Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Noodles (Bellagio)- Las Vegas

Noodles

After walking around CityCenter and Bellagio it was quite obvious that I needed to go back to the room and sleep. But what about dinner? The quick choice we could think of was Noodles. It's an Asian restaurant where you can order and eat quick- casual dining. But of course, being in Bellagio, all the prices were inflated compared to what you would see in Asian restaurants in California, just like every other hotel on the Strip with Asian food.

Noodles Table Setting

We were seated at what they called the bar area, instead of a table. The restaurant was filled with family and visitors. To the sides were condiments as well as toothpicks and the like.

Singapore Noodles

Ordering was quite quick and easy. The employees spoke Mandarin and/or Cantonese which was excellent and a good thought for being an Asian restaurant on the strip that serves mostly authentic Asian food. Our server was friendly if not a bit quick in terms of service but that is usual for Chinese restaurants (unless you are at a really high end one). My companion ordered the Singapore Curry Rice Vermicelli (18 USD), which looked excellent and did taste quite good. My other companion tried it and liked it too. I didn't try it as I was sick and didn't want to eat. What can I tell you? Look at the photo. The shrimps look high quality. And that screams good! If the shrimps can be good, then the rest is good. :) (Most places that serve so-so versions have bad shrimp)

Chicken Curry

The Chicken Curry (15 USD) was something my other companion was surprised at. She was expecting a curry similar to Tasty Garden's or President Thai's version but this was completely different. The curry had tons of oil on top like what you see on Rasa Malaysia/Nyonya Food. My dining companion did not really like this curry. Very straight up, no coconut milk. The chicken was so so either- very mushy, which meant it was not fresh. My companions ended up eating the curry with the rice but left the chicken alone. Mushy chicken= not fresh, which is not nutritious for your body anyway.

Century Egg and Pork Porridge

I had the Century Egg and Pork Porridge (13 USD), which was evidently cooked in a pressure cooker. And that said, the porridge was quite excellent. The rice was cooked into little pieces and the congee was ultra smooth and thick. The century egg and pork were placed all in the bottom, with the porridge poured on top. The century eggs were just cut into cubes and put into the bowl, not warmed or cooked like at Full House. The pork was shredded and was good, other than the fact that it was oversalted! Overall, it was a very nice porridge. It would have been even better if the pork was not oversalted.

Mixed Vegetables

The Mixed Vegetables (14 USD) was a simple stir fry of garlic, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, bok choy, and mushrooms. The broccoli was a tad bitter but otherwise it was what the description I wrote :). But I kind of expect more when paying so much, even if they have to make it "pedestrian" for all people to eat. As you'll find out on a later post, lunch the next day had a mixed vegetable plate that was 1/3 the cost but had much more ingredients in it!

Overall, it is an OK choice if you have to go due to special circumstances or convenience, but otherwise it is much, much better to go off strip to Chinatown for Chinese food, or going to places like Pearl or Studio Wok (all at MGM) which serve good food for the cost. Prices here are inflated by at least 200% to 500% compared to the San Gabriel Valley where Chinese food is plentiful. That's the Hotel standard for Chinese restaurants. And even at the price, not all the food was at least tasty (unlike Studio Wok or Pearl) so I don't really recommend to come here if you have other places you still want to try. Also, order Noodle items. There is a reason the place is called "Noodles"! The executive chef on the Bellagio channel (in room) said the wonton noodle soup is worth trying out (apparently they have to make at least 2000 wontons a day!). I would have tried it out, but shrimp when you are really, really sick is pretty much a no-go. I love the chef video (his history is just like mine, with all the cooking as a child stuff!), but the food (mainly talking about the curry and the veggies) could be better especially when you are paying this much. :)

Next up? The famous Bellagio fountains! And then, Capital Seafood/Pho Vietnam, our lunch spot and where I finally started to feel better after getting some Chinese herbal medicine.


