Hello, Viva Mooo in Henderson, Nevada

While I had some extra free time because of the holidays, I met up with a lot of friends. One of our visits together was to Viva Mooo in Henderson of the Las Vegas Valley.

This spot was formerly known as one of the two locations of Kang’s Kitchen Korean BBQ (or 강식당), with the other one being at the Rio Hotel & Ca­si­no. I wasn’t able to confirm this for sure, but due to the abundance of Kang’s branding still in the restaurant, as well as the new owner out on the din­ing floor interacting with customers, I am guessing that the restaurant was recently sold to new management.

We ordered the premium all-you-can-eat dinner. While our raw meats were being brought out, we ordered some pre-cooked Korean fried chicken to keep our mouths occupied.

Usually, at all-you-can-eat spots, they’ll bring out the meats very slowly in hopes that you’ll get full during the wait time. Because of this, there is a cer­tain strategy you have to employ where you have to leave meats permanently in the queue and put in replacement orders prior to the previous round ful­ly being served. It gets annoying, but it is the reality of AYCE business practices.

Something I loved about Viva Mooo is that they were not at all like other AYCE restaurants. All our orders came out quickly, suddenly, and all at once. We ordered beef brisket, ribeye, seasoned rib, beef tongue, and seasoned short rib; not long after, our table was drowning in raw meat. It’s possible that this was because the restaurant didn’t look too busy while we were there, but it was definitely a refreshing experience.

The portion sizes at Viva Mooo were also very satisfying—the cuts were much larger and thicker than what you’d expect from an AYCE restaurant.

I completely understand why other AYCE restaurants do what they do—not everyone goes to restaurants like this often and not everyone knows what they’re doing, so there are probably a lot of wasted leftovers of diners accidentally ordering too much or ordering something they don’t like and not fin­ish­ing it. Regardless, it is still a much better ex­pe­ri­ence when you chew down on the meat and there is actually something there, rather than just fall­ing apart as stringy strips because the cut was way too thin.

Last was the “grand finale” and the signature dish of the restaurant—the “B3ST Burger.” The owner of the restaurant, who is named Victor if I remember correctly, came over to chat with us during our meal. He let us know that he was hoping to get a Michelin star on this burger, and he shared his story of his past restaurant experiences and how he got to this point with this particular burger dish.

The presentation, as you can clearly see from the photograph below, was an absolute disaster. I don’t know if it just suffered from a casual magnitude-7 earthquake while being carried from the kitchen to our table, but the burger skewer was inserted sideways for goodness’ sake. The lettuce was not shaped or rounded, and the vegetables inside the burger were all over the place. Half the top bun apparently couldn’t get through to the suicide hotline and is about to jump off the edge.

Flavor-wise, the first bite was orgasmic. It had a stronger explosion of flavor than almost any burger I had ever tasted. The sauce was also one-of-a-kind, and something I had never seen on a burger before. It almost tasted like a mixture of jam and sauce—sweeter and tangier than usual, but not fully to the level of pure jam.

The next few bites were very good. I think it could’ve used some more vegetables, and the bun wasn’t special whatsoever, but the meat shone through. I finished half the burger and it was amazing.

Then came the second half. The more I ate, the more my perception of the taste declined. The flavor went from “extremely savory” to “good but a little too rich” to “too heavy.” I went back to hoping that the burger had more vegetables, and I wondered how many weeks’ worth of saturated fat I was con­suming in this single burger. I noticed a thin layer of fattiness coating the entire inside of my mouth. I rotated my tongue around my mouth in hopes that it would scrape off some of that new lining of fat on my inner cheeks, but it didn’t help.

There is a reason extremely fatty cuts of meat are served in moderation—they are great at first, but eating too much at once makes many people’s stom­achs uncomfortable. Most burgers use ground meats ranging from 90-95% lean and 5-10% fat, often called ground sirloin, all the way to 70% lean and 30% fat, the highest ratio of fat content permissible under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 9, §319.15. I’ve heard many chefs call 80% lean and 20% fat to be the “magic ratio.”

Because the B3ST Burger is a custom-designed and -made dish at a restaurant that isn’t just pre-packaged ground beef for sale, the aforementioned law does not apply. However, I think restaurants should still use this as a guideline, otherwise the meat will probably be way too fatty, and I suspect that the fat content of this burger at Viva Mooo might have actually been greater than 30%.

