Wednesday

I LoVe Sushi!

I LoVe Sushi!, on Eastern AVenue
11041 S Eastern AVenue
Henderson, NeVada


Pull up to the restaurant on a Friday night and there's a line out the door. Good sign No. 1.

Step inside and there's a 30-minute wait, but we get in after about 10 minutes.

I LoVe Sushi!

Walk by the sushi bar -- it's a self-contained rectangular box in the center of the restaurant. On the top of the counter are eight mugs filled with beer. Balancing on each rim is a shot glass with sake. Standing on the customer's side of the bar are 8 outstretched hands. Sushi chef/alcohol maestro extraordinaire touches one of the shot glasses and all fall perfectly into the mugs like dominoes.

I LoVe Sushi! ... err... Sake Bombs! Just can't get it out of my head.

So we're led through a crowded restaurant into a dark seating area with a giant wooden table and chairs (not booths). This area is now dubbed "Humble Pie" (as in "30 DAYS IN THE HOOOOOOOOOOLE").

Lean back and ... WHAM ... give the guy on the other side of the wall a little wake-up shot. Sorry 'bout dat.

No beers on tap. Booooooo. Order some Kirin Ichiban and Asahi Super Dry in super-sized bottles. Looking better.

First, the edamame arriVes. Tastes like something I microwaVed 20 minutes ago and didn't salt. Now I know why this place isn't called "I LoVe Soy Beans!"

Once we have a second to peruse the menu, we find out what the owner's favorite pastime is. Here are some of the names of their rolls:

- Who's Your Daddy (Roll No. 57)
- Who's Your Mama (Roll No. 58)
- Who's Your Pimp (Roll No. 59)
- Who's Your X-Wife (Roll No. 60)
- John Holmes' Roll (Roll No. 68)
- Lisa Hand Roll (Roll No. 69, of course)
- Screaming Orgasm (Roll No. 16)
- Taste Like My X-Girl Friend (Roll No. 45)
- I Love My Ass (Roll No. 56)

I LoVe Sushi! Whooooooooooooooo!

Yes, really. You just can't make this stuff up.

The first main order was indiVidual pieces of sushi. The hamachi were some of the most buttery pieces I'Ve eaten this side of Nobu. The sake was even better. Unfortunately, they didn't haVe sake toro.

Then, we chowed on some cherry blossoms. These rolls were filled with soft shell crab, masago, scallion, wrapped with aVocado and topped with eel sauce. After the drinks, sushi and this decadent course, we were feeling a little flushed.

Thus, still up for more, we opted for something a little more boring -- need a little cooling off time before diVing back in. A tuna roll fits the bill. They appeared to be nicely-sized pieces, but the pieces were a little lacking on the underside.

Then, to make sure our experience finished happily, we tried the Lisa Hand Roll. It was spicy tuna, spicy crab, aVocado and tempura shrimp wrapped in soy bean paper. I'd loVe to meet this Lisa and tell her what I think of her roll.

Final Comment: Great food (except the edamame), wacky atmosphere, just don't bring your arch-conserVative/right-wing/uptight uncle with you. If you do, just take care of the ordering. OK?

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Monday

Cafe Ba Ba Reeba!

Cafe Ba Ba Reeba!, in the Fashion Show Mall
3200 Las Vegas BlVd.
Las Vegas, NeVada


What's sweet, salty, soft and feels oh, so good?

That's right -- bacon-wrapped roasted dates.

What did you think this was -- VegasViceViews?

Lets try again.

What's hot, spicy, meaty and poked with a stick?

That's right -- skewered chicken & chorizo sausage.

Cafe Ba Ba Reeba! is an outpost of the original Chicago tapas restaurant. It pales in comparison to Jaleo in Washington D.C., but it's better than Lola's Tapas Bar in Hoboken, New Jersey.

So where does all this leave you after you get the check? A little light in the wallet, especially if you eat until sated -- they do have to pay the rent in the Fashion Show Mall, after all.

Winners:
- Seafood salad, shrimp, scallops & squid: nice citrus marinade, seafood wasn't rubbery.
- Shrimp with garlic, olive oil & red pepper flakes: The shrimp were a little on the small side. The generous amount of garlic slices saved the day. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, garlic.
- The aforementioned bacon & date and chicken & chorizo dishes.
- Cross-cut potato chips: Served with the shrimp sandwich, they were piled twice as high as the sammy.

Not-quite-winners:
- Roast eggplant salad with goat cheese: There was one huge chunk of cheese in the middle, making it hard to share that part of the dish. The eggplant was overwhelmed by other flavors. A tad salty, too.
- The iced tea: Is that a Snapple bottle opening I hear?
- Roasted tomato soup -- A bit thin, and difficult to eat. It's served in a very tall, not very wide bowl. So the spoon goes in vertically and comes back out with very little liquid on it later. After eating half of it, I was just tired of the whole thing.