Bellagio Las Vegas
3600 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Tel: (702) 693-7111

Noodles (Bellagio) on Urbanspoon


This trip series posts are listed in order below:
Driving Scenes: CA-Las Vegas, Spring 2010
VIP Lounge at Bellagio Las Vegas and Check In
Bellagio Review 2010: Penthouse Suite on the 35th Floor
Bellagio Review 2010: Tower Deluxe Queen Room on the 35th Floor (Room Connector)
Walkaround: Bellagio, CityCenter (Aria, Jean Philippe Patisserie)- Las Vegas
Noodles (Bellagio)- Las Vegas
Fountains of Bellagio- Las Vegas
Pho Vietnam & Capital Seafood- Las Vegas
Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Spring)/ Check In Area- Las Vegas
Aureole- Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay)
The Buffet (Bellagio)- Las Vegas
Las Vegas Spring 2010 Trip Day 3: Caesars Palace Forum Shops and Driving Scenes: Las Vegas to LA

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Walkaround: Bellagio, CityCenter (Aria, Jean Philippe Patisserie)- Las Vegas

So after going to the VIP lounge and taking pictures of our room, my companions decided to take a walk to see what Aria really was like as the VIP person told us to do. We knew Bellagio already- would Aria meet our expectations to just stay there for one night?

Jean Philippe Patiserrie Bellagio Chocolate Fountain

On our way to the tram though, we stopped by at the Jean Philippe Patisserie at the Bellagio just to look around. Plus, people were taking pictures and video of this: the largest chocolate fountain/waterfall in the world. I took a picture with this five years ago. Five years later, still no change. White chocolate, dark chocolate, and a mix of the white and dark chocolate still flow down from the top to the bottom, aided by glass pieces. Just this time, I was the one taking the picture and not my companion!

Jean Philippe Patiserrie Bellagio Chocolate Fountain Bottom Up View

Here is another crazy picture that I took. But due to the lighting, all the chocolate looks blackish. And you can see me in the picture too although I blurred myself and the employees out.

We then arrived at the tram area and I was only getting more tired with more of a headache. But I wanted to see more! Bad and good. Because, what did a lady say to her husband with a small child? "I can't move faster since I'm waiting for this tortoise to move forward."

She thought I couldn't hear, but of course I could hear her! I love to observe people and listen to other people's conversations (here, here) when I'm not talking. And my hearing ability is better compared to the people who my age that pump their earphones so high in volume I can hear from 20 feet away.

Mean comments make people unhappy in any situation, whether it be school, work, or vacation. The lady was just rushing to go back to the Monte Carlo via tram and did not want to wait a few more minutes for the next tram to come, and didn't want to walk around me either. However, we all struck lucky as the tram didn't leave anyway. It's kind of like at the situation where you see a car rush and then get a red light, while you are driving slowly to what you know will be a red light. She rushed. I relaxed with a headache and 101 degree fever. We got the same result! It always makes anyone happy to see that especially when they are the relaxed person.

Besides, relax. You're on vacation. Vacation= relax, not rush! Maybe that is why people want to go to places like Pelican Hill. They can't relax in a busy area. They can only relax in a secluded, comforting area. Places like Las Vegas don't make them relax.

Crystals Mall

So, we entered Crystals after a graceful tram ride. Not the best way to get into Aria, as walking through the path to Vdara and then cutting through to Aria's main port cochere is the better way. I should have listened to Protocol Snow! Protocol Snow also has more photos of Crystals too. I don't. This was the only photo I took. Wasn't feeling any better to take pictures of anything, but the view was interesting, if a bit filled with too much white and angular points throughout the mall.

We passed through the bluish glass area you see in the above photo to get to Aria, which involved passing through a nice reflecting pool. A child said "Ni hao" or "Hi" in Chinese to us and everyone else. How nice!

And we entered Aria. If you love contrast, this entrance is perfect for you. Crystals is white. Aria is black. Wood signs become black signs with white text. Walls are black/chocolate brown. The lighting is dim but doesn't make you feel like you're in a pitch black area. Yet, all around you, it is all black.

And yes, we did pass by Maya Lin's sculpture. Not feeling to take any photos, I didn't take any. (Should I even be writing this article where I was all dizzy and tired?) And we entered the dark casino which I just described in the last paragraph for you. Mood goes worse and worse. We left Bellagio happy, but now it was more of annoyance/ go back to room/ unhappy mood.

