Mike and Chao Double Down

This blog has inspired me (Mike). For too many years my dining life has taken a back burner to my office life. Go ahead and judge me, but I have on more than one occasion turned down a dinner invite because I had… work to do. And so now, without further ado, I say: NO MORE. I quit my job last week.

Now, what do you do when you find yourself riddled with free time and your final bonus check? That’s right, you go to VEGAS.


Don’t think this is a real photo from our Vegas trip? You have a keen eye, friend. Due to the nature of our time in Vegas, our photos were confiscated by various members of Vegas law enforcement/organized crime. We can assure you, however, that the “photo” above is pretty much exactly what happened. That’s actually how we dress in Vegas, and we have a private bar with a life-size replica of the ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign.

Wynn, Wazuzu, and Winning


Our day began when we checked in at the Wynn Encore. We were greeted by the Wynn Director of Marketing Steve Jaffe, then we got down to business: Wazuzu. The Wynn’s Pan Asian Bistro, led by Chef Jet Tila, was absolutely superb. The perfect place to begin our semi-indulgent journey. We got to talking shop with Steve, learning a little more about the ins and outs of Vegas’ restaurant scene, then took in a few rounds of some of the finest sashimi we’ve had.

Temporarily satiated, we hit the casino. When we look back on our time in Vegas, we’re going to remember a Rain Man-meets-Hangover montage of Chao counting cards and Mike counting money, all music and lights and a hint of risk.


In reality, Mike ended up with $100 (not too shabby) and Chao was cleaned out within twenty minutes…but it’s not like we came to gamble and we weren’t even really trying anyway…

The Dine-Around Begins

Enter Eric Swanson, a Vegas-based sake sommelier and the unofficial mayor of Sin City, introduced to us by his mentor, the illustrious John Gauntner (who you met in our last post). Ah, the importance of networking.

Eric had planned for us a one-night-only dine-around, beginning with Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood. We were blown away by the Hot & Cold Foie Gras A La Japonne, with sea urchin, sour plum, and grilled scallion, beyond our initial excitement over dining in the perfectly executed celeb chef domain. Our next stop was Shibuya, the MGM Grand’s award-winning Japanese joint, followed by Social House, the sushi-meets-style Pan-Asian concept in Crystals at City Center. So far, each place was a definite win. It was at our final stop, however, that they were all outdone.

Hands down, Raku was the all-out winner. It’s off the strip (one more reason to thank our tour guide) and is wildly popular with some of Vegas’ big name chefs/industry people, which can only mean good things. If all we had done in Vegas was hit up Raku, that would have been worth the trip. We truly never thought we’d fly across the country for tofu, but the Fried Homemade Tofu in Hot Broth that they make–unbelievable. It’s the perfect texture, bursting with these flavors that we really didn’t know tofu could handle:

Late Night in Vegas

This is when it all really began. Post-dine-around, stuff started getting weird–such that the final step of our journey isn’t so much for everyone to read about. Only a select few. Take a guess at the password and see if you’re one of those few.


The Wrap-Up

Now the movie jumps forward to a slightly heavier, mildly hungover Mike and Chao, hunched in their seats at the airport, wincing at the sight of any food/beverage establishments. And here’s what we came away with, a little Vegas-related wisdom for you:

1. 48 hours in Vegas is just right.

Enough to cover some ground, but still leaves you with any desire to return, should the great state of Nevada allow you to do so (fingers crossed for Chao).

2. Find your Eric.

Reservations are hard to come by and guidance is sorely underrated. If you stick with Rule #1 (keep it short), having focus is important. A guide like Eric helps. Actually, just go ahead and call Eric. Forget finding a guide.

3. Try at least one of the spots above.

They’re all incredible; one is bound to be within walking distance. Especially if walking distance means a ride down to the lobby.

4 thoughts on “Mike and Chao Double Down”

  1. OMG, isn’t Wazuzu divine?
    I ate myself retarded — on the company dime — when I was there in May for the National Hardware Show (yee-haw).

    Next time you go, grab breakfast at Bouchon in the Venetian. Holy French indulgence, foodies.

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