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Battle of the Bowls welcomes Las Vegas-area hookah lounges to put blends to test

An upcoming competition promises some flair and a lot of smoke.

At the center of it all is to be hookah -- specially made, flavored tobacco smoked through a water pipe.

Earl "Yogi" Halbert is calling all hookah lounges and their chefs to participate in a Battle of the Bowls, planned for 9 p.m. June 8 at the Xclusive Ultra Lounge & Cafe, 953 E. Sahara Ave.

Beyond the battle, the event will allow those in the industry to network and rally support for their unique product, Halbert said. A championship belt and possible prizes are at stake.

"Hookah is an experience," Halbert said. "And everyone has a different type, how they prepare and the way it tastes and the way it's smoked."

The popularity of hookah has gained steam in Las Vegas in the last decade. Lounges and cafes around the Southwest have popped up for those 18 or older, as per Nevada law, to gather and puff among friends.

The competition is open to the public. Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 in advance.

Comedian Mike P. will host the event, and live entertainment will be provided. A panel of celebrity judges is being compiled.

Each contestant will be required to use the same brand of tobacco in the competition. Rules regarding charcoal, hookah size and flavor selection will apply.

Judge s' criteria will be on a scale of one to five for five categories: first taste of bowl flavor and hit; hookah hitting smoothness ; harsh flavor (for negative aspects) ; smokiness; and bowl name creativity. The entry fee is $200.

The co-owners of Kaliopi Hookah & Lounge, 6985 W. Sahara Ave., are already plotting what their signature entry will be.

The lounge boasts flavors such as Fruit Loops, Jetlag, Sunshine Megatron and Philippine Sunrise.

"My goal is to put our name on the map," co-owner Anthony Layao said .

The business was named after Layao's daughter.

Fellow co-owner Ko , who goes by one name, said the lounge's brand is different than those at other lounges.

"A lot of them are used to each other, and their main focus is outdoing each other, not just being themselves," he said. "They all look the same."

Halbert also invites frequent hookah smokers to encourage their favorite lounge to enter the competition.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Opportunity Village, 6300 W. Oakey Blvd. Sponsors also are still needed for the event.

For more information, call 328-9219 or email

Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at or 477-3839.