Which is exactly why we decided not to stay at Aria. Dark, stark, cold feeling. How do you feel welcome? You can use dark colors like Wynn does but still feel very welcome in their casino. Aria? Not really. And no wonder why there were just a handful of people gambling. Who wants to gamble in a dark area anyway? All the high end places offer bright casinos, if you haven't noticed yet (e.g. Palazzo, Wynn, Encore all do).

Chocolate Flowers Display Jean Philippe Patiserrie Aria

There were some bright spots in the casino which we were attracted to. One was Jean Philippe Patisserie. Instead of the chocolate fountain, chocolate flowers were the key at Aria!

Red Egg at Jean Philippe Patisserie- Aria

Purple Egg at Jean Philippe Patisserie- Aria

For decoration, there were some eggs placed for display only.

Chocolate Sculpture at Jean Philippe Patisserie- Aria

And a chocolate sculpture with chocolate confections and marshmallows placed next to it was also part of the decoration scheme.

Jean Philippe Patiserrie Aria Store

If you like a different view, here it is. The man you see looking at the products was actually taking pictures, just like me.

Jean Philippe Patiserrie Breads Aria

Sandwiches at Jean Philipppe Patisserie Aria

But of course, other than crepes, confections, and ice cream, there was more at Jean Philippe Patisserie. Like sandwiches, which people were bringing in to the Bellagio with the plastic boxes you see in the photo.

Jean Philippe Patiserrie Desserts Aria

There were also plenty of desserts to choose from. Didn't try any but they all looked nice.

Pastries at Jean Philipppe Patisserie Aria

And you know the pastries? They were actually made by machine. Kind of expected so. But the video showing how they made them confirmed my thoughts.

123 Chill Aria

Finished looking at Jean Philippe Patisserie, we decided to go upstairs to see what was available. Besides, it was finally BRIGHT! The second floor housed the buffet, which sadly had no people, and several restaurants. We wanted to eat at Aria but decided Bellagio would be better. Walking towards where we started off, we walked by 123 Chill, an interesting ice cream place. My companions wanted to buy ice cream to make me happier but I declined. Why eat ice cream here when there is Amore Patisserie at the Mandarin Oriental to visit? (no report on that)

Aria Porte Cochere

And somehow, we found our way out of Aria. Back to the Bellagio!

Art at CityCenter

There was plenty of art still to see and here was one of them.

Art at Vdara

This was near Vdara.

Aria

And before we walked back to the hotel (not taking the tram this time!), I took a picture of Aria's back...

Vdara

And Vdara. We walked through Vdara (through a dim walkway), and walked through the cold walkway and back into the Bellagio we were! Headache just got worse.

Waterfall at Sensi Bellagio Las Vegas

To end the post, how about a photo of the waterfall at Sensi at Bellagio? It is a simple but elegant water feature that attracts kids. It's fun blowing on water, after all.

Next in the series? Noodles (Bellagio)- Las Vegas. The fast dinner choice since it was quite obvious my fever was coming back again after not taking Tylenol for 4 hours.

As for CityCenter, my dining companions visited later again and shopped around Crystals but didn't return with anything. It will be a nice high end mall to shop in when everything opens! We all agree on one thing though- it is very modern. Aria doesn't feel exactly welcoming, but the Vdara does a better job. CityCenter isn't complete yet, so hopefully the Harmon and the Veer towers changes our opinion of the property. I never returned to CityCenter so this was it for me.


This trip series posts are listed in order below:
Driving Scenes: CA-Las Vegas, Spring 2010
VIP Lounge at Bellagio Las Vegas and Check In
Bellagio Review 2010: Penthouse Suite on the 35th Floor
Bellagio Review 2010: Tower Deluxe Queen Room on the 35th Floor (Room Connector)
Walkaround: Bellagio, CityCenter (Aria, Jean Philippe Patisserie)- Las Vegas
Noodles (Bellagio)- Las Vegas
Fountains of Bellagio- Las Vegas
Pho Vietnam & Capital Seafood- Las Vegas
Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Spring)/ Check In Area- Las Vegas
Aureole- Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay)
The Buffet (Bellagio)- Las Vegas
Las Vegas Spring 2010 Trip Day 3: Caesars Palace Forum Shops and Driving Scenes: Las Vegas to LA

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Mandarin Noodle Deli- Temple City

New Mandarin Noodle Deli Menu Cover

Do you know about the breaking news yet? As reported on the sidebar, Mandarin Noodle Deli closed on April 4, 2010. (If you didn't already know by the news on Yelp!) The owner wanted to take a break, and open another restaurant in a few months after her break. This was a shock, a unusual feeling for most people and me. This owner has been working her restaurants (used to be Monterey Park, then she moved to Temple City) for over 30 years. For me, it's a childhood restaurant. Without her restaurant available to us as we desired, it felt weird as we had a "hole" now in terms of our options to choose from. We have been eating there for a very, very long time and to see the owner leave was a bit sad. And we forgot to visit on the closing night.

