Friday, December 29, 2006

Where to go in Sin City - Turning Japanese

I decided to seperate this from my previous post because it really does deserve it's own section.

Inaka Sushi: This is a local's place through and through and is one of the two sushi places I eat at somewhat regularly. The staff is very friendly and they know most of the people that walk through their doors. The food is good, and they have a wide variety of sushi to choose from. I highly recommend getting the all you can eat sushi. This place is by no means spectacular, but I have yet to eat at an Asian restaurant here that is.

Sushi Hana: Another good sushi place with a good selection of sushi and a highly recommendable all you can eat sushi set-up. Another great example of friendly staff, although the service is not quite as good as Inaka. They do have a frequet flyers type card where you get 10 all you can eats, and the 11th is free. Try the 215. It's a hands down favourite.

Shuseki: Although they have sushi, I recommend this place for it's dishes. I love Katsu Don and they have a very good version, although I have yet to try anything there that wasn't good. I would also recommend the Sukiyaki Don. The lunch chef is much better than the dinner chef.

Hyakumi @ Caesar's Palace: If you absolutely need to stay on the strip to eat Japanese food, I would recommend Hyakumi. But, keep in mind you will pay tourist prices. It has been here forever and is very beautiful with good service. The food is good, but pretty standard selection wise.

Ra @ Fashion Show Mall: This is one of those places that I would recommend going if you just want to snack while you drink and hang with friends. The food is good and I highly recommend the tootsie roll, be careful though, one of the sushi chefs messes it up. The menu is limited and not very authentic, but the food is good regardless. This is definitely for a younger crowd.

Where to go in Sin City - Eat Your Heart Out

In hindsight I realized that my bars listing was also a listing of some of my favourite food spots so this will be coming from a slightly different tack and have more of a touristy flair.

Bellagio Buffet: I go for the dinner buffet. I've eaten at this buffet since the first year Bellagio opened. It's pricey, so I don't go very often and usually only when someone else is paying, but it's my choice for best buffet here in the land of buffets. The dinner is good, don't get me wrong, it's one of the better ones in town, but I go to the dinner buffet for dessert. The dessert selection is large, even for a buffet, and every last thing is worth having again and again. If you like dessert, this is the buffet to go to.

Stage Deli @ Ceasar's Palace Forum Shops: I ate at Stage Deli my first trip to Vegas as a teenaged tourist over a decade ago, and I made sure that every other trip here as a tourist included a stop at Stage Deli. Now that I live here, every trip to the Strip includes a stop at Stage Deli for corned beef and matzo ball soup. I have never been to New York and so can't speak as to comparison and accuracy, but in my dreams of corned beef, the delis of New York are clones of Stage Deli. Lots of food, good selection, good prices, and friendly staff just make this place even better.

Lucille's @ The District, Green Valley: I was born in the South and I eat BBQ just about every meal when I go back to visit. I lived in California's BBQ area for a few years(and yes, it does have one, did you think all those cows were just for making cheese?). I love me good BBQ. Lucille's is good BBQ. Everything I've had at Lucille's has been superb. The tri-tip is excellent, the pulled pork is divine, and the sides are spectacular. I usually get a two meat, two sides combo, and have one meat and one side packed to go since the servings are really two meals masquerading as one. I've had BBQ from quite a few places in town and I was sorely disappointed each time, but Lucille's redeems Vegas.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Where to Go In Sin City - Drink Drink Drink

I am not a true local, but I have been living in Sin City for the past three years and have a lot of social circles here. As the New Year is approaching and many, many, many people come out here to party, I thought I'd mention some of my favourite places to hang out, eat, and drink.

I'll start with the bars.

Crown And Anchor: A British pub that appeals both to displaced Britons and college kids. It is located near the UNLV campus and at night gets a mostly college crowd. However, go early in the day and you'll find older couples taking their afternoon tea there or families getting together over yorkshire pudding and trifles. The C&A offers a good collection of alcohol, both from the UK and elsewhere, and a good selection of food. Every night of the week has some special going on. Sunday has a special roast meat meal, Monday is all you can eat fish and chips, Wednesday has a special pork dinner, Thursday has a trivia contest, and Saturday has a band in the evening. I know there's something offered Tuesdays and Fridays, I just can't recall them.

The Freaking Frog: The Freaking Frog offers the biggest beer selection in Las Vegas and a pretty decent wine list as well. A recent addition is a whiskey club upstairs, but I believe it's membership only. The food selection is limited but everything is good. The one drawback is the price of beer, although if you get one of the 2 for 1 options during happy hour, it's acceptable. It's become something of a bohemian hangout and you'll see the same people everytime you go in. It's located across from the UNLV campus and, as such, caters to the college crowd.

The Dispensary Lounge: Laid-back, casual, and friendly sum this place up. It doesn't have a great drink selection, the food is good but limited, and there's not much to entertain you, but this is the kind of place you like to hang with your friends and just chill.

McMullans: An Irish pub that looks like you think an Irish pub should look. The food is good and they give you a lot of it, which makes the prices more palatable. The staff is friendly and good at what they do, although I did have problems with my order the last time. There's a ton of little private booth type spaces in addition to the bar and restaurant sections. Whether you're there with one person or a big group of friends, you get a sense of privacy.

