of Spatlese, and then 3 pages of Auslese! After the pages of Auslese, the book goes into Other Wines and starts to list Californian wines, French wines and some others.

I have never seen this before outside of Germany. I don't even think I have really seen this within Germany, but I might have! Freaking amazing. And this is an Asian restaurant! Most Asian restaurants I have experienced have either no wine list, or a wine list that shows complete lack of comprehension about wine. I practically had my ass thrown out of the last Asian restaurant I approached with the idea of German wine because they were way too happy with their bottom of the barrel Southern Wine and Spirits Merlots and other grocery store level wines.

And don't get me started about wine lists in restaurant where they believe they know tons of wines (read: European or Californian restaurnats) where German wines are relegated to a squishy little portion of the wine list after 5 pages of Californian wine, 3 pages of French wine, 3 pages of New World wines from various places such as Aussieland and Chile and Argentina........ then you see 3 crappy German wines on there that are probably advertising bottles that have sat there for 5 years not moving because no one cares about them..... ARGG.

Ranting aside, we ended up ordering 2 very delicious appetizers and then 4 even more outstanding mains, which we all shared. I got to say hi to Lotus of Siam sommelier Bank who took very good care of us and recommended 2 of the mains we enjoyed, including a sea bass on noodles dish, which was my favorite, and a crispy duck skins dish, which was okay but still great..... or other dishes included a pork dish in a coconut curry sauce called Kow Soi, and a northern Thai spicy sausage.... we also had some pork larb and some crispy rice...... the food was excellent and I would go there just for that in a heartbeat!

The wines - I ordered two bottles for the table, the 2007 Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste Riesling Kabinett, which was one of the wines in the Benley wine dinner I just helped to host the previous evening, the 2005 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Spatlese. Unfortunately, they were out of the Oberhauser Brucke Spatlese, so Bank recommended the 2004 Donnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spatlese, which totally fit the bill (even though my favorite vineyard that Donnhoff makes wine from is Oberhauser Brucke, based on the very little that I know and have experienced).

Both wines were awesome, of course, but what made me really light up was having Johan's friend say "Hmmm maybe I should give German Rieslings another look!" This is coming from a wine enthusiast who has been coming to tastings at The Wine Country and avoiding all German wines and basically not wanting anything to do with so-called sweet wines. Well, honestly, who wants sweet stickies???? I don't! But these Rieslings are a totally different animal, and I got the chance to do my sales pitch mid-meal. That Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste is a completely off-dry number, with awesome, peachy-clean fruit and the driest finish. Fantastically refreshing as an aperatif wine that we could sip on before the food hit the table, and pairing so well with the mildly seasoned appetizers.

The Spatlese, though with some bottle age on it, still reflected a significant amount of residual sugar, which made said friend seem to question whether he would really like it. Friend #2 already was raving about it, how it was totally different from the Gunderloch, and that he liked it more - I put words into his mouth to describe that it was weightier and had more depth and concentration (as well as more sweetness).

Later, with the main dishes, of course the wine sang. Everyone was a happy camper, stuffing our faces and washing the food down with some pretty fabulous and fairly priced German Rieslings.

The pricing on this list was completely fair and it made me feel that there is no reason ever to bring one's own wine to this restaurant. The list is comprehensive, has some excellent producers, and even some older vintages to enjoy. I didn't really order anything too aged, but maybe next time.

What an awesome experience! I'm so happy I finally got to go to Lotus of Siam. This place really sets the standard for what a restaurant can do.

I'll aim to turn a few places into a Lotus of Siam-type place in the near future!!!!!


Samantha Dugan said...

Don't you love it when a place lives up to the hype?! Sounds wonderful and I will put it on my "must try" list next time I go to Vegas.

Here is to hoping you are able to get some of the restaurants around here to put something interesting on their wine lists....pretty sad state as it is right now.

Samantha Dugan said... posted while in Vegas?! I didnt even know they had computers in the hotels are one dedicated blogger!