So, what happened with the location? A new restaurant came in. "New Mandarin Noodle Deli." Similar name, you say. But the Chinese name is completely different. And if you can read it, they are a Shan Dong style restaurant.

However, most people came here thinking it would be the same as the old owner. The old carryout business was still busy here, as customers thought it was the old Mandarin Noodle Deli. Serious fans of the old location however came to hopefully find something similar to the old owner. A group of seniors came in, just to check. They noticed all the details; they made sure everything they liked was still good or bad. When more members of the group came in, the existing group would fill them in on the details. Who knew the fans of Mandarin Noodle Deli were this serious? We came, hoping for a good replacement restaurant.

Interior

The outside was the same as before, as they had not yet refurbished that portion yet. However, inside, there was a new splash of paint. The new owner seemed to like a very dark restaurant. Why? I like light! (You know me...) Even the newly installed air conditioner was not turned on. By the end of the meal, we were sweating like it was summer.

Interior

The shelf of materials and writing/calligraphy had been removed as well, now all blank. There were not too many customers during our weekday visit, but there were plenty of take out orders!

Painting

The new owner also put large paintings up to make the restaurant seem not so boring. Even so, the restaurant felt plain compared to its old past.

We sat down, browsed the menu, and made sure to order what we liked about the old Mandarin Noodle Deli. Then, when the waitress came, we asked what was special and asked if the old chefs were still here. What did she say? "Nope, the old chefs are gone. Everything is new, but it's good! Try our Sheng Jian Bao; it is our specialty." So that's what we did.

Simmered Seaweed

We started out with some Simmered Seaweed (2.95 USD), and when it arrived at the table, we were all disappointed. Why? Because it was just wakame seaweed with some ponzu sauce. Quite obvious, as I've made this at home for years after 99 Ranch Market introduced the concept. Unfortunately, this wakame tends to be a bit "fishy" or off tasting and if you don't do much with it, it doesn't taste very good. In addition, the seaweed texture was a mix of crunchy and limp, which was unusual. This dish in general was a bit different from your usual seaweed appetizer. For us, lots of vinegar solved the trick, but the point is that we should not need to alter appetizers like these. Portion size was small but I won't get into that.

Scallion Thick Pan Cake (Green Onion Pancake)

What we all commonly call "green onion pancakes" is called Scallion Thick Pan Cake (3.50 USD) here. Green Onion Pancakes were the signature, "the awesometacular" item of the past management. How was this? In terms of style, this was more like Earthen's version, more pillow-y with less layers. However, it lost the fragrance and the green onion flavors of the old Mandarin Noodle Deli. It itself basically had no green onion flavor. Instead it is now more like bread to go along with your meal. Ahem, it was as bad as my version. Which is pretty bad as I had so little scallions to use! Nothing great to eat by itself, but it worked as a vehicle for something else. But why? The point of calling it a green onion pancake is for the green onions. Old version, please come back.

Beef Stewed Noodle Soup

Another signature item of the old management arrived next: Beef Stewed noodle Soup (6.75 USD).

Beef Stewed Noodle Soup Hand Pull Noodle Detail

You can actually pick between shaved "dao xiao" noodles or hand pulled noodles "shou la mian"). We asked for the hand pulled noodles and they were quite good, chewy with a nice pull. The broth was similar to Dumpling 888 (Yuan Bao, maybe now Jing Bao as there is a new owner. Post coming soon) in El Monte, but more potent in flavor, more rich and spicy. Good stewed meat as well. I don't know why, but I kept comparing this bowl of Niu Rou Mian to Wei Chuan's frozen version. Because it was actually quite similar! Ahem. Plenty of vinegar was added by our dining companion so it shows this isn't the best we've had. I think I'll go back to A&J for NRM now. It's better compared to here, but the noodles are much more interesting here. At least the beef noodle soup here is not bad. But there are better versions! Good job on the noodles though, I have to say. Everything else was standard.

