Fine Dining “Phoenix” Challenges Traditional Asian Dishes

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Fine Dining "Phoenix" at Lucky Dragon Las Vegas Challenging Traditional Asian Dishes haute living las vegas tita carraPhoto Credit: Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino“What do I have to do to get an Uber around here!” It was 5:45 p.m., reception at Phoenix was at 6PM, and the app still had trouble pairing me with someone.


I almost texted a friend who is lead operations and logistics at Uber –my former employer– for help, but because I’ve worked at the tech company I know exactly how it works: I had to request, sit and wait, cancel if I had no luck and try again. Well, third time’s a charm because the Uber was now 10 minutes away. Waiting for me was Phoenix, the contemporary fine dining restaurant at Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino, which was celebrating their new menu with a tasting.

Fine Dining "Phoenix" at Lucky Dragon Las Vegas Challenging Traditional Asian Dishes haute living las vegas tita carraPhoto Credit: Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino

I’m never looking forward to a ride with an Uber driver when I’m dressed up because I’m shy as hell and they’re polite enough to compliment and start a conversation about it. “I shoulda drove,” I thought as I walked down my steep driveway feeling stupid in my coat. It’s nowhere even near winter, hell, fall for that matter in Las Vegas. I just like pretending and dressing like it is until it happens.

There was a decent sized crowd munching through the reception’s appetizers when I finally arrived. One of the servers insisted I’d try the “Yum Yum Basil Crab Cake,” which almost made me make that embarrassing “I think Jesus made this himself because it’s heavenly,” look that I detest making in public. And then, I tasted the “Abalone,” wrapped in a very fresh crunchy cucumber with sesame vinaigrette. I caved. The mollusk, if you’re not familiar, is in fact a luxury item in many Asian cultures. Phoenix serves four other different ways to eat Abalone, but I recommend the cucumber one. Divine…intervention. See what I did there?Fine Dining "Phoenix" at Lucky Dragon Las Vegas Challenging Traditional Asian Dishes haute living las vegas tita carraPhoto Credit: Haute Living

“Did they explain to you what you’re drinking,” Vice President of Operations Blair Dela Cruz asked as I was about to transfer the beverage from the straw to my mouth. “This is the ‘Black Pearl’. It’s a sangria. It has Hennessy, Merlot, fresh lime juice, and…,” don’t know what else she said because I sunk with the “Black Pearl” after my first sip. (Hint, hint. Name of ship in Pirates of the Caribbean plus drink name. No? Okay.) “Woah, that’s strong. Really good though. This’ll knock me right out.”

You know what I just realized? The young woman who greeted me had a “Black Pearl” in her hand, and thereafter two other people who introduced themselves to me also had a “Black Pearl” in their hand. I thought perhaps they were glued to people by this point. “What the fuck are they drinking,” I thought to myself. Looking back, they all felt pretty laid back. Suddenly, it all makes sense now.

Fine Dining "Phoenix" at Lucky Dragon Las Vegas Challenging Traditional Asian Dishes haute living las vegas tita carraPhoto Credit: Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino

A very talented saxophone player lures us into the intimate dining setting of Phoenix with a spectacularly large window and equally spectacular view to match. Can’t be certain if back of the house realizes the pressure, but having to reinvent the chicken wing, though simple and common, is not easy.Fine Dining "Phoenix" at Lucky Dragon Las Vegas Challenging Traditional Asian Dishes haute living las vegas tita carraPhoto Credit: Haute Living

Think about it. There’s only one of two ways this could go: they either trash a classic or up the ante. It’s a bold move for Phoenix to serve this in any case. The “Lemon Zest Chicken Wing” was served in a martini glass with a rosemary stem in between the wing and the “Espresso Rib.” The second aperitif was the “Wok Seared Tenderloin with Mushrooms,” and of the two appetizers, the wing was my favorite both in presentation and taste, and it passes. Do use your hand to eat the wing. A fun, unexpected, and approachable experience for a fine dining setting, but more importantly who cares how you eat it because food is meant to be enjoyed whichever way you feel fit to do so. The critics at the table and I agreed.

You have to understand that to sophisticate traditional dishes is extremely difficult, but the “Kimchi Fried Rice,” was incredible. I could eat that by itself everyday though it comes with pork belly topped with a thoroughly cooked egg and soft yolk—a highly filing and comforting dish. The tender lamb…listen I feel bad for Bambi, but it was really flavorful and easy to cut through. And it didn’t have that weird smell that sometimes comes with lamb.

Fine Dining "Phoenix" at Lucky Dragon Las Vegas Challenging Traditional Asian Dishes haute living las vegas tita carraPhoto Credit: Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino

Then of course came the “Sugar Egg Puff” dessert served with fresh berries and chocolate sauce. Here’s another thing I found out while at Phoenix: we’ve all been drinking tea the wrong way. The hotel and casino has the only tea sommelier in all of Las Vegas, possibly the state. They can steep for up to 45 minutes during a single sitting. Lucky Dragon’s tea experience is one of the most ancient luxuries you’re lucky enough to experience in your lifetime.Fine Dining Phoenix at Lucky Dragon Las Vegas Challenging Traditional Asian Dishes haute living las vegas tita carraPhoto Credit: Haute Living

Complete with six entree dishes; the new added “butcher” section, which allows you to customize your meat of choice with sides and sauces; and house special’s revamped with updates and new additions, the new menu and its chef doesn’t just dare to challenge already perfect traditional Asian dishes, but it now challenges us to choose between our favorite spots and its upscale atmosphere. Unfortunately, I can’t UberEATS this to my house, but if I start calling in for takeout I hope Phoenix is not offended. After all, it is kinda their fault that they’ve won the challenge they presented.

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