Serving something like this will probably have good results for the first few bites as diners get shocked by the unexpected burst of flavor, but it’s not some­thing sustainable throughout an entire burger. People who have more acute taste buds will notice this as an “easy way out” method to make your dish seem better, and I can’t imagine that this burger is close to earning a Michelin star any time soon.

To be clear, I still liked the burger. But, if you go to this restaurant and want to try it out, I recommend only ordering one and sharing it with someone else, at least until the owner makes some adjustments to the formula.

There was also something called a K-Burger Steak on the menu; I ordered this just to try it out, and I think it was basically the same beef patty as the B3ST Burger, but without the sauce and bread. I managed to get through about half of it, simply for the sake of not wasting food, before I was about to feel sick from the fattiness and had to stop.

For dessert, we received a cup of rice punch, called 식혜 in Korean. I’d say this was pretty average taste-wise, but the ice wasn’t blended well, so the bev­er­age wasn’t as smooth and refreshing as it could have been.

In total, I paid $56.72 for my portion of the meal, with $44.88 being the dinner AYCE base price and the rest going towards tax and gratuity. It’s pricier than other AYCE Korean BBQ restaurants, but I think the cost premium is definitely worth it considering the quality of the meats and service.




Hello, Fontainebleau Las Vegas in Winchester, Nevada

On December 13, 2023, one week after the grand opening of the Durango Casino & Resort in the Las Vegas suburbs, another luxury hotel opened—the Fontainebleau Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip, formally in the unincorporated town of Winchester in Clark County, Nevada.

I actually was in town for the grand opening of the Fontainebleau, but I chose not to attend on opening day because I didn’t want to deal with the chaos on the Strip. However, a week and a half later around Christmastime, I stopped by to check it out.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas has quite the history. When I used to live in a residential high-rise condo on the Las Vegas Strip, I was on the north end of the Strip, very close to the Fontainebleau. The Fontainebleau broke ground in 2007 and was topped off in 2008. No, that is not a typo—this building was erected over 15 years ago. Since then, because of financial troubles, the building remained a closed and incomplete eyesore on the Strip with broken win­dows and exposed foundation. It also caused a bit of unrest with the Turnberry Place high-rise luxury condominiums next door, as the gargantuan height of the parking garage blocked the view of residents on the lower floors at the Turnberry.

In 2018, it was announced that the building, which was called The Drew at the time, would partner with Marriott. Being a loyal user of Marriott’s hotels and as an Ambassador Elite member in their loyalty program, I was excited that Marriott would expand their presence on the Las Vegas Strip. Un­for­tu­nately, Marriott decided to withdraw from the partnership three years later, and Fontainebleau decided to self-operate.

Now, finally, construction is complete and the hotel is open to the public. About a week and a half ago, I decided to visit and walk around.

As I completed my tourist session and looped back out into the parking structure, I peeked out and snapped a photo of the building where I used to live a few years ago, about 400 feet up in the air.

The food court was interesting. I had already eaten just a couple hours prior so I didn’t get anything, but it was visually nice—it was basically like a large food court in a shopping mall, but much more upscale and luxurious. If I ever live on the northern end of the Strip again, within walking distance of the Fontainebleau, it actually wouldn’t be a bad place to head over for a quick lunch once in a while.

The decor is posh and makes you feel like you are a business professional or an otherwise classy person, as opposed to a degenerate gambler about to lose their life savings. It is fairly apparent that the hotel is catered specifically towards convention attendees, not only because of the vibe, but also be­cause of its obvious location across the street from the Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall.

There weren’t too many people around when I visited, but I imagine things will pick up massively once conventions start ramping up. The hotels on Par­a­dise Road are still going to be more convenient for conventions taking place in the North and South Halls, but it looks like Fontainebleau might end up becoming the go-to option for the West Hall for those who might have a more flexible budget.

The thing I’m looking forward to the most at the Fontainebleau is ITO, a sushi restaurant on one of the upper floors. Reservations aren’t open yet, but they’ll be offering a twelve-seat omakase experience soon, so I’ll definitely be stopping by once it becomes available.




Hello, Yu-Or-Mi Sushi and the Durango Casino & Resort in Spring Valley, Las Vegas, Nevada

As a Las Vegas local, it’s always exciting to see new things open up in town. December 5, 2023 was the grand opening of the Durango Casino & Resort, a new hotel, casino, and resort in the Rhodes Ranch community in Spring Valley of the Las Vegas Valley in Nevada. Although I wasn’t in town to attend the grand opening, I managed to find some time a few weeks afterwards around Christmastime to check it out.

