MOzen and the Mandarin Oriental

Every time we’re in Vegas we usually try and eat at a new restaurant, even though we’re often guilty of eating at restaurants that have become our favorites. Two examples of this are the dinners we had at Lotus of Siam (off strip) and L’Atelier where (for the second time) we indulged in their 9 course tasting menu (post, with photos, to come).

With limited time and a limited number of meals while in Vegas, we opted to have lunch one of our days at MOzen Bistro at the new (to us) Mandarin Oriental. What’s interesting to me is that the Mandarin Oriental, while on the strip, is part of the City Centre and while the other properties in the centre have that distinct Vegas feel (the Cosmopolitan, Aria), the Mandarin Oriental does not. Some could argue that it’s because it’s one of the few hotels on the strip without a casino, but it’s more than just the absence of ringing slot machines and the cloud of smoke that dominates most of the hotels.

It’s the feel that takes over you when you finally find the somewhat obscure entrance, cross through the threshold of their property and then, suddenly and somewhat unexplainably, quiet descends.

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I was hushed (and awed) by the towering bamboo in the hotel’s taxi drop off area. Days later, I came across this quote by Chinese philosopher Huanchu Daoren that accurately captured my feelings about the Mandarin:

“Calm in quietude is not real calm. When you can be calm in the midst of activity, this is the true state of nature.”

It could be the result of spending six years or so working (and submersed) in the Chinese culture, but I responded to the hotel in a way I haven’t responded to a Vegas property in a very long time. I felt the stress of the strip, the effects if the traveling, the fatigue of my cold that accompanied us all but fade away almost as soon as we strolled through the doors.

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The beauty about the Mandarin? Their checkin lobby is located many floors above. The entrance lobby is eerily quiet and barren, with an unobtrusive concierge desk staffed by individuals who seem to know when to make themselves noticed and when not.

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We had fifteen minutes to wait before MOzen opened and I was perfectly content to spend those moments in the lobby, in the quietude that the hotel provided so simply and elegantly.

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I wore a skirt and sleeveless top to lunch, with flip flops and felt neither over or under dressed.

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I snapped this photo in the hotel bathroom as well as this one:

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Lunch, as had been reviewed on prominent foodie websites, was as promised. I ordered the chicken tikka wrap that included some of the best tzatkiki I’ve eaten and an incredibly spicy mint chutney that I obsessed over long after the meal was gone. At $14, including the wrap, a salad and fries, it was exceptional value and helped ease the pain of the $7 lemonade that I ordered for the Vitamin C. Taylor ordered the murgh makhani (their version of butter chicken) and while it’s price of $33 was a bit steep, the dish included the chicken and sauce dish, a black lentil dal, rice and a basket of nan. Easily shareable for two people. We started off with the spicy tuna rolls as an appetizer and at $12 for 8 pieces, it was fresh and very well prepared. We had so much food that I suggested we save the leftovers and have them for dinner that night in our room, which we did.

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View from our lunch table.

I’m desperate to stay here next time we’re in Vegas and not just for the quietude and the isolation.

Because honestly? I can’t stop thinking about that damn murgh makhani.

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