Monthly Archives: January 2015

It’s Four More Years of Hilarity at Harrah’s Las Vegas for Comedy-Magician Mac King

Funnyman, magician and all-around good guy Mac King recently had his contract extended at least four more years at Harrah’s Las Vegas.

That means King is set at Harrah’s through 2019, which will mark an incredible 19-year run at the Strip casino.

Mac King Harrah's Las Vegas

Mac King once lopped off the tip of his thumb during a show. A nurse stopped the bleeding and King finished the show before heading to a hospital.

Mac King’s comedy-magic shows continues to be one of the best shows, and best entertainment values, in all of Las Vegas. It also happens to be family-friendly.

Mac King’s signature routines feature goldfish, Fig Newtons and a “cloak of invisibility.”

Mac King

Mac King also seems to enjoy getting tangled up with attractive young audience members. It’s good to be the King.

King devotes a lot of time to charitable efforts, especially children’s literacy.

Mac King’s show is a sure-fire good time and one of the best bets in any Las Vegas casino.

California Noodle House Opens Sans Hoopla, Joins Short List of Great Asian Eateries Downtown

There’s a golden rule when it comes to Asian restaurants: If your chefs speak Cantonese, you’re golden.

That’s the case at the just-opened California Noodle House at downtown’s California casino.

California Noodle House

The California Noodle House is just off the casino, next to the casino’s renovated main cage. See our photo gallery if cages are your thing.

California Noodle House replaces the former Pasta Pirate, and does so with some truly tasty food and signature cocktails.

At the moment, the restaurant’s hours are 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily.

Fair warning: The restaurant’s so new, there’s no information about it on the California Web site, so if we screw any of the following information up, it’s not our fault. If you’re going for “accuracy” or “research,” you might be reading the wrong Las Vegas blog.

California Noodle House

Just enough but not too much. We trust you know what we mean because we certainly don’t.

The decor of this new restaurant is an oasis of warmth and understatement in the sometimes old-fashioned downtown casino dining scene.

The California didn’t cut corners, instead appointing the room with lots of lamps inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns.

California Noodle House

A paper lantern is also known as a “Thai Lover’s Balloon.” Unless Wikipedia is totally screwing with us.

We also appreciated the ceiling decorations inspired by dim sum steamer lids.

California Noodle House

We actually have no idea if they were really inspired by steamer lids, but it sure sounds good, doesn’t it?

The layout of the restaurant is welcoming whether you’re in a group or flying solo. We love to dine alone from time-to-time, and our inset booth made for a feeling of privacy while having a great view of the decor and other diners. People-watching: It’s a thing.

We were immediately served some complimentary “shrimp chips,” accompanied with a spicy sauce that deliciously set the tone for the food to come. Unlike with restaurants that serve bread, which we also love, there was no risk of filling up on chips, as they’re crunchy and satisfying but light.

California Noodle House

Shrimp puffs or prawn crackers are called “nuvole di drago” (dragon clouds) in Italian. Yeah, Wikipedia is totally screwing with us.

It took about three minutes to dive headlong into the signature cocktail menu at California Noodle House.

For some context, understand many of the regular customers at the California are visitors from Hawaii. So, it’s not surprising the California Noodle House features pan-Asian dishes popular with those visitors, and the cocktails have a tropical flair.

We went straight for the One Night in Hawaii ($9) with coconut rum, peach schnapps, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice and sour mix. The no-frills presentation belied its tastiness and resulting buzz.

California Noodle House signature cocktails

We’ll forgo frills for quality, quantity and kick, any time.

California Noodle House also has a healthy selection of martinis ($10-11), beer and sake, the names of which we can’t entirely remember because it’s possible we spent more than just One Night in Hawaii, if you get our drift.

It’s possible there were also some non-alcoholic specialty drinks available, but what would be the point of those, exactly?