After parking in the structure and making my way into the building, I started my journey at Yu-Or-Mi Sushi to grab some food before exploring.

For my entrée, I ordered a chirashi bowl. If you’re not familiar, chirashizushi means “scattered sushi,” which, in practice, translates to strips of sashimi over a bowl of rice. A poke bowl is similar, but the sashimi strips are cut up into smaller cubes. Although poke bowls are technically eligible to be called chirashi bowls by definition, no reasonable restaurant would ever serve a poke bowl and call it a chirashi bowl, because they are just going to disappoint sushi enthusiasts.

Yu-Or-Mi clearly failed here. Not only did they serve a poke bowl in lieu of a real chirashi bowl, but the amount of fish included was so little that it couldn’t have been more than a few strips’ worth (while real chirashi bowls usually contain ten or more decently-sized slices of assorted raw fish). They filled the rest of the volume with pineapple and avocado, and even then, that mixture was only enough to just barely cover, with a thin layer, an astronomical amount of rice.

I can confidently say that this was the absolute worst chirashi bowl I have ever had in my entire life.

My friend got vegetable gyoza with truffle soy sauce and chives.

I like eating meat, and I especially like eating fish. Sushi is my favorite food. I tried one piece of this, and I liked these vegan dumplings better than the chirashi bowl. That should be an indication of how bad the chirashi bowl was.

My friend’s mom got a vegetable tempura roll with asparagus tempura, sweet potato tempura, avocado, and crispy shallots.

At least the menu was fancy, I guess.

After finishing my underwhelming meal, I walked around the resort to explore what else it had to offer.

There was a nice flower arrangement and some Christmas decorations near the entrance (because, as a reminder, I stopped by around Christmastime just over a week ago).

Down the hall, there was a lounge and bar.

Through this lounge, there was access to the outdoor pool area. It was closed to the public at the time, but they said it would reopen soon.

Around the casino area, there was a huge sports viewing area.

There was also an outdoors area called the George Sportsmen’s Lounge.

The George had its own entrance separate from the main casino; I left through that exit and looped back around to the front entrance of the resort.

Here is the view from the parking garage of the western suburbs.

Overall, I thought the Durango was nice, but not particularly special or iconic. I walked through the casino area and noticed that it already has a very unsettling lingering odor of cigarette smoke, which I think heavily detracts from the perceived quality of the resort.

I think the thing that makes the Durango stand out is the fact that it’s out in the suburbs, so it’s much easier for locals to stop by without having to deal with the chaos of the Las Vegas Strip. It also has plenty of free parking—there is a huge lot by the front entrance, and there is a large structure that connects to the northwestern corner of the building.

I don’t actually remember what the name of the lounge near the pool is, and I can’t seem to find it on Google Maps. However, it was nice enough that I would consider stopping by there with my laptop on days when I want to get out of my condo to get some fresh air and have a change of scenery while getting some work done. I assume it would get busy on the weekends, but it seems like a spot that’s preferable over a coffee shop because of how much of a luxurious vibe it gives off.

I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to spend living out in the suburbs, because I am considering the possibility of moving back into a residential high-rise on the Las Vegas Strip like where I used to live a few years ago, but because of its close proximity to the beltway, the Durango is quickly accessible and might still be worth it as a coffee shop substitute, even with the bit of an extra drive.




End-of-2023 investment portfolio breakdown

Disclaimer: I am not a registered investment advisor. The information found in this blog post is in­tended to be strictly anecdotal and should not be con­strued as financial advice. Everyone’s situation is uniquely different, so if you are seeking guid­ance, consult a licensed and certified professional for per­son­al­ized assistance.

During 2021 and 2022, I used to write investment portfolio breakdowns almost quarterly to share where and how my liquid assets were allocated. After publishing a bunch of them, I realized that there aren’t frequent-enough changes to make them worth doing so often, so I stopped throughout a bulk of 2023. However, now that we’ve dinged a new year, I figured it would be worth putting together another up-to-date and comprehensive report for my new­er readers.


