2015 Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Imperial Peking Duck – Crepes, Scallion, Cucumber, Hoisin Sauce
2015 Alexana Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
Dim Sum Trio – Black Truffle and Scallop, Baked Seafood and Vegetables, Winter Melon with Shrimp and Baby Abalone
2015 Marc Brédif Loire Valley Vouvray
Australian Abalone and Yellow Fungus Soup – Yellow Wood Ear Mushrooms, Live Tank Abalone
2016 Allegrini Veneto Valpolicella
1.5lb Black Pepper Lobster
XO String Beans
Wok-Fried Udon Noodles – Shredded Pork, Vegetables, Black Pepper
2015 Elderton Barossa Valley Golden Semillon
Egg Custard Tarts and Coconut Cream Buns
Golden Melon Milk Pudding
Frozen Citrus Surprise – “Orange” Chocolate Sphere, Vanilla Gelato, Grand Marnier Sponge Cake, Blood Orange Sorbet, Warm Citrus Caramel Sauce
Frequently visiting The Bellagio, a fondness for Le Cirque no secret, it was as a surprise for someone else that Dinner reservations were made at Jasmine on Saturday evening, the longstanding Cantonese fine-dining Restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the fountains proving as enjoyable as in the past with a five course Tasting Menu designed by a new Chef brought in from The Mansion at MGM.
Without doubt one of Las Vegas’s most elegant dining rooms, an almost entirely Chinese clientele and frequent visits by foreign high rollers dictating a menu that showcases both Cantonese classics and luxury ingredients at oftentimes exorbitant prices, it was with greetings from hostesses plus Assistant General Manager Connie Shin that guests were whisked away to a four top in Jasmine’s top-tier, the elevated vantage yielding a clear view of the whole room plus dancing waters.
Preparing to ring in the New Year just 24 hours later, the Fountain’s Brunch briefly resurrected during daytime hours, it was with a personalized menu already in place that a familiar Captain as well as the Sommelier soon stopped by, an atypically busy night nonetheless flowing well save for an unexpected change in coursing plus one glass of Wine poured several minutes after the course for which it was intended.
Focused on the milder flavors of Chinese cuisine with an ingredient-centric kitchen featuring several Live Tanks and daily specials, the season seeing both Lobster and Abalone in the spotlight, it was by special request that course one saw the kitchen send forth one of their famous Imperial Ducks instead of the listed Dim Sum Trio, the pairing with a fruity Pinot Noir proving majestic as Connie informed guests that her Father was actually responsible for the crispy-skinned Fowl’s creation during Bellagio’s earliest days, a total of six Pancakes topped with Meat and accoutrements plated but the second half of the Duck wheeled away never to be seen again.
Backing up to now present listed course number one, a Dim Sum trio specially created for the season impressing by way of Winter Melon centered by Shrimp but largely wasting Black Truffles atop a particularly sweet Scallop, it was with sips of Pinot Gris complimentary to the former as well a bite of what tasted like Vegetable Lasagna that dinner marched forward, course three not exactly attractive but stunning in its subtlety as inch-thick slices of fresh Abalone floated in a broth rich with umami.
Not quite understanding the Soup’s delayed Wine pairing, a citrusy Chenin Blanc pleasant but a bit overwhelming for such a refined dish, it was with most of the glass remaining that a full-bodied Red was added to join Black Pepper Lobster plus String Beans in XO Sauce, the tableside ‘cleaning’ still leaving pieces of Cartilage in the Crustacean while the slick Udon was unexpectedly served in Pork Broth despite being listed under the “Noodles” – as opposed to “Soup” – section of the menu.
Rounding the Beverage program out with a 2015 Late Harvest wine from Australia, the flavor expectedly sweet without being syrupy or cloying, it was at the Chef’s discretion that jiggly Dan Tat were served alongside Coconut Pastries plus a chilled vessel of Melon Sorbet in Milk Pudding, an inquiry about the ‘melting’ Dessert experienced two-years prior fortuitously seeing not the “Floating Island” but a spherical White Chocolate Shell containing creamy Vanilla Gelato plus Sponge Cake and Blood Orange Sorbet that took well to surrounding Brown Sugar Streusel plus Caramel Sauce added via tableside pour.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: Setting aside some small service gaffs easily attributable to an atypically busy evening, though a Restaurant of this caliber and clientele should be able to step up their game under such circumstances, this visit to Jasmine once again showed why the Bellagio continues to rank so highly amongst foreign tourists and how good ingredients matter regardless of what less expensive Restaurants on Spring Mountain Road have to offer.
RECOMMENDED: Australian Abalone and Yellow Fungus Soup, Imperial Peking Duck (usually served with a second Rice course,) Egg Custard Tarts, XO String Beans, Frozen Citrus Surprise.
AVOID: As prior, menu prices are steep and portions are large, so outside the Tasting Menu solo diners and even couples are likely to run up quite a tab without allowing them to taste more than one or two plates.
TIP: With the holidays just past Jasmine is now preparing for the Chinese New Year with dates for the famous Dim Sum brunch soon coming soon.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.