It was time for an appetizer, so we went with a classic, lettuce wraps. The lettuce wraps ($8) featured wok-seared chicken, mushrooms, onions, water chestnuts and a spicy black bean sauce. Oh, and also a peanut sauce so good you’ll want to take it directly to a drive-through wedding chapel. Or something.

California Noodle House

Expectation-trampling, among other things.

The menu has a diverse selection, but not a huge number of noodle dishes. Taking up the slack are small bites like Cha Gio Chopsticks (Vietnamese spring rolls) and Firecracker Hot Wings (see below).

California Noodle House wings

We trust these are the Firecracker Wings, known to be the juiciest part of the firecracker.

Also seeing a lot of action were the BBQ spare ribs, dry-rubbed and wok-seared with “volcano barbecue sauce.”

California Noodle House

These, we’re going back for.

There are also salads (the Tuna Tataki, Sashimi Salad and the Noodle house salad), soups (served in awesome bowls, pictured below) and Large Plates including Braised Oxtail Stew, Vietnamese grilled chicken, blackened ahi, Korean short ribs and others.

California Noodle House

It’s like a little fallout shelter for your soup. Or something.

There’s also a Family Style menu, with what foodies would describe as “big-ass portions.” There’s also dessert, but you won’t have room. If you do, try the mochi ice cream and let us know what you think.

If the menu sounds eclectic, it is. (Kung Pao Spaghetti, anyone?) That’s because cuisine in Hawaii tends to be a collection of ethnic foods from a range of Asian cultures, from Japanese to Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese, Filipino and Korean, and everything in between.

The California knows its customers, and from what we could tell, this eatery is already winning them over.

For an entree, we were leaning toward our favorite noodle dish, Pad Thai ($16), but the waitress mentioned it’s spicy (probably should’ve gleaned that from the “spicy sauce” mentioned on the menu), and recommended one of the most popular dishes with customers, the Beef Chow Fun ($14).

Again, outstanding, with stir-fried beef, wide rice noodles, bean sprouts and green onions.

California Noodle House

The main ingredient in Beef Chow Fun is “ho fun” noodles, and trust us, Las Vegas knows a thing or two about “ho fun.” (We’ll be here all week.)

Everyone’s dishes, including our own, seemed to fly out of the kitchen, and with good reason. The California Noodle House has an open kitchen, and watching the chefs at work made it clear they’re serious about their woks.

As we mentioned, several spoke Cantonese, so we get the feeling they know their way around a bamboo wok brush. The kitchen crew seemed to work seamlessly together, and the kitchen was oddly devoid of the chaos typically associated with a new restaurant.

California Noodle House chef

This dude’s not only intense, he’s also invited to all our dinner parties from now on.

Overall, California Noodle House hit all the right notes with its thoughtfully put-together decor, friendly and attentive staff (without being intrusively so), and the values are pure downtown.

One of our favorite downtown restaurants, Le Thai on Fremont East, is going to get some serious competition from this unexpected gem at the California.

California Noodle House

Big fan of this wall in the restaurant’s private dining room, too.

Full disclosure: The California is a member casino of the Fremont Street Experience for whom we do social media, but our opinions are, as always, our own.

Enjoy a few more poorly framed and out-of-focus photos in our exclusive gallery below, and give the California Noodle House a try when you’re in downtown Las Vegas.

California Noodle House Restaurant

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Flippin’ Good Burgers and Shakes Will Replace Uncle Joe’s Pizza, Kabob Korner Downtown

Lots of diehard fans were disappointed when Uncle Joe’s Pizza closed abruptly downtown, followed by its neighbor Kabob Korner. Now, their replacement has been announced, a new burger joint called Flippin’ Good Burgers and Shakes.

Flippin' Good Burgers and Shakes

Hello, future security breach.

Not much is known about the new restaurant yet, but a quick Google search shows a trademark filing awhile back, and our friends at Eater Vegas sleuthed out the fact the restaurant is owned by Resort Gaming Group (don’t get your hopes up, no gambling here), the company owned by developer Andrew Donner, a partner in the Life is Beautiful music festival and longtime collaborator with Tony Hsieh and his Downtown Project.