If you’ve at all been keeping up with the state of the current financial climate, you know that interest rates in the United States are very high right now. Although I am a strong proponent of time in the market being better than timing the market, I haven’t been heeding my own advice and have instead been holding onto more cash than usual.

Of course, considering that it is the end of a calendar year and tax-advantaged account limitations reset on January 1, a large portion of my cash is already “accounted for” in its purpose. I have $7k ready to go for my personal IRA, more than $25k for my SEP-IRA, and just over $4k for my HSA—all of this is just sitting there as cash waiting for markets to open on January 2, 2024 after the holiday.

However, beyond the above, I am still holding even more cash on top of that just for the sake of farming reliable returns on my deposits. I think the economy is actually doing worse than it may appear on the surface, so instead of immediately dollar-cost av­er­aging and dumping all my money directly into investments, I am balancing it out and keeping decently large chunks of cash in sav­ings and money market accounts.

My primary sav­ings account is with Discover Bank, which has an interest rate of 4.35% as of today—this is what I use for incoming ACH transfers and depositing checks. Excluding my emergency fund of three months’ worth of expenses, I keep the rest on Van­guard in my core position, the Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund (VMFXX), currently with a 5.32% yield. Considering that my primary brokerage for investments is also Vanguard, having this money in VMFXX means I always have plenty of available balance to make short-notice trades, if needed. And finally, I have a less-frequently-utilized variant of this on Fidelity as well, the Fidelity Gov­ern­ment Money Market Fund (SPAXX), currently with a 5.01% yield.


Domestic broad market index funds

I’m sure this is not surprising to anyone—the largest category in my portfolio is taken up by broad market index funds. Most of this is in Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTSAX), with Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index Fund Admiral Shares (VHYAX) coming in at second.

When asked, I often talk about all the strange and interesting investment opportunities I’ve found, but it is very important to un­der­stand that those weird investments make up an exceedingly small percentage of my portfolio, and a bulk of it is in “boring” mutual funds. I purchased more shares of VHYAX during the pandemic when the stock market was volatile and I wanted some more sta­bil­i­ty, but my go-to investment is VTSAX.

As for the investments I hold in my Fidelity account, like my Health Savings Account or my Fidelity Charitable account, I will keep those funds in the Fidelity ZERO® Total Market Index Fund (FZROX).


International total mar­ket index funds

This is the category that has probably seen the biggest change in the past year. I do want to stay invested in the international stock market because I want exposure outside the United States to diversify my portfolio, but this segment is currently in a bit of a work-in-progress state.

I used to have a decent chunk of money invested in Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTIAX), but over the past year and a half, I ended up selling all of it for tax loss harvesting purposes.

After waiting out the wash sale period, I re-entered the international market by means of the Fidelity ZERO® International Index Fund (FZILX). If you compare my percentage here relative to some previous portfolio breakdowns, you’ll see that I didn’t buy back in as heavily as I used to own, but I’m going to continue working my way up here over time in this fund.


Target date funds

The money I have invested in my tax-advantaged retirement accounts is all in target date funds. The reason I separate this out as its own line item in my breakdown is because target date funds automatically reallocate their composition to be riskier when further a­way from the target date and safer when approaching the target date. Thus, due to how time-consuming it would be to go in and man­u­al­ly calculate this for my breakdowns, I decided years ago to just give them their own category.

I used to put most of my retirement money into the Vanguard Target Retirement 2060 Fund (VTTSX) but later started splitting it half-and-half with the Vanguard Target Retirement 2055 Fund (VFFVX) as well.

Recently, after realizing that I am doing much better financially now than I had ever imagined I would be when I was in my younger 20s, and foreseeing a sooner and sooner retirement, I kept my VTTSX and VFFVX as-is but have put everything new into the Van­guard Target Retirement 2050 Fund (VFIFX) instead so my retirement accounts don’t tank in the event of an untimely stock mar­ket crash during the 40s or 50s. I don’t anticipate switching to a 2045 fund, though—there are tax penalties for withdrawing funds before turning 59½ years old, and that will happen for me in 2051.

Some people have asked me why I don’t just manage the compositions myself to save a little bit on the expense ratio. That is a good point, considering how active of an investor I am, but I already have plenty of money in individual brokerage accounts that I self-manage, and it gives me additional peace of mind to have my money spread out in different fund types. In the highly unlikely but non-zero chance that I become unable to manage my own investments in the future, e.g., through some acquired mental disability or incapacitating injury, and if my caretaker is financially illiterate… even if my other investments may go to chaos during stock market un­rest, my retirement accounts will stay stable on their own thanks to Vanguard’s management.


