By my count, there are nine luxury Chinese restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip. These are fine dining palaces with regal décor and cuisine to rival any restaurant here or any place else in the U.S., yet they are mostly ignored by the majority of casino diners.
As the Orange County Register’s Brad A. Johnson pointed out in a wide-ranging and drool-inducing November story, Chinese dining does not exist like this in other American cities. At restaurants like Blossom at Aria, rare delicacies, classic preparations, exquisite settings and graceful service come together to create a uniquely Vegas experience, even if the average Vegas visitor may not notice. There are, of course, many thousands of Asian visitors here, now, celebrating Chinese New Year, and these nine restaurants will be packed.
Blossom belongs near the top of that heap. Located near the similarly overlooked Thai restaurant Lemongrass, it might be the hardest-to-find spot in Aria, but it’s an elegant space with deep red wood accents, black lacquered tables set against sleek booths and brick walls, and fancy corner nooks framed by huge chandeliers and creamy jade walls. Like Wynn’s Wing Lei and Bellagio’s Jasmine, this is a formal destination designed for a particular visitor. Most of us will never order from the premium menu listing shark’s fin, gelatinous bird’s nest soup or braised whole abalone for $300.
The $79 signature tasting menu is a decent way to experience Blossom, including wor wonton soup, crispy fried beef roll, tenderloin with portabello mushrooms in black pepper sauce and crispy sea bass. But you might be better off sharing some elevated versions of familiar dishes, many of which are not as expensive as you’d guess. Peking duck for two ($79) comes in two tableside preparations—steamed buns or lettuce wraps. Takeout faves like beef broccoli ($28), lemon chicken ($26) and chow mein ($18 and up depending on ingredients) are refined and delicious, and simple fried rice dishes are impeccable. Go for the spicy XO lobster fried rice ($32) or the foo-jian style ($24) loaded with seafood, duck and chicken and doused in guilty-pleasure brown gravy. A seemingly pedestrian dish of chicken breast with macadamia nuts ($26) bursts with flavors of garlic and ginger and a lovely crunch from the nuts, chunks of scallion stalks and coins of Chinese broccoli stem.
Seafood is the biggest deal at Blossom, from the goofy-delicious golden medallion appetizer ($14)—the most scrumptious take on crab rangoon you’ll ever taste—to chilled crystal crab that must be ordered a day ahead. The splurge-worthy whole Maine lobster ($120) comes dressed in ginger and scallion sauce, steamed with garlic, fried with garlic and pepper or even sashimi-style. On the more affordable side, there are Manila clams in black bean sauce ($28), spicy Szechuan shrimp ($29) or crispy fried sea bass ($38).
Spectacular desserts await, like crème brûlée with ginger ice cream covered in a chocolate dome and a beautifully sweet raspberry and pistachio cake napoleon. It’s another dimension, maybe an unexpected one, that makes this restaurant special.
To celebrate Chinese New Year, Blossom also is offering a special dim sum lunch menu from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. January 30 through February 8.
Blossom Aria, 590-7111. Daily, 5:30-10:30 p.m.