In a City Where They Truly Mean “Good Luck” or Vegas May 2012 Part 1

Who has two thumbs and a new toy?  This Girl!

I’ve been posting about my delicious adventures for over a year now and I keep getting the same comments about how there aren’t enough pictures and when there are, they kinda suck.  Well I now have a better camera on my phone (still can’t remember to bring a big kid camera with me), and what better city to try it out than Las Vegas! Bring on the food porn!

I’ll be in Vegas for 4 days on assignment for work.  Since I’m by myself it leads to some strange decisions about what to eat and where.  Sorry, I go where the menu calls.

Breakfast this morning was at The Coffee Shop inside Treasure Island where I’m staying.  I chose the Mushroom Omelet which came with hash-browns and choice of toast.

What a start to your day

The eggs are folded around a generous portion of sautéed mushrooms and a touch of swiss cheese.  A large slice of swiss on top forces me to twirl my fork like I’m eating spaghetti.  The ooey gooey cheese is mild in flavor with a hint of salt that balances the earthy mushrooms.

Hearty Seeded Rye with Strawberry Jam

I chose rye toast and was thrilled to see it was sliced thick and heavily seeded.  The strawberry jam was a perfect sweet note with this savory breakfast.  Portions were large so even though I was starved walking in, I ate about 2/3 of the omelet and crispy hash-browns and only one slice of the toast.

In a cheery mood, I headed for The Mirage where my trade show was getting set up.  I constructed my booth (no small feat I assure you) and prepared my presentations.  Still early in the day I set out to explore a bit.  I crossed the strip to The Venetian where there is plenty of good sight-seeing and shopping. Still full of energy I crossed back to Caesar’s Palace and wandered The Forum Shops. After 4 1/2 hours of walking I thought it might be a good idea to stop for lunch.

It occurred to me that I had been hanging on to a gift certificate for over a year because the restaurant it was for was not near me.  But was I really going to “waste” once in a lifetime food opportunities in Vegas on lunch at The Cheesecake Factory? – Eh, why not.

The Cheesecake Factory Caesar’s Palace, Vegas Strip

I was pleasantly surprised.  I found a spot at the bar and ordered a Fat Tire draft while I looked over the crazy huge menu.  Fat Tire is a toasty colored Amber Ale.  Light and simple it is always a good impulse pick but never going to be your favorite.  For lunch I chose the Beet and goat cheese salad. Something I was not expecting to see on a sandwich/burger/pasta/Americana menu.

Beets and Goat Cheese

Well done Cheesecake Factory! Served on a bed of arugula are diced granny smith apples, roasted beets, toasted pecans, thinly sliced red onion and crumbles of herbed goat cheese.  The balance of textures from the crisp apples, firm beets and creamy goat cheese were wonderful.  The sweet beets and sour apples enhanced the peppery arugula.  This was a very well thought out salad and a great find in their “Skinnylicious” menu and just $6 too.  Somehow I did resist the cheesecake though and headed on my way.

I headed back to my room to play catch up on some emails and work on my presentation some more all the while knowing that dinner was a treat I planned out from the moment I checked in.  Each email brought me closer to my goal – a giant bowl of pho.

One of the restaurants in Treasure Island is Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant specializing in a popular regional soup called pho.  Pronounced “fuh” this traditional soup has its roots in street food mixed with French “visitors”.  While it has evolved to have many variations, the most traditional and common is made with paper-thin slices of beef so this is the version I ordered.

Pho with the traditional sides

This is the traditional presentation. This is a very large bowl of rich beef broth.  The most nostalgic counts of pho tell of the rich broth, pungent and dark with classic spices and ginger.  This broth was lighter and more subtle but still warm and complex.  In the broth will be a large mound of rice noodles and thin slices of beef.  Here the beef was paper-thin and tender.  It can be precooked and warmed in the broth or thrown in to the hot broth to cook as it arrives at your table.  Floating on top are green onions and various herbs like cilantro or basil.  On the side you will typically receive raw bean sprouts, more herbs, limes and chilies.  Many also will add siracha sauce or chili paste.

The protein can vary, some use meat balls, chicken, offal or other combinations.

I happily squeezed my lime to add a touch of acid to the unctuous broth.  Adding the herbs as you go lets you keep them fresh for each bite without overcooking them.  I also save the sprouts for last after I run out of noodles.

In many a travel guide or youtube video you see people hold chopstick in one hand and their soup spoon in the other to alternate between the beef and noodles and the broth.  I am not this ambidextrous and have to go back and forth. Still totally worth it!

Vegas, you always feed me well, and I still have two more days!

Until we eat again,



About Jen The Nerd

Nerd that likes food - What else do you need to know?
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1 Response to In a City Where They Truly Mean “Good Luck” or Vegas May 2012 Part 1

  1. Dave Cunix says:

    We have a new Pho place in the same plaza as Corky’s. We’ll go to lunch there the next time you’re available.

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