Real es­tate investment trusts (REITs)

I’ve been exploring some options of investing in physical real estate for the past few years, but never got around to it because I never felt like it was the best time to do so considering all my circumstances at the time. I’m still keeping an eye out on good opportunities, but because the interest rates are so high on mortgages, I’m making sure I’m not acting too hastily.

In the meantime, my portfolio still has real estate exposure through real estate investment trusts. My REIT of choice is Vanguard Real Es­tate Index Fund Admiral Shares (VGSLX). I may sell some of these off in the future for tax loss harvesting or to free up cash for a down payment to purchase physical real estate, but until then, I’ve just been holding onto what I have and automatically re­in­vest­ing div­i­dends.



As I mentioned previously in the section about target date funds, I trust Vanguard to manage my retirement funds and allocate an ap­pro­pri­ate percentage of my money into bonds automatically. For my self-managed funds, I’m still young and still have reliable net-positive cash flow, so I’m investing in stocks and generally avoiding bonds.

With that being said, I’m still holding onto the United States Department of the Treasury‘s Series I Savings Bonds that I purchased over the past few years when inflation skyrocketed during and shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m not interested in pur­chas­ing more in 2024 due to the new 5.27% interest rate not being much better than my savings and money market accounts, at the further detriment of having to sacrifice a few months’ worth of interest if I want to liquify it prior to the five-year mark.

Everything else here that isn’t directly with the Treasury is in Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VBTLX).



It’s been quite a wild ride being a cryptocurrency owner. I originally bought in as a way to learn hands-on about blockchain tech­nol­o­gy and more effectively perform my job duties at Tempo, but that resulted in me being down multiple tens of thousands of un­re­al­ized losses at one point. Luckily, I didn’t panic sell—I more-or-less dismissed it as “gambling losses” and kept holding in case it went back up.

I held onto the shares of Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund (GDLC) and Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund (BITW) I already had, as well as some random coins I had in my self-custodied hardware wallet. In early 2023 during the United States banking crisis and the fol­low­ing panic, even after saying I wouldn’t invest more in crypto­currency, I made a discretionary purchase of some Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO).

Cryptocurrency has bounced back a substantial amount, which is good news for me, and I am now hovering around break-even. I’m still not selling, though—I’m not too worried about the money, and cryptocurrency is a good way to diversify my portfolio anyway, so I’ll be keeping this as a hedge against further instances of financial crises, unrest, or failure.


Individual stocks and private companies

I haven’t been too active in trading individual stocks, so most of what I own here has been under the buy-and-hold strategy. I still own a few to several thousands of dollars’ worth each of some of my favorite companies: Marriott International, Inc. (MAR), Cloud­flare, Inc. (NET), T-Mobile US, Inc. (TMUS), and Stellantis, N.V. (STLA).

In September 2023, I bought several thousand dollars’ worth of shares of TKO Group Holdings, Inc. (TKO) after the merger be­tween World Wrestling Entertainment and Ultimate Fighting Championship. I used to watch a ton of WWE when I was a kid, and I currently train casually with the UFC, so I figured this would be a fun and meaningful purchase.

A few years ago, I invested in Atlis Motor Vehicles, Inc., which turned out to be a comical failure. I bought 50 shares privately at a little over $8 each, and their initial public offering was at $27.50 (which garnered enough hype to peak at over $82 that day). Not long after, the stock price plummeted. They rebranded to NXU, Inc., which continued to be a clown show—the stock price kept falling until it was at a point where it barely broke two cents. In order to not be delisted, NXU performed a 1-to-150 reverse stock split. My 50 shares disappeared from my brokerage account, and I imagine it is soon to be replaced by ⅓rd of one share.

And finally, I am now the owner of $2,000 worth (cost basis) of unsponsored American depository receipts of Nexon Co., Ltd. (NEXOY). For a little bit of context, when I live stream on Twitch, viewers can accrue “points” on the platform to redeem for prizes, and one of my prizes is to spend $2k of my money to invest in any security listed on the NYSE, NASDAQ, OTCQX, or OTCQB. I gave my childhood best friend Ed Lam a free redemption of this while we were playing MapleStory together; he told me to “invest in MapleStory,” so I bought NEXOY as the closest available solution.


