Sliced Chilled Abalone with Sake, Seasoned Salt, Aged Soy
Crab Meat Dumplings with Saffron Skin and Cilantro, Spinach Dumplings with Vegetables, Kimchi Dumplings
Deep Fried Shrimp Mousse Ball with Goose Liver Mousse
Xiao Long Bao with Pork and Soup
Chilled Hand Pulled Noodles with Shrimp, Chili Oil, Carrot, Cucumber
Crispy Rice topped with Honey Soy Glazed Dried Oyster
Traditional Beijing Roasted Duck – Pancakes, Sugar, Hoisin, Cucumbers, Scallions, Cantaloupe, Ginger
Beijing Style Spicy Roast Duck Rack
Steamed Coral Cod with Black Mushroom, Tofu and Pork Belly
Garlic Stir-Fried Japanese F1 Wagyu Beef with Minced Garlic, Salt, Pepper, Garlic Chips
Japanese F1 Beef Fried Rice with Wild Mushrooms and Black Truffle Paste
Cabbage with Bamboo Shoot, Diced Mushroom, Oyster Sauce
Fried Glutinous Rice with Chinese Sausage and Dried Shrimp
Salt and Pepper Pork Loin with Garlic and Thai Chili Pepper
Vanilla Custard Steam Cake
Nian Gao Coconut Sticky Rice Cake
Walnut Soup with Sesame Dumplings
Espresso with Ice
When China Tang replaced Pearl at MGM Grand Hotel and Casino it is probable that most Westerners barely noticed, the Lai Sun Group out of Hong Kong not as well-known or heavily marketed as Hakkasan or Mott32 but the Restaurant nonetheless exceedingly popular overseas thanks to their focus on Cuisine popular during the Tang Dynasty.
Located in The District across from Emeril’s Fish House, the Lounge up front likely dissuading some as hotel guests loudly pass by, it is immediately behind the Bar that more refined environs are located, the combination of slate tables and comfortable chairs spread across an airy space decorated in art while a young woman sings traditional songs from a stage to the right.
Undoubtedly an expensive build-out, Private Dining Rooms featuring ancient porcelain and Executive Chef Larry Ng’s kitchen in possession of live tanks plus an $80,000 Duck oven and space dedicated specifically to Dim Sum, it is from a menu spanning several pages that diners are asked to make decisions, the famous Beijing Duck strongly suggested as a request during booking though there is a chance one might get lucky and find it available without reservations depending on date and time.
Classy but accessible, the wait staff perfectly mannered, courteous and happy to offer suggestions, it was alongside hot Tea that dinner was served, a first bite of snappy Abalone seeing the Mollusk’s sweetness highlighted by Sake and a pinch of what tasted like Ginger plus Soy that had been used to tenderize the Meat.
Told stories of the Dim Sum Chefs while waiting, an entire brigade of Men and Women tasked with just these items, it was a quintet of Dumplings from both dinner and Chinese New Year menus that soon arrived, the XLB without doubt Sin City’s best in terms of both Skin and Soup while shredded Crab inside a Saffron Wrapper was delicate and fragrant in contrast to Fried Shrimp and Foie Gras that was expectedly decadent with lingering richness worth every cent.
Not a place for shortcuts, all Noodles hand-pulled including a bowl topped in fresh Shrimp and Chili Oil, it was with tongue tingling that another traditional plate was offered, three sun dried Oysters finding salinity concentrated but existing in harmony with a light Honey glaze and puffed Rice that sticks ever so lightly offering textural variance.
To this point having not seen a Duck, though several would roll out over the next three hours, it was after presenting the imported Bird that careful knife strokes were made tableside, Skin presented first and advised with Sugar that saw each shard shatter like glass while meatier cuts served next were placed on Pancakes not quite as thin as Mott32’s, but not too far off either, plus condiments including Hoisin, Cucumbers and Cantaloupe.
Returning the carcass to the kitchen, a Bone-in second service arriving later with lots of spice, guests looking for Fish rarely seen in Nevada will be delighted to know China Tang offers Grouper and Goby in addition to choice Seafood like Crab and Lobster, but on this particular night the real prize was a sizable Coral Cod with butter-soft Flesh prepared in the steamer and served with Black Fungus, bits of Pork Belly and Tofu that took on the flavor of all three plus a delicate Gravy.
Not yet done seducing diners, tender Pork Loin wok-seared like Salt and Pepper Shrimp just one of many healthy choices in addition to bundles of steamed Cabbage packed with umami, it was in traditional fashion that savories culminated with Meat and Rice, Las Vegas’ only source for F1 Wagyu doubling down with tender cubes fried alongside Garlic plus more with Rice and added luxury in the form of Mushrooms and fragrant Truffle Paste.
At this point well sated, though a bowl of Sticky Rice fried to a previously unseen texture continued to temp until the last few spoonfuls were gone, it was with traditional Desserts that dinner culminated, the steamed Sponge Cake so light it essentially dissolved on the tongue while New Year’s Rice Cake and Walnut Soup were less photogenic stunners, the latter in particular as tiny Dumplings hidden by the creamy Potage burst to the tooth yielding a flood of lightly sweetened Sesame Seed Puree.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Sparring no expense to impress guests interested in an experience rarely seen outside the Eastern Hemisphere China Tang is every bit as “fine dining” as Nomad or Michael Mina in terms of service and ingredients, their only challenge being convincing Las Vegas locals and American tourists that “Ethnic Food” warrants equal cost and stature, which in the case of everything but the Restaurant’s front section China Tang does beautifully.
RECOMMENDED: Sliced Chilled Abalone, Crab Meat Dumplings, Deep Fried Shrimp Mousse Ball, Xiao Long Bao, Honey Soy Glazed Dried Oyster, Traditional Beijing Roasted Duck, Garlic Stir-Fried Japanese F1 Wagyu Beef, Fried Glutinous Rice, Walnut Soup.
AVOID: N/A, but bring a group for the large format Fishes as many are charged by weight, including the Coral Cod at $288.88 for 2.5lbs.
TIP: Some items above are only available from February 3 through February 10 in celebration of the Chinese New Year. See pictures for full menu and prices as the website is lacks both.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.