You know that feeling you get when something is so beautiful, it just takes your breath away? It may be an inviting vista, or a picture perfect person.
Or, in this case, a restaurant.
This is a restaurant that has it all. Looks, good sense, and great taste. In every sense of the word.
Welcome to China Grill at Mandalay Bay.
Even in the opulence of a casino, this restaurant stands out. The unique lighting gives it a lily pad feel, and the light show that is, essentially, the ceiling, is stunning. But hang on . . . the back of the house of this Asian-inspired bistro is just as beautiful.
The concept behind China Grill is a “shareable” menu—perfect for that date for two, or for a crowd. It gives you the opportunity to sample a wider variety of items, including those from the sushi menu.
“We are all about sharing,” says Manager Leonardo Mariotti. “What’s more fun than to come with your friend?”
What you are sharing is classified as “Asian inspired world cuisine,” made from more than 1,000 ingredients in the China Grill kitchens. Because of its location in one of Las Vegas’ most renowned casinos—and, quite literally, because of its reputation for fine dining—people come from all over to taste the selections that are inspired from, well, all over.
Executive Chef Michael Schmidt is part of the team that carries out owner Jeffrey Chodorow’s vision. “It’s a Marco Polo type exhibition—to go around the world to gather ingredients.” In fact, the menu features these words attributed to the great traveler:
“At the distance of a mile beyond this place, the roads divide; one going in a westerly, and the other in a south-easterly direction, the westerly road through the Provence of Cathay, and the other towards the Provence of Manji.”
It’s enough to conjure up visions of spices and ingredients not yet experienced by most people.
At China Grill, those ingredients then show up in some amazingly beautiful and tasty dishes, including a delectable Crackling Calamari Salad that the chef puts together like a work of art, then tops with a lime miso dressing.
There is a Shanghai Lobster, seasoned with ginger and curry, then served with crispy spinach called “angels wings.” It’s a two and a half pound Maine lobster, selected live, pan roasted, and deglazed with plum wine.
Or Grilled Szechuan Beef, with flavors of sake, soy, spicy shallots and cilantro. There are Lamb Spareribs that are plum and sesame glazed, served with pickled cucumbers. Or Chinese BBQ Braised Beef Short Ribs, served with goat cheese mashed potatoes and a mushroom soy demi-glace.
Whatever else you get, try the half portion of Lobster Pancakes—an unusual concept with a very slight spice to the sauce. The dish features plentiful lobster chunks and mushrooms wrapped in a pancake almost thin enough to be a crepe, and is beautifully served. It’s a fun dish to share.
But then, they all are.
Grilled Garlic Shrimp. Curry Miso Butterfish. Moroccan Lamb Ossobuco with couscous and an Asian dry cherry glaze.
Or, go after any of Chef de Cuisine Wai Phyo Aung’s work. Serving as Sushi Chef he creates an unforgettable Shashimi Sampler that is fresh and decadent, complete with quail egg.
The only danger is in eating it too quickly; it would be a shame to not let the flavors linger in your mouth.
We also recommend the Tuna Poke Salad, which is a combination Hawaiian-Japanese dish, and the Golden Dragon Roll, sprinkled with a bit of gold dust that will make any occasion a celebration.
In fact, Mariotti says that the essence of China Grill is “celebratory.” It’s the place to bring a Valentine’s Day date, the place to connect with friends after a promotion, the place to spend your birthday and anniversary. “The feeling of dining together is enhanced when you share,” says Mariotti. “The half plates have opened up the cuisine so you can enjoy the whole experience.”
The experience extends into the dessert menu, which includes a selection of dessert wines and spirits. We loved the Cheesecake Pot Stickers, with five-spice chocolate and a selection of tropical fruit sauces. And, the Bananas in a Box has a great tableside presentation—it’s bananas, caramelized with cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, then literally boxed and topped with pastry cream. You topple the box over and crack into it. The caramel and fudge sauce give you a great mix of textures and flavors with flair.
It’s the kind of dessert that tops off an over-the-top experience of around-the-world flavors, fabulous presentation, all in an atmosphere of comfortable beauty and welcoming hosts.
If you aren’t in Vegas, you can still check out China Grill in other locations. The first China Grill was in New York; since then, the company has built in Miami, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Mexico City and Las Vegas.
Buck Mathias, Western Region Director of Operations for China Grill, says, “The fun part about it is our owner is a foodie—he loves food.”
He adds, “We spend time on our food, which is exactly where we should be spending it. It has to be about the food. At the end of the day, if the food’s not good, why bother.’
Great Flavor. Global inspiration. A focus on the food. They add up to beauty. A sense of wonder. And, above all, good taste.
China Grill has it all.
Visit China Grill when you are in Las Vegas:
3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89119
This is a Raves & Faves Featured Restaurant.