Precious metals

I went on an “alternative investments” binge during the COVID-19 pandemic to diversify my portfolio, dipping my toes into things without having much knowledge about them or doing sufficient research. One of those areas was precious metals, which I bought after learning about the historical stability of gold.

I wasn’t in a position to buy the physical metals and keep them myself, so I was seeking an investment vehicle via a custodian. How­ev­er, the lack of research meant that, although my intent was to purchase gold itself, I ended up buying a fund that has only indirect exposure to gold—the Fidelity® Select Gold Portfolio (FSAGX).

I don’t have any plans for this at the moment—I’ll just be leaving this in my Fidelity account until something prompts or forces me to take further action.


Fine art, and other collectibles

Just like precious metals, investing in fine art was part of my extreme diversification efforts. I obviously don’t have the net worth to straight-up buy physical fine art, so instead, I participated in StartEngine Collectibles Fund I, LLC’s Regulation A+ as a next-best option.

Unfortunately, some of my investment was refunded to me because minimum funding goals weren’t met, and StartEngine has had horrid proactive communication throughout the process. The amount of money I put into this experiment was so little that I ended up just losing interest, so if this does end up going anywhere useful, it will be an unexpectedly pleasant surprise later.


To wrap up, I want to reiterate that you should not blindly copy my investment portfolio. This chart is intended for entertainment purposes so you can learn more about me, not to teach you how to invest. The percentages I’ve provided reflect my personal reality and should in no way be taken as an ideal distribution. I decide how to invest my money based on a mixture of empirical data, personal speculation, and what I think would be fun—which is not a good formula for optimizing results.




Hello, Echo & Rig in Henderson, Nevada

After a lot of back-to-back sushi restaurants, I finally went to something different—a steakhouse. Now that I’m back home in Las Vegas for a bit until my next leg of travels, I met up with a friend and our restaurant of choice was Echo & Rig in Henderson, a suburb of the Las Vegas Valley in Nevada.

While we were browsing the menu and deciding what to order, we got some complimentary bread. The photo makes it look a bit washed out and unappetizing for some reason, but in-person, it was great. The outside was a perfect balance of crispiness and softness, and the inside was extremely soft. The butter had a unique texture in that, even though it had the consistency of butter spread, it still had the flavor intensity of pure butter.

To start, my friend ordered pork belly burnt ends. I tried a few pieces and it tasted very intensely of pork. Pork is usually on the lower end of my tier of pref­er­ences of different kinds of meat, but I do have to acknowledge that the pork belly burnt ends were very well prepared. Although the flavor was ex­treme­ly intense, it was a clean intensity (as opposed to tasting gamey). They also managed to capture the burnt flavor while having a relatively mild lev­el of bit­ter­ness.

My first appetizer was steak tartare. It wasn’t the best beef I had ever tasted, but it still had a rich and tasty flavor. The bread had a perfectly light amount of butter and the sourness of the pickled Castelvetrano olives added a great tang to complementarily contrast with the meat.

My second appetizer was lobster cigars with chili mint sauce. I usually like lobster, but this was the worst dish out of everything I ordered. It basically tasted like cheap deep-fried vegetable eggrolls from a fast-serve Chinese chain restaurant with a hardly-detectible infusion of lobster essence. I tried it both with and without the sauce, and it did not help.

My friend’s main entrée was an F1 Wagyu filet mignon with a side of mac and cheese.

I tried a few pieces of the mac and cheese and it was a bit too creamy and cheesy for my liking. However, flavor-wise, I think it would be great for some­one who likes cheese. I’m not entirely sure how to articulate it, considering that I don’t consume much cheese so I’m not experienced enough to pin­point exactly what was different about it, but it tasted “more gourmet” than other mac and cheeses I’ve had before.

For my entrée, instead of getting a main meal, I decided to get three more small plate appetizers as a bit of a “build-your-own” kind of dinner. First was wood-fired octopus with celery leaves. The octopus was well-prepared and the celery leaves formed a very unique pair with the octopus. The sauce was also rich and flavorful without being too salty or sweet.

