Saturday, March 31, 2012

Vegas, Baby! - Part III

We went to the cafe in our hotel for breakfast. Simple and easy. That's how we roll. There were places I wrote down to try but had forgotten what they were, and was much happier scrapping any plans or destination and just went with it.

For some reason, breakfast time is always quite often my favorite time during holidays. There is just something about waking up early and not having to go to work, and having all the time in the world to sit down and eat. The day has just started and you're just getting fueled to do whatever your heart so desires for the day.

After fueling up, we took the cab the the north Premium Outlets in hopes to pour out our wallets. I knew there was a cheaper option in taking the bus. But we're in Vegas, where people throw out their dollars at the casino tables, and us... at whatever makes life easier. Unfortunately, it was a pretty unsuccessful trip with not too many finds. One thing that I did find was...  Ming's patience with me spending half the time at the Oliver Peoples store pulling my hair out with a little fiasco that I created for myself. That... is a story for another time.

By night, we decided to check out Koi at Planet Hollywood. 

I think I've been to a fair share of fancy restaurants, but the decor of Koi was still impressive.  

Except, one thing didn't quite fit the fancy decor. Ming pointed that out. (At least the lid was green to match the greenery?).

Yummy, yummy lychee mojitos. One drink was enough to get me a little bit buzz happy.

Salmon carpaccio with truffle. It was so. Good. Oh, the truffle goodness.

Spicy tuna. What do you think the pink is? We guessed ginger. It isn't ginger. It was all such an amazing combo.

Steamed sablefish. Mmm.... very delicious with its spicy consomme.

One of the best meals ever. Everything was super fresh and tasty. Safe to say we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Very much so. Oh, I could have it all again. Would I recommend Koi? I wouldn't if you're on a budget. But for the experience of such innovative, fresh, and flavourful food... to me, it was all very well worth it. A meal is the best when you come home and can't forget it. Doesn't have to be expensive or fancy, but the wonderful experience of great food... seems to always be memorable.

Planet Hollywood. By late night, this casino is one of the most happenin'. I think it has much to do with their "pleasure pit". Ming says he doesn't doubt it. Boys will be boys.

After dinner, we took a stroll along the strip. The air is a lot cooler and a light jacket was required. It was comfortable.

Am I a little obsessed with the Cosmopolitan building? The blue lights that light up the building makes it so attractive.

We somehow ended up back at the M&M store and bought a crapload more of chocolates. This time, I spotted this orange mug from afar, and squealed, "Aww, cuuuute!". I have this bad habit of buying oversized mugs from wherever I travel and although I rotate and use them all, I definitely do not need another one. But... I couldn't pass up its cute face and its happy bright colour. We ended up buying matchin' mugs.

For dessert, we checked out Jean Phillippe's chocolate shop. I regret not buying any of the chocolates, but we tried out their gelato. Look at their cute Easter decorations.


Am disappointed to report that it wasn't that good. Mine was too sweet (and I like sweet things). ( If you want really good gelato, I'm still thinkin' of the mango and jackfruit gelato back home from La Casa.)

Also at Jean Philippe's shop, they have the world's largest chocolate fountain. 

We retired back to our hotel room and soaked up as much R&R as we could.

Oh yah, what did we do between morning and night? 

A whole lot of this...

Sleeping with the curtains in "blackout" mode and the TV softly buzzing in the background. (There is a button on the wall to press and the three layers of curtains would roll down and black out the room). 

Laziness at its best. During broad daylight and on a busily buzzing strip, we were sleeping. For me, it was absolutely restful. Something that I rarely get on my regular days. Even when I'm right about to go to bed, I'm often thinking about what I need to do the next few days. So, complete R&R like this for me is hard to come by. 

Hence... it was an absolute perfect four days. 

Next time, perhaps we'll bring the sleeping to a quiet, tropical beach. But for the price we paid for this trip, I'm not complaining.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Vegas, Baby! - Part II

I got a startling whack in the head with a pillow at 9am in the morning, which no doubt woke me up. Sigh, the things I let him get away with...

Anyway, we got up shortly after and decided to check out Earl of Sandwich in Planet Hollywood, a sandwich place recommended by many. Looking at the menu, I was imagining something like Quiznos. But to my surprise, it was so much better. The bread was soft and the filling was always hot. We ordered the "Original" (which was roast beef) and a turkey & cranberry one and swapped halves. It was so good we went back a second time during the trip!

After food, we made our way down one end of the strip towards New York, New York to pick up show tickets. On the way there, we made a stop at the M&M store. Y'see, my coworkers always bring back something from the M&M store whenever someone makes a trip to LV, and I wasn't going to break tradition. 

After picking up tickets from New York, New York, we wanted to go to the Fashion Mall of course.... on the other side of the strip. Being in vacation mode, it only made sense to pay and ride the monorail. 

The other side... 

One thing about Ming is his obsession with shoes. "Take a picture of this store," he told me. Because it was his favorite. We both ended up picking up something there, but that will be for a later post.

Making our way back to the hotel, we did more window shopping at Caesars.

By then, we were both exhausted. Or lazy. So we made a pit stop at Cheesecake Factory. I was parched. Although I normally try to stay away from syrupy drinks, this one was much needed and ever so satisfying. 

We ordered a bite to eat. The waiter pointed out that we didn't order very much. But it was 3pm, and we only needed to quench our thirst and snack. I suppose... in Vegas, 3pm is when people normally wake up to have lunch.

Baked mushrooms and tuna.

Along the strip, we bumped into all different sorts of characters. Homer looked particularly sad. I had a creepy urge to go and give him a hug. Or take a photo with him out of pity. But no, I didn't.

After all that shopping, we headed back to the hotel room for an afternoon nap.

Well, I tried to nap. While the TV was blaring ESPN.