House Decocted Buns (Pan Fried Buns) (Sheng Jian Bao)

The recommendation, the House Decocted Buns (Pan Fried Buns) or "Sheng Jian Bao" (6.95 USD) arrived next. We were going to order their other versions with bamboo and mushroom, but after learning they were canned we chose the original pork version.

House Decocted Buns (Pan Fried Buns) (Sheng Jian Bao) Interior

These were okay, if not the best we have eaten yet. The bottom grilled portion was very flavorful but also a bit thick and too crispy. There was more bread on top rather than the bottom and the meat, although tasty, was given in stingy amounts. Also quite oily, with the bread being regular in terms of moistness. The best Sheng Jian Bao for me is Noodle House in Arcadia, where the bread is puffy, even a bit buttery and rich, and the meat is ultra flavorful. Dipped in a spicy soy sauce, they are made even better. But too bad I don't know where the owner is now for a plate of them! Why is it that the past seems to be better in the present?

Leek Cake (Jiu Cai He Zi)

We ended the meal with a Leek Cake (aka Chive Pie or "Jiu Cai He Zi") (2.95 USD). This was obviously made fresh and then frozen, as the chives were all limp and it tasted like something of a frozen product (a la Dumpling House from last year).

Leek Cake (Jiu Cai He Zi) Interior

There were plenty of vhives, not so much of the egg or glass noodle. A bit of dried shrimp was added for flavor. Served very hot and crisp- pretty much the positive! Otherwise Noodle House in Arcadia is still the best I've had. Fat, tons of great filling, and crispy and chewy bread.

In overall? Too bad. This place doesn't live up to its location anymore. If you are looking for the old location, say bye bye for now. Come here with different expectations. It's been quite sad, since all the new restaurants that have opened up in Arcadia and Temple City over the past months haven't been impressive at all, except for Capital which is now a go to anytime for dim sum! (But still, I can't really, really like it as they use way too many additional weird items like baking soda and food coloring!) And old restaurants like Empress Harbor, Ocean Star, and NBC? They are getting worse and worse to the point of shock. Why can't the traditional places be like how they used to be? As much as we love new style places like Capital, Sea Harbour, and the like, there are people out there looking for food that they loved a few years ago. And this new generation of restaurants is just so much different in quality- many using processed products and additional items like food coloring and MSG when you really don't need them!

To continue on the story about the large group of seniors who just came here to check out if it was like the old location, they would be like this"Yay, this is like it used to be!" but that only popped up once, only for the fried rice. They left kind of feeling sad, but they were happy to be eating in the location!

Time will tell if New Mandarin Noodle Deli is successful. From what it seems right now, the vibe here is just getting worse. Bad reviews on Yelp. And a medicore review from me. My dining companions, if they were writing this, would say it was worse than what I felt, but we all find a way to make our negatives sound like a positive or else people will hate us. But who knows? They might change their recipes with customer responses, even if it is customary to not say anything bad to the owner.

Of course, there will be plenty of people waiting for the old owner to open shop somewhere in the San Gabriel Valley. After more than 30 years, it's hard to see your old favorite dining spot go away. And I will be waiting, waiting for that day to come.


New Mandarin Noodle Deli
9537 Las Tunas Dr.
Temple City, CA 91780
Tel: (626) 309-4318

New Mandarin Noodle Deli in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Capital Seafood Index

Capital Seafood Arcadia Exterior
(Capital Seafood Arcadia Exterior)

Here are all the posts on Capital Seafood:

Capital Seafood Las Vegas

Capital Seafood Arcadia:
Capital Seafood- Arcadia: Dim Sum Visit #1
Capital Seafood- Arcadia: First Impressions

Las Vegas Spring 2010 Trip Index

Here are all the posts on our Las Vegas Spring trip (early April 2010):

Attractions:
Fountains of Bellagio- Las Vegas
Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Spring)/ Check In Area- Las Vegas
Caesars Palace Forum Shops- Las Vegas