Final Comment: Nothing mind-blowing. Closer to Beavis & Butt-head in Burger World instead of Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally".

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Wednesday

The Coffee Shop -- TI

The Coffee Shop, in Treasure Island - TI Hotel and Casino
3300 Las Vegas BlVd.
Las Vegas, NeVada 89109


Time: 11:45 a.m.
Day: Sunday
Mission: Find Some Breakfast

The Wynn: We're staying there, lets try somewhere close by.
The Fashion Show Mall: Food court doesn't have waiter service. Ba Ba
Reeba not really a breakfast place. Capitol Grill too expensive.
The Mirage: Too far of a walk. Might faint.
Treasure Island: Close, probably not too expensive. Make a run for it!

The buffet would be awesome -- go go go! Turned away at the front
cashier -- no more breakfast food.

Kahunaville -- looks like drinks only.

Krispy Kreme -- nah. Starbucks -- yeah, right.

Isla Mexican Kitchen. A breakfast burrito sure would be tasty. Wait a
minute -- no breakfast here, either.

What does it take to get some eggs in this town! It's not like this is a
late-night city where people sleep in until the early afternoon then want
some stomach-settling breakfast grub.

Mission: failed.

But wait -- there's the Coffee Shop. I see pancakes. Run, before it's too
late!

The scene:
Red vinyl seats. Tons of tables. No pretense.

The drinks:
Fresh-squeezed OJ at almost $5. Good, but not that good.
Coffee -- basic diner coffee. Nothing special, especially nothing to name
the restaurant after.
Iced tea -- fantastic!

The eats:
Vegetable omelet, and lots of it -- the best I'Ve seen all day!
Two scrambled eggs with bacon, hash browns and toast -- eggs are
surprisingly moist, apple wood bacon is thankfully not soggy, but the
hash browns could use some more crispiness. Note to self: Say "Extra
crispy hash browns" next time.

The Villains:
All this effort to find breakfast food and you don't order breakfast?!

Their heathenistic grub:
Grilled vegetable sandwich (Portobello mushroom, red pepper, onion,
etc.) with a side of fruit -- the healthiest thing on the menu. Striking
flavor, maybe a tad salty.
Cobb Salad -- is there any lettuce underneath all this? More bleu
cheese, bacon, avocado and other toppings on a salad than I'Ve ever seen
before. Just an incredible amount of food. And gobs of ranch dressing to
boot.

Final Comment: One of the best casual restaurants in the immediate
area with a menu at least as long as a movie script.


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Sunday

Francesco's, in Treasure Island

Francesco's, in Treasure Island - TI Hotel and Casino
3300 Las Vegas BlVd.
Las Vegas, NeVada 89109


After not really finding any restaurants in the Mirage to our liking on that particular day, we took the FREE shuttle train over to Treasure Island - TI specifically to check out Francesco's.

Many upscale casino restaurants don't have a direct View of the casino. Either it's down a hallway, or there are side windows and a wall between the restaurant and casino, etc. This one looked smack dab into a row of one-armed bandits. Not so upscale to me.

As this is an Italian restaurant, the wine list leaned heavily on Vino from The Boot. 'Twas quite an impressive list, but the price range was a bit higher than elsewhere along The Strip.

The homemade gnocchi was quite delicious, although a bit expensive for the portion size. They weren't heavy, and the sauce wasn't overpowering.

The homemade pasta with basil sauce was also delicious but pricey. I usually try to aVoid ordering something I can rather easily make at home. But it was worth it in this instance -- the tomatoes were of a much-higher quality, and the sauce well-seasoned with basil.

Final Comment: Perfectly executed Italian cuisine, but I wouldn't go running back at every opportunity because of the pricing.

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Saturday

Inka Si Senor

Inka Si Senor, south of Sahara on Maryland
2797 South Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, NeVada


Things didn't look good for Inka. Not in the hip part of town, some might aVoid the area completely. The strip mall behind it had that not-so-fresh look. And the building itself has had more turnover than a manzana in such a dessert.

Upon entry at lunchtime (a little after 1pm), a solitary senor was a one table. Two more tables were used by a family of six that was about to leave. Maybe we arriVed at siesta and this PeruVian restaurant imported more than some regional dishes.

But then Miriam arrived to take our drink orders. Miriam, oh Miriam. Thou hast the radiance of a thousand suns. Thou art the server of the heaVens. Thou ...

Enough of that.

The first difficult choice -- which cerveza to choose: Cusquena, Cusquena negro or Cristal. Dos Cusquena negros, por faVor. Miriam was impressed (yeah, right).

Then some tortilla chips and salsa came. Good chips, too -- not Chi Chi's from a bag. The salsa was quite authentic, too -- not thick and tomato-y like gringo salsa. Some might say it was watery, but the flaVor was fantastic and had enough onions and other unidentifiable items to hold our interest.