The Peppermill: If you've ever seen those "local's favourites" shows about Vegas, you've probably heard of the Peppermill. I was actually introduced to it via a sister restaurant in California. The Vegas Peppermill is actually two different places, the lounge and the restuarant. The restuarant specialty is burgers. Big, wonderful burgers. There's other things on the menu, but I go for the burgers. The lounge is the kind of place you want to take your make-out partner. There's low, heavily padded booths. There's a fire pit. There's plants between the booths to add some privacy. If you want to hang with friends, this is a great place. Even if this sounds like it's not your kind of place, it's one of those places you should still go to at least once. I'm sure you'll be won over.

Big Dogs Draft House: The only problem with the Big Dogs Draft House is that it's so far away from me. And they're Packers fans. But hey, no bar is perfect. The Draft House as it's generally referred to makes some great beer and a lot of really great food. And we're talking ribs-sticking, you leave happy kind of food. My favourite menu item is the steak and brats sandwich. With your order you get a selection of condiments beyond the basic mustard and ketchup and steak sauce They bring out a little serving thing holding sauerkraut, horseradish, onions, and something else I can't recall because I don't ever get past the first three. Love this place. And if you like dogs, particually Labradors, you'll love the decor. There are a couple other Big Dogs locations, but this is the one to go to.

Rum Runner: This is a chain of, I believe, 5 locations and it should not be confused with that snooty casino trap called Rum Jungle(which actually has a good Argentinian steak that almost makes up for the rest of the place). I go to the Rum Runner at Spencer and Tropicana. There's a restaurant section for the underaged, but there's never anybody in that part of the place. This is a place for pool players to play them some pool. The staff are friendly and the patrons are equally so. You need pointers on your game? Just ask and they'll help. Good, greasy, bar food, real cheap. The burgers are good as are the wings, and they have a dozen different wing flavours to choose from. Only drawback is it's cash only. And it's also a Packers bar. Oh well.

Note: It's not that I don't like the Packers, but where I grew up Joe Montana is God.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Olympus and the M:Robe

I will disclaim this review by saying that I have only owned, to the best of my recollection, one Olympus product, the one I am reviewing here: the M:Robe.

I will speak first to the M:Robe. It has two things going for it. It's cheap(if you can still find it) and it's color scheme is black and red. Supposedly it also displays pictures downloaded to it, but I have yet to push my luck in that regard. The M:Robe supposedly has a 5GB hard drive, but I have been unable to get more than about 3.12GB on it at any given time. Attemps to put more than 3.12GB of mp3s on the device always results in errors. The thing is buggy. When it works, it works quite well and is easy to pick up and use(provided there's already music on it, I'll get to that later). Unfortunately, it appears to be a 50/50 chance of whether the thing will work the first time you turn it on after recharging it. Hard resetting it via the little hole in the bottom specified gets it to work, but you need the tip of a mechanical pencil or a small paperclip. I, for one, don't make a habit of carrying around a small paperclip to bend out of shape to reset my mp3 player everytime I plan on listening to it. The software you have to use with the M:Robe is the worst aspect of the player. You HAVE TO USE the software. No two ways about it, no bypassing it, no choice. The software is hideously slow. I have a 2.81Ghz processor. It takes about 10 seconds to process even the slightest thing I try to do. Even when I have absolutely nothing else running and I just started the computer. The software is completely counter to any logic and is very clunky to use. Most of the time you think you've told it to do something and it decides you haven't done anything at all. To add music to the M:Robe you have to not only add it to the playlist, you then have to manually check the box next to it. To remove music from the M:Robe you have to LEAVE IT ON THE PLAYLIST, UNCHECK THE BOX NEXT TO IT, and then do a COMPLETE SYNCHRONIZATION. Synchronization usually takes at least half an hour if you go over 1.5GB. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the inherent fact that 3.12GB worth of mp3 files is a lot of files to sort through. Did I mention that most of the time the software doesn't recognize that the M:Robe is hooked up? The best part of the software is the fact that if I'm listening to anything on my computer when I'm running the M:Robe software, when I ask the software to do anything, the music/movie/animation I'm listening to pauses until the command finishes processing. That's right, something designed to assist in the enjoyment of music disrupts the enjoyment of music.

Now, onto my experience with the department masquerading as Customer Service. When I got the (first) M:Robe, it didn't work, right out of the box. OK, I sent it in since it was new and the warranty was supposed to be in effect. Two weeks later I finally get a letter saying that they determined my warranty was void. All I had done was charge the thing and then try to turn it on(it froze during boot up). I tried all hours of the day all different days of the weeks for another week and a half to get someone from "customer service" to PICK UP THE PHONE! I'd like to mention that I was calling the phone number that answered with a recording saying you had reached the customer service line for Olympus and is the number that was listed on the warranty as the customer service line. I had to call the marketing department to find out that the number I had been calling WAS WRONG. Not just a little wrong, completely wrong. So, finally, I've got the right number and I call and they tell me the warranty was voided by a dent. There was no dent. The thing was NEW and hadn't impacted anything with any force of any kind. They refused to do anything and two weeks later finally sent the M:Robe back. When I got it, I checked the entire thing over. THERE WAS NO DENT! And it still didn't work. I sent it back to where I got it and got a replacement within the week.

In short, Olympus "Customer Service" is SO BAD, and the M:Robe SO BUGGY, and the software SO UNWEILDY that I will never spend another dime on an Olympus product.