As we reported when Uncle Joe’s closed, the Downtown Project bought out the leases of both Uncle Joe’s and Kabob Korner and opted to also purchase the kitchen equipment, so it was pretty clear another restaurant would open in this space.

So, burgers and shakes it is.

We’re always up for some quality fast food downtown (since we work mere feet away at the Fremont Street Experience). There’s some serious burger competition downtown, however. Our favorite burgers in all of Las Vegas happen to be at the El Cortez and Binion’s, so Flippin’ Good Burgers and Shakes will have its meat carved out for it. Or something.

Flippin' Good Burgers and Shakes

Burger, fries and custard. Sounds like Shake Shack, but probably a third of the cost. This bodes well.

Thanks to DTLV.com for first spotting the construction under way at the new Flippin’ Good Burgers and Shakes. The redevelopment of downtown continues, and that means more tasty offerings on the horizon.

Journey Announces Residency at Hard Rock Las Vegas

Journey has announced a residency at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas. Which we’re pretty sure we just said in our headline, but perhaps it bears repeating. It’s Journey.

The band will perform at The Joint on Apr. 29, May 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16, 2015.

Journey residency Hard Rock

Journey was formed in 1973, or the same year the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade.

Journey’s initial announcement included a link to purchase tickets which worked about as well as an umbrella made of cotton candy. They got their act together, though, and pre-sale tickets will be available Jan. 14 at 10:00 a.m. Password: JourneyHRLV. Tickets go on sale to the public Jan. 16. A Journey fan club pre-sale begins Jan. 7, 2015.

All shows are at 8:00 p.m. and ticket prices run from $59.50 to $250.

Journey, of course, is the legendary band whose strongest commercial success transpired between 1978 and 1987, a range of years even dyslexics can remember easily.

Journey’s worldwide record sales have topped 90 million.

The band’s current line-up includes Arnel Pineda (lead vocals), Neal Schon (lead guitar), Ross Valory (bass), Jonathan Cain (keyboards) and Deen Castronovo (percussion).

Journey Las Vegas

Filipino singer Arnel Pineda (center) got the gig with Journey after guitarist Neal Schon saw him doing Journey cover songs on YouTube.

For many die-hard fans, Journey isn’t exactly Journey without singer Steve Perry, but the show must go on and the story of how the band got its new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, is a fascinating one.

Here’s Oprah’s take.

The band released an album in 2008 featuring the new singer, Revelation, including a dozen re-recorded greatest hits taped in, wait for it, Las Vegas. Ah, the circularity of the universe.

Progress Report: Checking in On the MGM-AEG Arena

We sure wish MGM and AEG would get a naming sponsor for the new MGM-AEG arena behind New York-New York, because then we’d have something better to call it than “the MGM-AEG arena behind New York-New York.”

The arena, which will be home to a brand spanking new NHL team, likely to be called the Black Knights, is coming along nicely. Thankfully, MGM and AEG were nice enough to build their new arena next to the New York-New York self-parking garage, so there’s easy access for progress report photos.

MGM AEG arena

We can already smell the pricey popcorn and hot dogs, can’t you?

The MGM-AEG arena will seat 20,000 people and is expected to open in the spring of 2016 at a cost of $375 million. Unless they decide to install upgraded cabinet and drawer pulls, then it’ll be closer to $376 million.

Get more information at the official site.

Here’s another look at the entire construction site. Or see our last update to compare and contrast.

MGM-AEG arena Las Vegas

The new arena is on a 16-acre site which will be connected to The Strip with a Linq-like outdoor retail center called “The Park.”

It’s too early to worry about traffic and parking. You’d think. MGM-AEG have apparently thought through some parking options, including at CityCenter, New York-New York, Excalibur and another small lot to the south of the arena.

We look forward to seeing this new arena spring to life over the next year. And not just because we love stadium popcorn and hot dogs. Probably.