However, the beans posed an interesting conundrum. I’m almost never one to say something is too bland, but the beans … were too bland. Well, at least in the state that they were served. These were very large whole beans, so I would be enjoying some octopus with sauce and then bite into a bean, which would crumble and cause an explosion of blandness in my mouth. Until I managed to clear out the bean, it would be a bit too bland. To put it simply, this dish had a sinusoidal wave of flavor—it had high flavor when I wasn’t eating a bean, and low flavor when I was eating a bean, as opposed to having a con­sist­ent steady average throughout the consumption of the dish.

I think there are two potential solutions to making this better. The first would be to slightly reduce the saltiness of the sauce, then cook the beans in salt­ier water so they absorb more of the salt—this would transfer some of the flavors into the center of the beans while still maintaining an overall net-neutral level of sodium across the dish. The second would be to cook the beans a bit firmer and then slice them into smaller pieces so it’s easier to mix in with the rest of the dish and not cause a burst of blandness.

Next was crispy pig’s head terrine with violet cherry sauce. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of pork, this was the first time I had seen this on a res­tau­rant’s menu, so I wanted to try it. To me, it just tasted like shredded pork with stuffing. Unlike the pork belly from earlier, the pig’s head did have a very light gamey taste. However, the greens on the side were a perfect level of sourness that balanced everything out well.

My final dish was bone marrow carne asada topped with onions and with a side of orange slices.

I did my best to prepare this with the tools I was provided—which wasn’t much. I wasn’t given a spoon, so I scraped the marrow out onto the plate with a fork, chopped it up a bit with the side of the fork, added in the carne asada, squirted on the orange juice, and stirred. It would’ve been helpful to have a small bowl on the side as well, as it would’ve allowed me to mix the final result into a more even and spreadable consistency.

Flavor-wise, this was my favorite dish. It was everything you’d expect from bone marrow—savory, creamy, buttery, slightly nutty, and extremely fatty. The juice from the orange wedges had a very interesting effect—it made it so it the bone marrow and carne asada smelled fresh and citrusy on the way up to your mouth, but once you were actually eating it, it did not interfere at all with the umami.

For dessert, we shared a Grand Marnier chocolate soufflé with a side scoop of vanilla ice cream. Because the portion sizes on the appetizers were de­cent­ly satisfying, I was already very full by this point, so I don’t think I was able to enjoy the soufflé as much as I could have. The cream sauce they had was a little too sweet, but bites of just the soufflé and the ice cream together served as a refreshing conclusion to the meal.

Before paying for our meal and heading out, I snapped a photo of the bar area, which had some neat lighting and a nice arrangement of alcohol bottles.

Bread and butter $  0.00
Pork belly $ 12.00
Steak tartare $ 14.00
Lobster cigars $ 12.00
F1 Wagyu filet $ 58.00
Mac and cheese $ 12.00
Wood-fired octopus $ 14.00
Pig’s head terrine $ 14.00
Bone marrow carne $ 14.00
Chocolate soufflé $ 13.00
Ice cream $  3.00
Hot tea $  5.00
Sales tax (8.375%) $ 14.32
Gratuity (20%) $ 37.06
Total $222.38

Near the entrance of the restaurant, there was a shop that I didn’t notice when first com­ing in. We were there pretty late so the storefront was closed by the time we had finished our meal, but the area was still open, so I peeked inside to take a look.

There was a dry ager up against a wall that was in the process of preparing some meats; I’m always very intrigued by the entire concept of the dry ag­ing process, so I snapped a photo before I left.

We rotate covering our meals, and it was my turn this time around; the table to the right shows how much I paid.

Although it was a bit pricey, I think the ratio of val­ue to cost was pretty good. The only dish that was a huge miss was the lobster cigars.

Con­sid­er­ing how many different plates we or­dered, I’m sure they would’ve been hap­py to comp the lob­ster cigars if I had asked. However, I al­read­y have an issue of people no­ticing my cam­er­a, as­sum­ing I am a food re­view­er, and trying to give me special treat­ment, so I decided to stay qui­et and not draw attention to myself so that I could en­sure as neutral of an experience as pos­si­ble.

If a meal like this is within your price range, then this restaurant gets my recommendation. If you’re in the Las Vegas Valley but Henderson is a bit too far away from you, they have another location at Tivoli Village, and I would imagine they both have substantially similar offerings and quality.




Photo dump from fall 2023

I usually do seasonal photo dumps upon the conclusion of each three-month period, but I decided to do this one early because I haven’t been blogging much lately, and because the Season of Discovery releases on World of Warcraft: Classic on November 30, 2023 so I might be occupied playing that with a group of friends. Here are some photographs from the last three months that didn’t make it on my blog on other posts, but are still interesting enough to share.