Driving:
Driving Scenes: CA-Las Vegas, Spring 2010
Driving Scenes: Las Vegas to LA

Bellagio Las Vegas Review:
VIP Lounge at Bellagio Las Vegas and Check In
Bellagio Review 2010: Penthouse Suite on the 35th Floor
Bellagio Review 2010: Tower Deluxe Queen Room on the 35th Floor (Room Connector)
The Buffet (Bellagio)- Las Vegas

Places on the Strip:
Walkaround: Bellagio, CityCenter (Aria, Jean Philippe Patisserie)- Las Vegas

Food:
Noodles (Bellagio)- Las Vegas
Pho Vietnam- Las Vegas
Capital Seafood- Las Vegas

Aureole- Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay)
The Buffet (Bellagio)- Las Vegas


----------
The trip series posts are listed in order below:
Driving Scenes: CA-Las Vegas, Spring 2010
VIP Lounge at Bellagio Las Vegas and Check In
Bellagio Review 2010: Penthouse Suite on the 35th Floor
Bellagio Review 2010: Tower Deluxe Queen Room on the 35th Floor (Room Connector)
Walkaround: Bellagio, CityCenter (Aria, Jean Philippe Patisserie)- Las Vegas

Monday, April 19, 2010

VIP Lounge at Bellagio Las Vegas and Check In

Bellagio Exterior
(Logo ©MGM MIRAGE)

*Updated 19 April 2010: Thanks to Tripadvisor member t-bonz325 I just found out I was talking about a completely different lounge! Bah. Big mistake. Sorry folks! But the Executive Suite Lounge is almost the same thing, minus the special elevators.

Following the drive to Las Vegas and getting stuck in traffic, we finally arrived at the Bellagio. This post starts out the Bellagio review for Spring 2010 (who knows if we will return...), with posts continuing on the Penthouse Suite, Tower Deluxe Room, Noodles, The Conservatory, Bellagio Fountains, and Public Spaces. Of the entire series, there is still more to come. So hang on there! Too much to write, with so little time.

First off, arriving at Bellagio was simple. There were two entrances: one on Las Vegas Blvd. (aka the Strip), and the second one on Flamingo. The Las Vegas Blvd. one is the one you want to take if you are driving, as the Flamingo entrance only goes to the Port Cochere and the "through traffic" goes on a U-turn to where you came from.

It was almost a time warp as we headed into the parking garage. No high tech numbering system of how many spots were available (available at MGMMirage property Mandalay Bay, Palazzo, and Wynn- they should have it updated here!). Est. 1998 for sure! Even the text felt old to today's standards. Yellowish tones to the plastic and the green made it feel quite old.

After parking, we entered the Bellagio doors, which were heavy and all marked with the signature "B". Unlike the Mandalay Bay, the handicapped entrance was only operable by pressing a button, not by a sensor. Just as we entered, people were taking photos with everything Bellagio. The welcome sign at the parking entrance. The Conservatory. Everywhere!

The parking lot was to the left of the main building. Thus, if you were staying on the main tower, be you would be walking to the center of the hotel every time you arrived at the Bellagio from the parking lot to get to your room.

Entryway to VIP Lounge

What was the exception? A special VIP lounge, for people staying in the high level rooms- from floors 29-36 and the Villas. There were two entryways to it- one being straight ahead from the parking garage entrance. The other one was next to Noodles (I think) in the Casino. Both were unmarked, but the bluish tone of the door signaled its presence.

Interior View VIP Lounge Facing Inside
(Interior- facing the check in area)

Blurry VIP Lounge Interior Facing Conservatory
(Interior- facing the garden area, shaky hands)

Inside, we took a seat while one of us (not me) went to check in. Although I was fully decked out on Tripadvisor gear (plus my camera), I did not go to watch my companion to check in. Besides, last time he checked in without me, we got an extra bedroom for our villa at Pelican Hill (500 dollar bonus)! He is just very nice to the check in agent and never asks for a specific type of room (always works for a better room!). What could we get this time with some luck?

At check in, basically we wanted our rooms with not any suggestions- give us whatever you have, of course. My companion though did ask of the ability to switch to Aria the next day, as we deliberated about the darkness and agreed that for one night, it would be fine. What did the check in agent respond to this?