Once the Arroz con Mariscos arriVed, we could almost see the Andes out the window. Rice, scallops, shrimp and calamari came on a plate that looked like a drier Version of paella. Peas, corn, onion accompanied mucho flaVor -- a Very well-done dish. Other seafood dishes with scallops, shrimp and calamari were also ordered -- mostly with rice on the side and either fried or sauteed.

Portions were large, too -- half of the Arroz con Mariscos had to be taken home -- especially in addition to the tortilla chips.

Somehow, we didn't touch anything from the "de mi Peru" section of the menu. Maybe next time. No doubt it's as close to authentic Peruvian cuisine as you'll find in L.V.

Final Comment: The menu says "Our food is so homemade that it never tastes the same." Just another reason to return again.

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Wednesday

Gordon Biersch

Gordon Biersch, just off The Strip
3987 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NeVada 89109


Oh boy. Line 'em up. Another warehouse-decorated brewery/restaurant.

No chance of a generic menu here. Let's see ...

- Signature hamburger with their own beer somehow incorporated: Gordon Biersch cheeseburger, Marzen barbecue burger.
- Fish & chips made with their own beer: Served with malt Vinegar. NeVer had that before.
- On the appetizer menu: Calamari, crab cakes, chicken wings or skewers and an all-in-one sampler. Wowee!

I'll give them that their beer is good. But I question some of the special season offerings (winter bock, maibock, bock-bock-bock. Repeat after me: winter bock, maibock, bock-bock-bock. Try that at your next football game instead of the old "push em back, push em back, waaaaaay back." Now, back to your regularly-scheduled reView).

So, the burger is good -- nothing particularly noteworthy. They could have used Budweiser in their cheeseburger and it would have tasted the same.

So who goes here and orders a salad? I do. Stay as far away from the Ahi (tuna) salad as you would from Chernobyl. Only came with 4 Very, Very thin mini-slices of tuna. Where's the brick of tuna?!

The asian chicken salad was ok -- a little too much dressing. Classic cobb salad wasn't anything I've had before, but done as well as could be expected.

The best food item there is the blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich. A nice, big hunk of protein. Strongly seasoned, but not overpowering. Great bun.

Final Comment: Solid beer offerings (try the Marzen), otherwise yet another typical brewhouse/restaurant.

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Sunday

The Capital Grille

The Capital Grille, in the Fashion Show Mall
3200 Las Vegas BlVd.
Las Vegas, NeVada 89109


How many dopey waiters are there in this town?!

Here's a little restaurant math: "HaVe you eVer eaten here before?" does NOT equal "HaVe you eVer eaten beef before?" (!)

After our group fatefully says "no" to the first question, the waiter promptly tells us:

- "We specialize in dry aged beef. That means it's aged for 21 days where it dries out and shrinks." (ed: Oh, Yum!)

- "Our specialty is the sirloin steak. That's a New York strip."

- "I also recommend the porterhouse. That's a T-Bone (ed: try again) with a petit filet on the other side."

- In response to the question if the steak sandwich is good: "That's our rib-eye -- also called a delmonico."

So, after getting an errant pre-school lesson in beef cuts, we order clam chowder, steak sandwiches and a grilled tuna salad.

Clam chowder -- too small for the price. Taste is okay.

Steak sandwiches come with good frites, but they pale in comparison to Mon Ami Gabi's. The sandwich itself is very good -- nice and hot, not too greasy, not too dry. Very well done, actually.

Grilled tuna salad -- good-sized hunk of rare-seared tuna. Salad underneath is generic.

Overall, this place is very expensive and doesn't hold a good Value if you're paying for the meal. HoweVer, if you'Ve got an expense account and some clients to impress, come on oVer. Just say you'Ve eaten here before.

Final Comment: Stay away if you're paying -- good food that's oVerpriced. Ideal if your company is footing the bill.

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Tsunami Asian Grill, in the Venetian

Tsunami Asian Grill, in the Venetian Hotel and Casino
3355 Las Vegas BlVd.
Las Vegas, NeVada 89109


Any place that has Kirin Ichiban on draft is two steps closer to being an object of my eVerlasting affection.

But, of course, the food has to shine eVen more brightly to make up for the heightened expectations.

I "ducked" (you'll get it later) into Tsunami to grab a one-dish meal. That happened to be the roasted duck with pineapple and basil in a red curry sauce.

The good -- the duck was off the bone (thankfully), the curry was hot but not killer hot and there was a lot of food.

The bad -- what happened to the rice?!

After asking a few times and already haVing eaten half the bowl, the white rice came. A little too sticky, but not bad.

Final Comment: Need to hit this joint again, but $14 for that meal is a good bargain when the other main option is Tao.

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