The beginning of September for me involved taking a trip to Southern California to help my friend Doug Wreden begin his move from the Seattle Met­ro­pol­i­tan Area to Los Angeles County. Because he was driving a much longer distance while I was coming from Las Vegas, it was easier for me to co­or­di­nate timing for his move-in logistics. I headed over to LA, spent a night in a hotel, then met up with the property manager to collect the keys.

This is the view I had from my hotel room:

Doug’s first event he ran after arriving in Los Angeles was the stretch goal stream from a prior fundraising event for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. One of the rewards for reaching a certain threshold of donations was for me to appear on his channel and do a “hot tub stream,” the concept of which has be­come notorious on Twitch and many people saying it is inappropriate for the platform due to basically being one step away from softcore por­nog­ra­phy.

Of course, I would never actually do a hot tub stream; instead, I dressed up in full business attire with a suit and tie, and while in the hot tub that was actually a cold tub because apparently it didn’t have a heater, I answered some of Twitch chat’s business-related questions. This photograph below shows the aftermath at the end of the broadcast.

Previously, I posted about going to Bubble World and Dinos Alive at the Los Angeles Exhibition Hub. In between those two tourist activities, my friend and I went to O’Sushi in the city of Rosemead. It was a small and cozy spot with good food and a friendly waitress.

We had fried squid rings as our appetizer.

My main entrée was a chirashi bowl.

The waitress suggested that we try a limited-time dish with salmon and mushrooms, so we ordered one of those too.

My friend got a couple sushi rolls as her entrée.

A few days later, we went exploring in downtown Los Angeles. I saw an interesting trolley lift system, and when I pulled out my camera to take a picture, Doug let me know that he also wanted to be in the photograph. I’m not sure if this is exactly what he was anticipating… but you cannot deny that he is definitely in the photograph.

Hello, Douglas Douglas.

Fast forward a week and a half, and it’s the end of October and I’m back in Las Vegas. A lot of my friends, including Doug, came in for a con­ven­tion. During non-convention hours, we went on an adventure exploring the Las Vegas Strip, which included the M&M’s Store. This was definitely one of the more visually overstimulating ex­pe­riences I’ve had.

The convention I alluded to above was TwitchCon. Although I’m still not a fan of it, it was a lot better last year. I imagine Twitch learned from their mis­takes from last year, and this year, they probably got a decent amount of help from the Las Vegas Convention Center staff, which is going to be much more experienced at running large-scale and logistically smooth events.

Doug had a meet-and-greet scheduled on one of the days, and upon his insistence, I joined him for it. I was mainly off to the side chatting with the Twitch staff members who were supervising the event, but once in a while, I would be requested by fans to pop in, autograph various different things, and stand in photos. Doug’s meet-and-greet went over the expected two-hour time slot by about an additional hour, and he still had fans lined up long after every other streamer had left.

After TwitchCon, we went to Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar. The food was horrid; I ordered a chicken sandwich and it tasted like a sandwich you’d find at a grocery store in one of those plastic containers sitting chilled in an open-top refrigeration unit. However, as a consolation prize, at least I got a pic­ture of my friend Eric Morino taking a sip of a drink using 5 adjoined straws.

A month later, I joined some friends and friends-of-friends in a Friendsgiving gathering in celebration of Thanksgiving. Of course, in traditional Thanks­giv­ing fashion, we had to prepare a turkey. Apparently there is a way to remove and/or snap the turkey’s sternum and/or spine in order to lay it flatter and allow it to cook faster and more evenly. Our chef was having a little bit of difficulty snapping the seemingly invincible bone, so Doug decided to help.

For Friendsgiving, participants usually bring their own dishes to aggregate them together and enjoy a full feast. This year, we were given a considerable amount of freedom to decide what we want to contribute.

In a move that surprised absolutely nobody, Doug’s dishes he brought were a large Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza, four different kinds of ube-flavored snacks, and a whole coconut. Luckily, Doug was well-versed at wielding a convenient hammer we found in a cabinet under the kitchen island, so we were able to actually consume the coconut.

I’m not the biggest fan of large gatherings, so it’s rare to see me at a party this densely populated. However, the good news is that the hosts had a great cat I was able to pet instead of having to socialize.