(paraphrased) "Although we are all under MGM Mirage we can not do the booking for you as we are all separate hotels. We can however keep the rooms for you for the next night for now while you look at the rates for Aria."

and so we agreed, and what else did she say?

(paraphrased) "Take a look around at Bellagio first before you make your decision. :)"

I think she would be really happy at this because this phrase let the Bellagio earn the rest of the accommodations money for the trip. Why? Because this prompted a visit to Aria before booking there. As I'll tell you later on, Aria was dark, especially in the first floor. So dark in the casino, that it affected the state of being from being happy to tired and annoyed (that is, me. I usually am always happy to walk through hotels. Not this one!). None of us wanted to stay there after walking through Aria's casino to find the SkySuites entry so we could ask for the next day's rates and compare to this place I am talking about. Although there were some sky-lit portions, most of the first floor was pitch dark. Ugh. I wished she would see us the day after checking out from the Bellagio so I could see her reaction of us not staying at Aria, but she was not there.

Anyway, getting back on topic, we got our line passes to the Buffet and the Cafe Bellagio, keys to our rooms (which were even listed as VIP), and that was it for check in after some more questions by the check in agent on show and dining reservations! Friendly and done well, and fast too!

Food Counter VIP Lounge

Of course though, we did not leave until we got some of the food and drink available. What was enticing right away? Chocolate covered strawberries. That's right, folks. Unlimited chocolate covered strawberries. Yum!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry and Ham and Cheese Brioche

So this is what I got before I went to our room. Very little, I know, but piling up on tons of food anyway would make me look like a cheapskate! Plus, I was sick and there was not much to choose from as most items were sugary. I took a chocolate strawberry just because I wanted one, and the ham and cheese brioche as I wanted something salty to eat and out of the two choices (ham and cheese or spinach) this seemed more tasty. Both were quite excellent. The chocolate strawberry had a ultra sweet, fat, and red strawberry covered in high quality milk chocolate and "dark chocolate caviar", as I learned at the Jean Philippe Pastisserie later on the day (8 dollars for a tin). Chocolate and strawberry go amazingly well together, if you do not know, and this was definitely that! Kids love it, adults do too. Flashback to the past: my manager at my school cafeteria who moved on to be a chef would make chocolate covered strawberries to sell. Definite favorite with the school for sure! Sold out within minutes. As for the ham and cheese brioche, it reminded me of JJ Bakery or Taipan Bakery's Ham and Cheese Bread. Very similar, with the brioche having multiple layers and a buttery interior. Bits of ham and cheese added more flavor. Yum! Later on, I did try the spinach brioche and it was the same bread but with a moist spinach topping with I think some egg as well for binding.

Side View Food Counter
(Same counter, different view with an employee replenishing food items)

Before we headed off to our room upstairs we also took some hot tea (a very nice selection here as well, from high quality brands) as well as some water. See the metal kettles to the left? Those are filled with coffee and hot water.

And of course, we took some time to relax as well, as the lounge is a perfect place to relax. There is a nice relaxing feeling inside, and the floral arrangements give off an nice fragrance to the lounge.

VIP Services Special Elevator Hall

We left afterwards to the rooms, and there was a special elevator hall for the suites. More pretty, with sitting space. After pressing the button to go up, an elevator was there! How quick!

But this is not the end of the post yet. I have more photos and info :).

3/4 View VIP Lounge

Food Counter Frontal View VIP Lounge

Because, the VIP Lounge's food counter offers more than what you expect. Yes, the main marble counter already has coffee, hot water, tea, honey from France, napkins, white and red wine, and the delicacies. But there's more! See the cabinets? They are there for a reason.

The top cabinets have multiple bottles of liquor (not that I want any as I am not of age yet), which are giant bottles of well. Smart customers went up to make their own cocktails and drink mixes. There are also wine glasses as well, so that you are not stuck drinking wine in a coffee cup, which some guests did so that they could bring their wine to their room.

The bottom cabinets are the drink refrigerator, with juices and beverages. The special part is that the soft drinks are made of glass, not the usual plastic. So enjoy! Take some home. And enjoy some there. Because you can't find them easily at the supermarket. The right of the bottom cabinets house the food for the day, which are covered by napkins. Anything that is accidentally not covered by a napkin is thrown away. An employee threw a cookie away after it had not been covered by a napkin and was off from the tray the cookies were placed in the cabinet.

