lobster risotto @ Hell's Kitchen Las Vegas
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Hell’s Kitchen (Las Vegas, NV)

Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen is one of Las Vegas’ biggest restaurant openings this year. The celebrity chef already had a strong presence on The Strip and this restaurant is his fifth. The restaurant has been exceedingly popular, notably taking down 12,000 reservations within the first 10 days the reservation books were open. The restaurant space is huge, too, seating almost 300 diners for lunch and dinner.

The restaurant is based on Ramsay’s popular TV show, complete with red and blue kitchens to represent the competing teams on the show. The menu features many of the same dishes that are cooked on the show including the chef’s Beef Wellington. A three-course prix fixe menu ($75) is available for dinner in addition to an a la carte menu. We ordered one prix fixe menu, adding an additional appetizer and Beef Wellington a la carte.

baked Alaska @ Nomad
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The NoMad Mezzanine (Los Angeles, CA)

The NoMad Hotel, located in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, opened in January. The hotel opening brought with it two imports from the NYC original – the highly-regarded NoMad Bar as well as NoMad Restaurant. The dining is overseen by Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park fame, whose NoMad in NYC has garnered one Michelin star. As such, this has been a highly anticipated restaurant ever since it was announced.

I’ve dined at NYC’s NoMad once, for lunch, and was very excited to try the Los Angeles restaurant for dinner. There are two concepts at the hotel – the Lobby for more casual all-day dining and the upstairs dinner-only Mezzanine for more formal dining.

ribeye cap @ Felix
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Felix Trattoria (Venice, CA)

Felix has been one of the most popular restaurants in the city since opening almost a year ago. Here, Evan Funke (Rustic Canyon, Bucato) is getting a lot of attention for his pasta program which is regarded as one of the best in the city. The pasta making room is showcased with a direct view from the dining room, where diners can see the exacting precision and attention to detail that goes into each and every bite.

crispy pork belly @ Majordomo
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Majordomo (Los Angeles, CA)

David Chang’s Majordomo opened at the end of January, easily one of the biggest restaurant openings this year. Chang’s popularity has never been higher given the success of his Netflix documentary Ugly Delicious, and it’s reflected in the reservations – it’s one of the toughest tables in town. I lucked out in getting a four-top reservation just two days prior.

The cuisine at Majordomo is pan-Asian with a bunch of other influences. The menu is categorized into sections for bing flatbread (with accompaniments), raw, market/vegetables, noodles, fish and meat. In addition, there are a handful of large-format dishes meant to be shared with larger groups. We ordered a sprinkling of items throughout each of the categories.

truffle duck @ hakkasan
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Hakkasan (San Francisco, CA)

Hakkasan San Francisco opened at the end of 2012, but I didn’t have a chance to visit until this most recent SF trip. I’ve dined at Hakkasan’s Las Vegas and now-closed Beverly Hills locations a couple of times and have enjoyed my prior meals. I was interested to see how the SF location’s upscale Chinese food would compare.

Our party of four ordered a handful of prior favorite dishes, along with a few new ones.

miyazaki wagyu beef @ Amber HK
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Amber (Hong Kong)

Amber is a two Michelin starred restaurant at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Currently ranked #24 in the world’s 50 best restaurants list, it’s one of the most highly-regarded Western restaurants in Hong Kong. Here, chef Richard Ekkebus cooks modern French cuisine incorporating plenty of seasonal Asian ingredients. Given the vast majority of my meals in town have been Chinese, I elected to have one non-Asian lunch.

The restaurant offers a weekday lunch set menu of 3 of 4 courses (USD $76, $125), as well as a lunch degustation menu of 4 or 6 courses ($164, $189). The items on the degustation menu sounded much more interesting, so I opted for the 4-courser.

dim sum @ Lung King Heen
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Lung King Heen (Hong Kong) [2]

Lung King Heen is a three Michelin starred restaurant in Hong Kong. It was the first Chinese restaurant to be awarded that distinction in 2009 and is still one of the most notable Cantonese fine dining establishments in the city. I’ve been here once for dim sum and had a good meal; this would be my first dinner visit.

While a tasting menu is available, we opted for a la carte focusing mostly on items noted as a ‘chef’s recommendation’ on the menu.

ha gow & yan toh heen
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Yan Toh Heen (Hong Kong)

Yan Toh Heen is a two Michelin star restaurant inside Hong Kong’s Intercontinental Hotel. The restaurant serves upscale Chinese cuisine featuring dim sum for lunch. I’ve had two upscale dim sum lunches in Hong Kong in a prior visit (Lung King Heen and T’ang Court), but this would be my first time here. The restaurant is located on the ground level of the hotel featuring plenty of harbor views.