Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dining in Vegas (Part III-Dos Caminos & Zine)

Lunch is a great time in Vegas to try out the "lighter" restaurants. On consecutive days we tried two different restaurants that are night and day from each other in execution and quality: Dos Caminos and Zine Noodle Bar. To be fair, these were restaurants were not chosen by a scientific, studied method of choosing just the right restaurant after hours of research and reading reviews. Instead, the decision to eat at these places was made when the front desk gave us a couple of $30 coupons for each restaurant. So we spun the wheel of fate.

Zine's website proclaims that it has Vegas's "most authentic Asian noodle dishes." I love good Asian noodles, either Chinese sesame noodles or a Vietnamese rice noodle soup or Japanese ramen (the real stuff, not what you get in a package for 25 cents). However, looking over the four page, mixed culture menu left me confused as to what they may do well and what I should order.

I love good Chinese dim sum type appetizers, and we ordered some potstickers. As I also have mentioned before, I love Vietnamese egg rolls, and we also got an order of that. Both were ok, workman like examples. Moderately enjoyable. The eggrolls did not have the fresh herbs that traditionally accompany them.

The entrees were terrible. As I was in a noodle bar, I assumed that ordering a noodle dish would be the way to go, and I got the "Fried Rice Noodle with Beef". I got a large plate overflowing with mushy overcooked rice noodles and rubbery bits of beef, all swimming in a pool of viscous, flavorless brown sauce.

In contrast, Dos Caminos was a joy to visit. The restaurant is enormous, with an inviting bar area, begging you to join them in a overstuffed lounge chair and have a margarita or two while watching the crowd go by. The server was great--she did a great job of explaining the menu, the dishes that she liked best, and why. I hate it when a waiter just wants to tell you what is "popular" as opposed to what the chef and the staff (that has been around the food and knows what they do well) like to eat.

The tortillas were freshly made, as was the guacamole we ordered. The braised pork was very tender, in a flavorful sauce. Very nice experience.

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