July 22, 1999
Inside Mandalay Bay
I like everything about the China Grill except the food. You can't beat the ultra-hip entryway and the greeting everyone receives at the end of the small glass bridge is always friendly and accommodating. That same great service also extends to the bar and restaurant. The atmosphere and décor are both relaxing and stunning. Not exactly an easy trick to pull off. Cushy low-lying sofas and mega-cool lighting and paddle fans make the bar at the China Grill one of the most sophisticated places in all of Las Vegas to get a drink. And what drinks they are; tall fruity and perfect renditions of the recipes that made cocktails famous. So good are such classics as the Mai Tai and Singapore Sling here, that even my two best friends, who take their manliness to the ninth degree, you know things like swearing a lot, spitting and killing things, you get the picture. . .ok, I'm joking but these two icons of masculinity were recently seen sucking down girly-man drinks at the China Grill bar like a couple of college girls on spring break.
So there's a lot to like about the place even if you're not hungry. But if you are, expect some rather bizarre creations that push the fusion food envelope. I'm talking about sickeningly sweet lamb spare ribs, lobster risotto with ginger, and steak served with kimchi and orange maple dressing--all of which prove that, in a kitchen at least, too much creativity is not necessarily a good thing. Stick with the more traditional fare like duck pancakes or a sizzling whole fish for more satisfaction and less palette confusion. And when you're finished, check out the Zen experience awaiting you in the modular toilettes. . .they are positively refreshing, which is exactly what they're supposed to be. Too bad I can't say the same about the food.
This is John Curtas.
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