Soon after, we were both out like a light. I woke up a couple hours later to a few text messages from Bran. While we had pretty much decided we might as well chillax and skip the show that we had picked up tickets for earlier in the day, I also felt perhaps we shouldn't waste the tickets. Although free. Free tickets to the Cirque show, Zumanity. So, I woke Ming up from his nap and watched him reluctantly pull himself out of bed. 

Zumanity was... of course, if anyone knows what Zumanity is... different. Although not something we would have chosen to watch, I must say for myself, it was still funny and entertaining. Story in short, we would have wanted to watch the Jaberwockees but the tickets were all sold out. These free tickets came with the package we bought, but with a malfunctioning website and out-of-service phone number, we weren't able to book the shows we wanted before arriving in LV. Zumanity and Elvis Cirque were the only ones left. And for some reason, Ming wanted to avoid Elvis like the plague.

Anyway, leaving our hotel meant passing by the Bellagio again. Here's another photo for the heck of it. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vegas, Baby! - Part I

Our flight over was uneventful for the most part. I bought a magazine at the airport (somewhat of a tradition of mine before a flight), but having arrived at the airport way too early, I finished the magazine before I boarded. My plan was to start reading the Hunger Games on the plane, but was distracted with the entertainment of watching Ming play his PVZs (Plant Vs. Zombies) on his iPad. Before that, he schooled me in a few games of Connect Four. (I let him win... ). Somehow, the three hours zipped by and we landed in LA. 

We had 1.5 hours to get to our connecting flight, which seems like a lot of time. But when you're at LAX, with airport staff that aren't very helpful... somehow, those 1.5 hours were spent exiting the airport, trying to find a different terminal, and going through security all over again. But... I'm writing all that just for memory sake ("Remember that time when...?"). We did make it on our next flight no problem and made it into Las Vegas as expected.

Cabbed it to the hotel and quickly checked in. Welcome to our humble home of four days - Vdara

This is our livingroom. Which is connected to the bedroom. On the other side, the kitchen and dining table.

Don't ring our doorbell. We won't answer.

This was our beautiful lobby.

Because we arrived at night, and without having much to eat on the plane, we were starving. I had raved about this restaurant in the Palazzo, and I really wanted Ming to try it. We rushed ourselves out to the strip. On our way over, I was still able to take snap a few of these on the way.

To get to the strip from Vdara, we walked through the Bellagio. The garden was adorn with Easter decorations. The vibrant colours and the invitation of Spring made me instantly... happy. 

Ming doesn't take photos nor did he carry a camera, but a few times, he would give me directions on where to take mine. "Here, you should take it from here," he pointed. From his angle, was the next photo. (Sorry about the fuzziness. We were in a bit of a rush to eat).

The other two times I was in Vegas, I never got to watch the Bellagio fountain. This time, I did. Doesn't matter that I've seen it from afar or seen many photos of it before... and have seen many other water fountains before too... I loved it. I still found the grandiose beauty of it.

We finally made it to Sushi Samba. I ate at this restaurant the last two times I was in Vegas, and I thoroughly enjoyed it both times. Luckily, there was only the two of us to seat, so getting a table was easier. The restaurant was packed. Why do I love this restaurant? It's a fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian food. If you don't like fusion, this restaurant isn't for you. For me, I love Japanese food... this was like Japanese food with "a kick and a punch". 

Just like the past two times, I ordered a "sampler". Basically, have them choose off the menu what we should eat. This makes it easier and each dish comes as a surprise. I specified no wasabi 'cause Ming doesn't eat it or anything that touches it. Ming thanked me later for remembering to order no wasabi. Well... what fun would it be if I had to eat everything myself? Hmm...actually, that wouldn't be such a bad idea. But, I'm nice. So I shared.

Our drinks came first. My watermelon drink was so refreshing. Ming's drink brought out his asian gene. 

Tuna Tataki. With a spin. It had a fragrant leaf underneath, to be eaten all together. Ming wasn't sure about the herby flavour of it. I didn't mind it so much.

Tuna tacos with a spicy foam sauce.

Calamari. Also with a kick.

Peruvian corn. I love it. It's sweet and chewy. The seared miso sablefish was our favorite. It was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth.

Three different types of rolls : 1) Carnaval - shrimp, avacado, yellowtail tartar, crispy rice paper. 2) BoBo Brazil - seared wagyu beef, avacado, kaiware, shiso, red onion, chimichurri. 3) Rainbow Dragon - freshwater eel, red bell pepper, cucumber, mango, avacado.

I think we both agreed the Carnaval roll was our favorite. I think it was the most refreshing. It was different with the crispy rice paper versus seaweed. The shiso leaf in the Bobo Brazil might have slightly overpowered everything else in the roll. It was all still very yummy. And different. And new.

Who takes unflattering photos of other people eating? Umm, I do. 

Hey, it was one amazing dinner. Had to document it all.

The night ended up with us being completely satisfied in our stomachs. We made a trip into Walgreens to pick up a few essentials for our room, and then we headed back to chill. On the way back, raindrops pitter-pattered here and there. Wet floors + me = slippage. I fell in the middle of the sidewalk, banging my knee against the cement and scraping my left elbow completely raw. I have no idea why I'm so prone to falls. I never see it coming. The next minute, I'm on the ground. I wasn't going to let it get me down, and brushed it off. 

Later on that night in the hotel room, Ming said he doesn't want to travel with me again. I asked why. He said that I'm too prone to accidents or getting hurt, which may mean me stuck in a hotel room not being able to go anywhere and him having to stay behind too. I told him that he was free to roam without me. He said, he wouldn't do that. Couldn't leave me alone. 

That's when I realized I was in good hands of my travel buddy.

Or, so I thought.....

(To be continued... ).