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Best Chinese: Wing Lei, Las Vegas

13 Nov
Alaskan king crab, soft, juicy mango, avocado, aromatic cilantro, chili flakes, and miso-yusu dressing. 

Pan-seared pot stickers with minced pork and sweet Napa cabbage. 

Tender sauteed prawns and crunchy caramelized walnuts in a thick honey cream sauce and garnished with strawberries.
Imperial peking duck, airy steamed buns, crisp cucumber, scallions, and sweet Hoisin plum sauce.

          Rarely do I use the adjective “best” to describe anything, especially when it comes to food. Why? Because I cannot declare something of the highest quality or standard without exposing myself to all that is available. I want to sample every possible option before deciding which one rises above the rest. 
          I live in Los Angeles, the city with the second-largest Chinese population in the country and host to countless Chinese restaurants. I have dined in some of the most acclaimed Chinese restaurants in the world, including London’s Michelen one-star-rated, HakassanThat being said, Wing Lei, located in Las Vegas’s Wynn Hotel, is by far the best Chinese restaurant I have ever been to, for a variety of reasons. 
          Wing Lei offers a refined mix of Cantonese, Shanghai, and Szechwan cooking styles. Each dish wowed me beyond belief, combining several distinct tastes into an incredible final product. My family and I barely conversed throughout the meal and when we did our comments pertained to the food. We savored every bite, “oeeing” and “ahhing”and ultimately arguing over which dish reigned supreme. To cap off the evening: refreshing homemade fruit sorbets and smooth green tea and red bean ice creams accompanied by slightly chewy, petite almond cookies.
          Inspired by early, French-influenced Shanghai, the regal red and gold decor created a warm, inviting ambiance. The waiters remained professional and attentive throughout the meal, though not invasive. In short, I have no criticism of Wing Lei other than I wish the restaurant relocated to Los Angeles.
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Good Eats: Umami Burger

11 Aug

Juicy, angus beef patty, thin, paper-like parmesan crisp, sauteed wild mushrooms, and a watery, char-grilled tomato slice all pressed together within an airy, lightly-toasted brioche bun. That is what the first bite of an Umami burger tastes like. Their signature sandwich harmoniously combines these individually-distinct flavors into a single, heavenly dish. Each burger on Umami’s menu is carefully-assembled, incorporating various unusual tastes to create a brilliant final product. Featured in today’s Los Angeles Times food section, Umami has five locations within Los Angeles, each restaurant with its own original decor and ambience. During our visit, my family and I sampled the Umami, SoCal, and Earth burgers. All three exceeded my expectations. With its trademark beef, crunchy butter lettuce, savory house spread, and sweet, caramelized onions, the SoCal burger ranked highest on my list of menu recommendations. The pleasant, attentive service heightened the experience as each server patiently explained the menu items and enthusiastically answered any questions I had. I highly recommend Umami for its ideal mix of fresh, quality ingredients with new, innovative pairings that will surely leave you craving for more.

Big Sugar Bakeshop for a Big Sweet Tooth

9 Aug
 
Big Sugar Bakeshop’s double coconut and Belgian chocolate cupcakes.

Moist red velvet cake topped with vanilla buttercream.

Located in Studio City, California, Big Sugar Bakeshop presents a wide array of decadent baked goods. Though all their sweet treats are equally irresistible, I especially love Big Sugar’s hand-crafted cupcakes. Everyday, the bakeshop offers seven unchanging cupcake flavors in addition to five daily specials. With its airy dough and rich cream cheese frosting covered in confetti-like shavings of tender coconut, double coconut remains my favorite cupcake flavor. Having visited several bakeries throughout Los Angeles, I strongly recommend Big Sugar for its high level of products and customer service. No matter what item you choose to indulge in, I can guarantee that you will enjoy every last bite.

Sweets for the Soul

30 Jun
A trio of brownies courtesy of Sweets for the Soul bakeshop in Atwater Village. From nearest to farthest: the Billionaire’s Bliss brownie, the Obama brownie, and the Espresso brownie.
Buttery shortbread and homemade caramel topped with dark guittard chocolate and fluer de seul.
Fragrant ground espresso infused in a cocoa base with valrhona dark chocolate chips. 

Rated by the Los Angeles Magazine as the best brownies in Los Angeles, Sweets for the Soul bakery offers a delicious assortment of hand-crafted treats. Deciding which item to indulge in provides a considerable feat for any dessert-lover as each maintains the perfect balance of flavors. This heavenly bakeshop is a must for Los Angeles natives and tourists alike; I can assure that you will return for seconds.