As for a funny story about the fridge, there was a small girl who couldn't close the fridge. After getting her Coke, she proceeded to close the fridge with her feet, kicking the door in to the fridge (HAHA!). One employee fast walked with a running expression to then close the fridge door. Guess what? The door did not shut. What ended up happening, was that the girl then carefully closed the door with her hands. This time, the fridge door shut. Bellagio, you do know you need to fix the right fridge door on the first set of cabinet doors to the left? Because it only closes on certain circumstances, which most guests don't fit into.

Closeup Nighttime Delicacies VIP Lounge

And if you needed a better close up picture of the food items available, here they are. These items, the chocolate covered strawberries and the brioche, were only available during the late afternoon and the night. The selection of cookies (oatmeal raisin, macadamia/white chocolate, and chocolate), as well as the fruit were available all day.

Lunch Delicacies at VIP Lounge: Ginger and Mango

During the lunch hours, the items were switched to dried mango and dried spicy ginger. All of very high quality, again. Had a few pieces of each and was quite happy. The ginger helped with me being sick, but attempting to make ginger tea did not work as the hot water tasted like coffee. Coffee flavored water with candied ginger is not fun!

For breakfast, a selection of pastries, like croissants and danishes with fillings, were available. But no fruit platter or milk (skim, for coffee and not for breakfast) was available, so if you were looking for a full breakfast selection, you will be disappointed. But for those looking for a quick breakfast on the go, this will suit you well! Get a hot cup of coffee, and some pastries and apples, and leave. How nice.

Another thing about the food: take as much as you want, as the employees never mind you about it! They sometimes helped customers to make drinks, but that was it. Unlike Shangri-La's Horizon Club Lounge, you could get something and go, without any disturbance from the employees. Great for those who want to take some more items just for the room. Like us, and almost every guest staying there. Water, drinks, and food were often taken by guests to be brought to their rooms. Take advantage of it. It's included in your room rate, after all!

Conservatory View from VIP Lounge

To end the post, I just wanted to mention that the VIP Lounge also offers a nice side view of the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. This feature of course attracted lots of people and lots of cameras- if you want less people, you'll have to visit early morning and not lunch or anytime later! Photo enthusiasts were there to take pictures of the Conservatory, and so were many families and people. Some took video. But anyway, of what probably makes the Bellagio so busy compared to the other hotels on the strip, is this Conservatory. A full post on the Conservatory with pictures will come soon. :) The current theme, until May 9, is Spring, which you see in the picture.

Flowers nearby VIP Lounge

And how are these flowers? They are right next to the VIP Lounge. What separates them is the window, which is see through on one side only. The other side, open to the main public, can not easily see inside to the VIP Lounge.

There's more to the VIP that I did not take pictures of. There's a separate bathroom and business services, including Wi-Fi, available. (Hmm...I should have not used the in room internet after all. 15 dollars in room, free in the lounge. I think). You can get more business service info and more info at the Bellagio website; it is practically the same as the Executive Suite Lounge but in a slightly different location and setting.

Next up in the series? Penthouse Suite/ Tower Deluxe rooms reviews and CityCenter.

Just came here? Read the entire trip series by following through this link index. (click)

Bellagio Las Vegas
3600 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Tel: (702) 693-7111


This trip series posts are listed in order below:
Driving Scenes: CA-Las Vegas, Spring 2010
VIP Lounge at Bellagio Las Vegas and Check In
Bellagio Review 2010: Penthouse Suite on the 35th Floor
Bellagio Review 2010: Tower Deluxe Queen Room on the 35th Floor (Room Connector)
Walkaround: Bellagio, CityCenter (Aria, Jean Philippe Patisserie)- Las Vegas
Noodles (Bellagio)- Las Vegas
Fountains of Bellagio- Las Vegas
Pho Vietnam & Capital Seafood- Las Vegas
Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (Spring)/ Check In Area- Las Vegas
Aureole- Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay)
The Buffet (Bellagio)- Las Vegas
Las Vegas Spring 2010 Trip Day 3: Caesars Palace Forum Shops and Driving Scenes: Las Vegas to LA