Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I know this picture from Chapala's isn't my most artistic photographic effort, but buffets are hard to capture on a (plastic) plate. Ian and I went here for brunch on Sunday, and though the place looks like a dive gaming bar from the outside, the inside is welcoming and the food is tasty and reasonably priced. They've managed to hang on for about as long as I've been alive, so they're probably doing something right.

On Sundays you can take advantage of a real bargain with the aforementioned buffet ($7.95). I'm not usually a fan of all-you-can-eat since I usually end up spending more than I consume, but this is a good one. For eight bones, you cant go wrong.

Selections included; shrimp ceviche; mole; chile verde; hominy soup; and cheesy roasted potato skins, amongst a handful of other more ordinary dishes. Everything was much better than I had expected. The ceviche was full of avocado and wonderfully fresh shrimp and the mole was fall-apart tender. The pork chile verde was probably my favorite, as it came very close to the mouth-watering version of my brother's full-time nanny and part-time cook, Dulce.

Dessert wasn't as impressive as the flan was mediocre at best. There was also something that reminded me of a caramel turtle pie. This was good, but so thick and sweet it was like eating candy. Next time I might splurge a little and get the tempting fried ice cream.

Even with a do-it-yourself buffet, the service was attentive and kind. The experience overall was one I'd like to repeat, so I'll be coming here on any given Sunday to save some money, eat good food, and support our local mom and pop's.

A note on family-run restaurants: I urge my readers to support the mom and pops of Vegas so we don't lose the good ones. I just found out we had another tragic casualty of the recession in Taqueria Los Parados, the wonderful little taco spot I raved about near Chapala's (I will sure miss their cheesy brocheta and tacos al pastor with the little slice of pineapple). If you like local and like to eat well, avoid the chains and patronize the places that really need you.

2101 S. Decatur
Las Vegas, NV 89102
(702) 871-7805

Today's Food Rating:
Buffet: 9 (value taken into consideration)

Restaurant Rating: 7

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Restaurant.com Code

Until Monday you can get $25 gift certificates on restaurant.com for $2 by entering the code GIVE at checkout. I recommend purchasing them for Nittaya's Secret Kitchen, Forte Tapas Bar, and Mundo.

Friday, November 12, 2010

India Palace

India Palace has been voted best Indian restaurant in Las Vegas by The Zagat survey every year since 2001 and it has been described to me by Indians as the most authentic restaurant we have. I've dined there a handful of times to see if I agree.

Although I wouldn't normally want to hang out on East Twain, one of the city's most dangerous areas, I will always take unnecessary risks for good food. The restaurant sticks out as the only kept up, interesting piece of architecture in that area, so it's hard to miss.

You will forget about the exterior surroundings upon entering as the decor is immediately welcoming. The walls are painted in warm, cheery earth tones that are beautifully complemented by heavy amber drapes and rich, dark woods. There is a comfortable full-service bar you can enjoy a drink at before your meal, making India palace stand out from many of its competitors.

My favorite thing to get here is the dosa, a thin pancake made from chickpeas. It is of such great diameter that it must be folded upon itself so it can almost fit on your plate, and it is eaten by tearing off more reasonably sized pieces. The only other place I've seen dosa is at India Masala in the Riviera (same owners, I believe), so I highly recommend ordering it here. You can have your dosa stuffed with an incendiary potato filling, or get the plain Papper Dosa, which I prefer (both $10.95). It is served with an addictive coconut 'chutney,' which is more like a coconut puree, and sambar, a tangy tamarind based soup/dip. Even without the accompaniments, the dosa serves as a fantastic vehicle for eating your main selections and proves to be an interesting alternative to naan.

The Chicken Tikka Masala ($14.95) and Mushroom Matar ($12.95) are fantastic, but I think the chef's abilities stand out most in the Lamb Rogan Josh ($15.95). The tomato broth is reminiscent of an authentic, slow-cooked Italian marinara that has been spiked with exotic spices, and the flavors continuously evolve in your mouth, revealing the sauce's complexity. The lamb is perfectly tender to boot, and hasn't a hint of the gaminess that can come with lower quality cuts.

