This is the eighth and final post in the series titled An Exploration of Asian Food in Vegas. Other posts in this series include Red Rock Casino and Resort, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar and Grill, Exploring Downtown Las Vegas, Mr. Chow, Lotus of Siam, and Tao Asian Bistro.
There are very, very few places in the United States where one can truly experience authentic, ultra high end Chinese dining. A vast majority of American associate Chinese cuisine with styrofoam take-out containers, egg rolls, and fortune cookies. Those who get to enjoy authentic food typically see Cantonese dim sum, prevalent in Chinatowns across America.
More recently, we've seen an explosion of Chinese food. At least here in Boston, we've had opportunities to enjoy Sichuan, Taiwanese, Xi'an, and even Dong Bei, or Northeastern cuisine. The Chinese food here is definitely getting more diverse.
However, it's almost always still pretty inexpensive.
Las Vegas is unique in that it receives A LOT of visitors from China every year. The Strip has responded by catering to these visitors. The Chinese New Year celebration seems to get bigger every year. Tons of Asian restaurants, including several very high end Chinese restaurants have sprung up. These places offer exotic Chinese delicacies that you typically don't see, such as shark fin, bird's nest, and abalone.
We had a chance to visit Blossom, a very refined and elegant high-end Chinese restaurant located at Aria. Executive chef Chi Kwun Choi, who has been at the restaurant since 2009, is from Hong Kong and draws inspiration from food trends in both Hong Kong and Beijing.
I must say, I was very, very impressed. I don't think I had ever had Chinese food at this level before, at least not until my visit to a 2-Michelin starred restaurant during my trip to Hong Kong this past year. Here's a look at some of the dishes we enjoyed!
We started with a series of amuse bouches that included soy-braised peanuts, pickled wood ear fungus, and sweet pickled green papaya. These were served with two different hot sauces.
I loved the next course, a deeply flavorful traditional Chinese Root and Herb Soup, a special that they don't make every day. The broth is pork bone-based but has a ton of other flavors from a variety of Chinese medicinal herbs and roots.
If you were hungry, you could eat these Chinese herbs and roots as well as the pork bone and meat. However, these solid elements were mostly devoid of flavor, since the broth had stripped all the flavors into the fragrant broth.
Next we tried a delicious snack, Braised Duck Wings. Apparently high rollers like to snack on these while drinking their maotou, a type of Chinese heavy liquor. Bryan had never had it but really loved it. I ate this stuff growing up. Though typically a very casual type of snack, this elevated version has the tips cut off, making it easier to eat.
These were delicious, and make a great appetizer or snack.
We also tried Tempura-Fried Ice Fish, cooked salt-and-pepper style and served on top of shredded daikon. This was excellent - crispy, light, and perfectly seasoned. It went well with the wine pairing.
The Seafood section of the menu is massive. It includes every sort of decadent seafood you could imagine, like multiples types of crabs (King, Dungeness, Australian, Crystal), clams, shrimp, and all sorts of fish, prepared crispy-fried, pan-fried, steamed, or even live.
We tried the Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, which you could have prepared by your choice of method: steamed, soy sauce, salt and pepper, or steamed with garlic. Ours were butterflied, steamed with garlic, and topped with cilantro.
These were sweet, tender, and all in all very tasty. They even gave us different tools for cleaning our hands afterwards.
We also enjoyed the Steamed Goby Fish, a fish that is native to Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia. These were farm raised in California and were steamed with ginger & scallions according to a classic Chinese preparation. The dish was excellent. The fish was very tender and the flavors were spot on.
The menu includes an equally impressive sized meat section which includes a mix of authentic Chinese dishes and Americanized favorites (hello Beef Broccoli and Kung Pao Chicken!).
One of their signature dishes is the Spicy Wok Fried Scallion Veal Cheek which consists of veal cheeks wok-fried with jalapeños, cilantro, and green bell peppers. The meat was super tender. The flavors in the dish were intense and packed a lot of heat. I found the dish borderline too salty on its own, but delicious with rice. This dish was paired with a Pinot Noir.
The restaurant offers a whole Peking Duck that comes with your choice of steamed buns or wrappers. This is a very traditional preparation. We didn't actually try this, but the table next to us got one, so I was able to snatch a photo. It looks beautiful, and I am guessing it's very, very good.
Chinese cuisine is known for having great vegetables, and this menu offers many classic Chinese vegetables such as Napa cabbage, Choy Sum, Chinese broccoli, mustard greens, pea shoots, ong choy, and string beans. There are also several tofu and mushroom dishes.
We tried something that's a bit more unusual (though I cook this all the time at home) - Stir Fried Romain Lettuce Hot Pot. Cooked table side, this simple but refreshing dish was a nice end to a decadent but delicious meal.
Dessert was a simple but tasty mango soup.
Wine pairing is an option, and we relied on the sommelier to find wines that would pair with our food. Pictured above are some of the wines that we enjoyed with this meal.
GENERAL THOUGHTS OF BLOSSOM ARIA
All in all I was very impressed with Blossom. It's a very sophisticated restaurant that offers a lot of authentic and well-prepared dishes. The dining space is beautiful, the service is good, and the food is top notch. It's hard to find places like this in the U.S., so it's a treat to be able to actually enjoy high-end Chinese food without having to travel to Asia.
There are many supposedly off-menu items that you can ask the servers to describe to you. One well-known off-menu dish is Shui Zhu Yu, or Spicy Water Fish Hot Pot (made with Chilean Sea Bass), a Sichuan specialty that is supposedly so spicy that you have to agree in advance not to send it back if it's too spicy (!).
If you're not sure what to order, there is always the $79 tasting menu ($39 wine pairing) that allows you to sample your way through a bunch of dishes.
I would highly recommend coming here.
3730 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5:30PM to 10:30PM
This trip (food, lodging, transportation) was sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. I was not paid to write this post or any other post in this series. All opinions are my own.