MGM Resorts International
Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 | 9:40 p.m.
It’s the most expensive and exclusive dining experience that will celebrate Chinese New Year in Las Vegas. The eight-course meal in the Bellagio’s Tuscany Kitchen is $500 per person, and the once-in-a-lifetime experience is available for only three days. This is a feast fit for an emperor.
First, the jewel box-sized dining room will be transformed into the high-level Diaoyutai State Guesthouse from Beijing complete with the food, the staff and the hallowed plates and tableware flown over from China. Secondly, the historic dishes will be modernized from ancient menus dating back as far as the 11th century Jing Dynasty.
With only nine tables, a small number of privileged guests here will be treated like a world leader and head of state. That’s because the Diaoyutai Palace is reserved solely for royalty and leaders. Executive chef Hao Baoli, who has led the culinary team there for 30 years, is flying here to ensure that the reputation of the prestigious State House is upheld with the finest standards.
His team will be dressed in traditional Chinese attire. He’s overseeing the transportation of rare and exotic ingredients and the decor to ensure that the Tuscany Kitchen’s transformation is as authentic as possible. There will be gold drapes, Foo Dogs, lanterns, trees and gates resembling the moon.
Chef Hao also promises that there will be extraordinary fruit-carving demonstrations and presentations and the amazing Dragon Bearded Noodle ritual. Champagne, cognacs and Chinese wines will be served.
This will be only the second time in history that the Chinese chefs have traveled to America for such a culinary event. I had the honor several years ago of attending a Diaoyutai luncheon at MGM Grand’s Mansion and can testify that it is an experience never to be forgotten.
Bellagio President Randy Morton, who will host the Chinese culinary creme de la creme, said: “Food is an integral symbol of togetherness during the Chinese New Year. Joining two of the highest standards in hospitality is an honor and will make for a very special occasion.
“The celebration menu will feature a diverse selection of dishes showcasing rare ingredients and skillful techniques. Strict nutritional requirements will ensure that all dishes are low in sugar and sodium and high in protein. The result is cuisine that is visually stunning, legendary and nutritionally holistic.”
The starter course consists of 12 items set out on three platters of pastry, cold and small dish delicacies. The main course consist of six items, including boiled lobster claw and whole abalone in oyster sauce with three side dishes, including the revered Dragon Beard noodles made in front of guests.
Diaoyutai dates back to the Jin Dynasty of 1115-1234 and the imperial residence in the Qing Dynasty. It has hosted 1,220 heads of state and government leaders.
ART INSTALLATION: Over at the Palazzo is a unique Chinese New Year creation towering 40 feet high. It took 10 months to design, build, deliver and install. To celebrate the Year of the Snake, the art includes a giant peach tree and snake produced by 77 worldwide artists from as far away as the Czech Republic and as nearby as Tustin, Calif. The tree is adorned with 8,800 blossom vines bearing 193,000 flowers.
The snake measures 98 feet in length, and the tree stands 38 feet tall. Additionally, there are 28 custom dancing lanterns in the display. A ceremonial dragon dance and eye painting ceremony will officially kick off Chinese New Year on Saturday. The dragon dance will wind through The Venetian and Palazzo with firecrackers, dancers and drummers in authentic costumes before winding up at the Palazzo waterfall and atrium gardens.
On Sunday, there will be a traditional Chinese fan dance in The Shoppes at the Palazzo rotunda with more than 500 red envelopes distributed to guests filled with prizes. Try to count all the traditional I Ching coins that represent wealth that sit amid the snake and in the Lalique statues of the Palazzo.
Chef Simon To of the Palazzo’s Zine Noodles Dim Sum has created a special menu including firecracker Manila clams infused with Chinese white wine. Toast your Chinese friends with the Jaina cocktail of lemon grass-infused sake, dragon fruit and lotus root syrup.
Gong Xi Fa Cai -- Happy Chinese New Year! May you be happy and prosperous!
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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Inspired by the beautiful villages of Europe, the AAA Five Diamond Bellagio overlooks a Mediterranean-blue, 8 ½-acre lake, where fountains perform a magnificent aquatic ballet choreographed to music and lights.
Within Bellagio are award-winning dining experiences including two AAA Five Diamond restaurants, Julian Serrano's Picasso and Le Cirque from the renowned Maccioni family.
Bellagio is home to an impressive collection of luxury retailers including Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Breguet, Prada, Fred Leighton, Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Hermès and OMEGA.
A world-class art gallery, the exquisite Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, the stunning “O” by Cirque du Soleil, a luxurious spa and salon, dynamic nightlife at The Bank, Hyde Bellagio and Lily Bar & Lounge and an elegant casino all add to the extraordinary Bellagio experience.
With top accommodations, first-rate entertainment, high-end shopping and a slew of acclaimed chefs, the Palazzo has positioned itself as one of the most luxurious resorts on the Strip.
More than 3,000 all-suite rooms start at 740 square feet and are decorated in a modern, yet classic, Italian style. Each room features a sleeping area, with a king or two queens, and a sunken living room area with floor to ceiling windows.
A cathedral ceiling tops the Palazzo casino, while a second 80-foot dome brings natural light to the property's lobby. The 105,000 square foot casino features more than 2,000 slots and 80 table games but lacks the stale smell of cigarettes, as the property is LEED certified with smoking off limits in most of the Palazzo — including 50 percent of the casino floor.
Dining at the Palazzo is among the best of the Strip, starting with Wolfgang Puck's CUT. Chef Simon To serves up authentic Chinese cuisine at Zine, while Sushisamba combines Brazilian and Peruvian flavors with Japanese techniques. At LAVO, club-goers can dine on Mediterranean dishes before heading upstairs to the bath house-inspired nightclub.