So, is India Palace the best Indian restaurant in town? I can't affirmatively say yes (I had a spinach soup that was inedible and they don't use many fresh veggies in their lunch buffet), but it is definitely a contender. Best of all, they are featured on crowdsavings.com THIS WEEKEND so you can be frugal by purchasing a $30 certificate for just $15.

India Palace
505 E. Twain
Las Vegas, NV 89169
(702) 796-4177
open 7 days

Restaurant Rating: 8

Food Ratings:
Dosa: 9
Chicken Tikka Masala: 9
Lamb Rogan Josh: 9.5
Naan: 9
Mushroom Matar: 8.5
Spinach Soup: 1


Thursday, November 4, 2010


I apologize that I haven't been posting much lately - October was a busy month in the dog world. Also, I apologize for the issues some of you have been commenting on with regards to my new website. I'll be posting on both sites until I figure everything out. I'm no computer whiz so thanks for bearing with me! If you tried to send me an email at my new address, jillian@frugalfoodielasvegas.com, I didn't get it because it wasn't set up correctly. It is set up now so I'd love to hear from you. Thanks!

See below for the latest entry on Sen of Japan.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Semi-Frugal Foodie: Sen of Japan

Sen of Japan is somewhere between 'Frugal' and 'Un-Frugal.' It's frugal because you won't get anything better for the price (on or off the Strip) and it's un-frugal because, well, it's not cheap. Ian an I used to go to Sen of Japan all the time when it first opened, but hadn't been in quite some time because it isn't very close to our house and it's only open for dinner. I've recently been twice, however, and am happy to report the food is as good as ever.

Both times I had the Black Cod Soy, because going to Sen of Japan and not getting the Black Cod Soy is like going to Italy and not getting pasta. It's a buttery piece of fish with a caramelized, but not overpowering, sweet exterior. Each bite melts in your mouth it may be the best piece of fish you've ever tasted. The pickled shoot that adorns it is also fantastic and offers a complementary acidic element ($13.75, add $9 to top it with fois gras).

Besides the cod, I sampled a few other old favorites, the home-made Japanese Pickles and the Mushroom Salad. The pickles are made from yamagobo (similar to a carrot), turnip, Japanese yam, cabbage, and something reminiscent of a caper berry. Each piece has a slightly different flavor and texture, but all offer a colorful, crunchy start to the meal ($8.50). The mushroom salad consists of a warm mound of gently sauteed mushrooms, including enoki and wood ear. It has a heavy dose of yuzu that makes it taste bright, and a bit tart ($7.75).

The sashimi is of the caliber of Raku, but here you can have rice with your fish at the full service sushi bar. The spicy yellowtail hand roll ($4.80) is bursting with flavor and filling, but a new favorite is the Sashimi Combination Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette ($12.95). Impecably fresh slices of normally mundane varieties, including tuna and salmon, are arranged around a pile of delicate Japanese greens topped with finely shredded radish. A light dose of garlic vinaigrette and sprinkling of capers complete the masterpiece.

Another surprise favorite was the fried calamari with onion (around $9). Tender strips of squid are paired with onion slices then beer battered and toped with slices of jalapeno. These taste like onion rings of the upscale variety.

The sukiyki was the only thing I wouldn't order again, but that's probably because I'm partial to preparing my own sukiyaki at Swish (review to come later). Overall, however, Sen of Japan is a place you should try at least once, even if it might be a little inconvenient to get to.

Sen of Japan
8480 West Desert Inn
Las Vegas, NV 89117

Restaurant Rating: 9

Food Ratings:
Sashimi Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette: 9
Spicy Yellowtail Handroll: 9
Mushroom Salad: 8.5
Japanese Pickles: 8.5
Black Cod Soy: 9.5
Calamari with Onion: 9
Sukiyaki: 7


Sashimi Salad

Calamari with Onion

Mushroom Salad

Spicy Yellowtail Handroll

Japanese Pickles