Does it take a village to deliver a flawless dining experience? Not necessarily, but thanks to the interdepartmental teamwork we experienced at Wynn Las Vegas, our dinner at Wing Lei was ... well, let’s just say we think this is what Steve Wynn has in mind.
Let’s start in reservations. The Wynn website tries to get everybody to do them online, but we demurred. We called the main number and got patched through, half expecting somebody to send us to the web or at the very least to deliver a terse, tense experience, which seems to be the way with reservationists these days.
Instead? The woman was warm, personable and knowledgeable about the restaurant. She suggested we request a window table (which, admittedly, is easier to get in July than, say, March, but anyway), which we wouldn’t have thought of. And we enjoyed it immensely, since, as she’d promised, the view was of two century-old pomegranate trees in all of their gnarled glory, plus dozens of other plants, a gently flowing water feature and a row of golden urns. Talk about a minivacation.
But she wasn’t the only one on top of her game that day. Our entire experience was as smooth as it gets, beginning with the hostess who noted that our table was, by request, at the window (thanks to our phone friend). Our waiter was a polished professional, calling us by our (fake) name throughout dinner and making suggestions to bolster our experience. He asked a number of questions about how we wanted to pace things, for example whether we wanted to relax over our cocktails a bit before ordering. The reservations lady had suggested the pomegranate martini (which, as our waiter pointed out, is only apropos when gazing at those pomegranate trees), and while I usually don’t like froufrou drinks, this one scored.
And the food? Oh, the food! An associate who’s a Wing Lei diehard has raved about the Three Cup Sea Bass ($36), so that had to be one of our entrees. And wow; wow, wow, wow. It’s served en cocotte, or in a sort of casserole, and when the lid was removed the fragrance ensured that the dish’s reputation truly preceded it. I can best describe it as caramelized, because that’s what characterized the large chunks of fresh, sweet fish, the chunks of tofu and the roasted garlic cloves which, with basil leaves and shards of sweet, tender ginger rested in a ginger-soy reduction.
So that one was positively transcendent, but Wing Lei’s treatment of the old-standard Mongolian Beef ($36) also shone because of its far-from-old-standard treatment. This one was served in a sort of nest of fried shredded phyllo, a nice crisp, neutral note that balanced, in both flavor and texture, the tender beef, crisp-tender broccoli and other vegetables, and their sprightly but judiciously seasoned garlic-chili sauce.
Rice was extra (jasmine or brown, $5), which seemed sort of odd, but we were glad we got it.
We also were glad we got a starter of Crispy Pork Belly ($20), broad slices that were indeed crisp on one edge but butter-soft otherwise, the slightly smoky, slightly porky flavor enhanced by the sweet barbecue sauce and offset by a ball of pickled cabbage.
We also were glad we got a dessert of walnut semifreddo ($12), a sort of half-log topped with candied walnuts and a light pineapple jam that carried just the right astringent touch.
And glad, come to think of it, that that associate raved about Wing Lei, which seems destined to become a favorite.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0474.