MOzen Bistro – Las Vegas, NV
Two weeks ago, I was in Las Vegas for work again and once again, I found myself with the cash to spend for food yet, I would have to eat alone. This may sound a little sad, but you know…it did not phase me too much. Mostly because with no other mouths to which I must account for their differing tastes than mine, I could eat anything I wanted and I tend to go all out. So for one of the nights, I decided to splurge on a great meal. However, even though I had a budget that would be more than any one person can eat, I still had to be mindful of what I did spend (aka I could not go out to a place that would charge me $25 for an appetizer course). With that frame of mind, I found on Yelp.com a highly rated restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel – MOzen Bistro.
The restaurant is an fusion of Japanese, Indian, Thai, and Korean flavors, with a dash of American twists sprinkled intermittently. They describe themselves as a sampler of the “flavors of the east.” Although from the surface the restaurant sounds like it is thoroughly confused, I can assure you it is not because without going into detail, I had a sample of the range of flavors they could work with and I was surprisingly impressed. Their attention to details to the dishes were astounding and even their space was very well thought out. It may not have been on the 23rd floor of the hotel, but the restaruant was beautifully designed in a cozy space. Basic, elegant, chic, and completely my style. As it was a Monday night, the restaurant was really quiet with only a couple of covers other than mine. However, granted that it was a slow night and the wait staff could have slacked off, the service here at MOzen was always attentive and friendly.
After some consideration from my waitress recommendations where she mentioned that the restaurant has one of the most arguably fresh sushi available, I started off my meal with the salmon nigri.
Two cuts of tender, fresh, vibrant pieces of salmon appeared before me, sitting atop of little bit of sushi rice. I must say, this salmon was definitely comparable to some of the finer sushi restaurant’s I have visited here in Vegas. I do apologize for the poor quality of the photo though. The lighting in the restaurant was dim and I tried to not use my flash, but then this is the result. In looking at this picture, you cannot grasp how beautiful this simple little fish was. I may need to come back to try other cuts and take proper pictures next time.
Next up, for my entree, I knew I had to try this when I saw it on the menu: Northern Indian Lamb Shank Curry. Ok…let it sink in…it is a bone-in lamb shank simmered in a rich, dark curry. Two of my favorite things merged together: lamb shank and curry. I was in heaven I thought from just reading the description, but then when the whole meal came out…
I could only stare in awe. I think my mouth may have been hanging open with a giddy air about me when I sat with this meal before me. The menu described everything that would be coming to me, but I don’t think I completely registered the sheer breath of this meal until it arrived to me. It was an amazing sight and the aroma was just overwhelmingly mouthwatering! The lamb shank was cooked so tendered it was almost fall of the bones. The curry was rich, earthy, and complex with multitude of spices working together to draw you in for more and had just the right amount of “kick”. I would have just picked up the bowl and slurped it all down had I been at home (or at least in a restaurant with more people so no one would really notice me doing that). However, I lapped up all the yummy curry with the lamb and basmati rice.
Above the main course was the naan which wasn’t quite the rustic, freshly made naan that I had come to enjoy and love at authentic Indian restaurants. However, at least they did not give me pita bread and tell me that was naan (that makes me SO angry! Come on! Like really?!?!) but I question whether it was made in house. Either way, it was the perfect vehicle for one of the surprises of the night which was the lentils! I love, love curry lentils, but so often I am disappointed by the lentil dishes I get because they are bland, watery, and plain sad. MOzen’s lentils were NOTHING of that nature. It was POW in your face flavor town! Quite honestly, the lentils could stand as a main dish on its own, perfect for the vegetarians palates and yet, scrumptious for the carnivores like myself. The lentils were just as rich as the lamb curry, but not as spicy. It is hard to describe it other than it was an explosion of AWESOME. (MOzen…can you just hand over the pot of lentils to me now?…)
The entire meal was one amazing adventure after another. My only criticism would be that it was REALLY hard cutting into my lamb shank that was sitting in the bowl. I kept thinking if I cut the wrong way, I would just tip the bowl over and lose all my precious curry. Perhaps if MOzen could find some flat bottom bowls and change the plate it sits on top of, then the eater would be less scared to cut into his or her meat.
Even after that monstrous meal for one, I had to finish the dinner off properly with dessert. I know I could have walked right next door to Bellagio for dessert at one of my favorite patisseries, Jean Philippe Patisserie, but I wanted to see how MOzen handled desserts. When I took a look over the menu, the offerings all sounded good yet my stretching stomach reminded me that I only had a little room left, so I opted for the house-made gelato. The waitress told me ALL the flavor selections they had for the day (there was at least 10 flavors, so it made me wonder if it was perhaps the central kitchen making it and distributed to all the outlets in the hotel) and my ears perked at a few.
Starting from the bottom and going counterclockwise: salted caramel, pistachio, and pumpkin spice. Of the three, the pumpkin spice was the one I was most excited to order yet…when I finally tasted all three…it ranked #3 overall! I have an obsession with pumpkin everything so that says something because the pumpkin spice gelato was still really good. However, the winner of this show was hands down, no question, all the eggs in the basket (ok I know, you get it)…it was the salted caramel! The balance was just so right that it made me forget how full I was because I couldn’t have enough! The pistachio was #2 and even though I wish they did not use food coloring, the flavor was still quite strong with my favorite nut.
This was one of the best meals I’ve had at on the Strip for some time now and for the end bill ($77 with tax & tip) was well worth it. The chef had a brilliant idea and was able to get a well trained team to execute it to perfection. Everything I had that night was spotless and my tongue was giddy with joy by the end. Thank you MOzen for making me believe in what a
good great meal should be in Vegas!
(in the Mandrin Oriental Hotel)
3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89158