Red 8

Wynn Las Vegas (last visit: April 2006).

Red 8 is Wynn's informal Asian restaurant, open for lunch and dinner.  It serves a variety of Southeast Asian foods: Malaysian satays, Japanese noodles, Cantonese noodles and, on weekends, Hong Kong style dim sum.

Wynn Las Vegas has an array of excellent restaurants - all of them expensive.  Red 8 tries to fill a niche by providing good food at a modest price, relatively speaking.  Many dishes are in the $15 - $20 range, although there are a few luxury live seafood items that will set you back almost $100.

The Menu
The breadth of the menu is surprising.  Among its offerings are Malaysian beef satays, Korean kim chee, Japanese udon noodles, Vietnamese pho, pad Thai, Indian mee goreng noodles, and Cantonese roast duck.  There's a single menu for lunch and dinner.

The Atmosphere
The restaurant is decorated in black, white and cream, with red accents.  Considering its location next to the casino, it's fairly quiet, with an informal feel.  There's a small communal table, but it doesn't seem very, well...communal.  I haven't noticed any conversations between strangers, and management doesn't help when it treats the table as overflow space when no other tables are available.

Service is a weak link at Red 8.  On my first visit, after I was finished eating, my server disappeared.  I waited for 15 minutes (actually a little bit longer than that, as I didn't check my watch right away), looking around for someone.  I finally managed to flag down a bus boy, and asked him to get my server.  She appeared a couple of minutes later, with no explanation.  On my second visit, service was better, but again there were some long waits.  On my third visit, I imitated a gentleman at a neighboring table who took a more direct approach: loudly hailing the server like a passing taxicab.  Crude, but effective.

Dim Sum
Dim Sum is available for lunch on weekends.  There are no rolling carts; ordering is from a menu.  Each order comes as two or three pieces, so it would be more fun to order as a group, but ordering solo worked out OK.  It took a little while to prepare the food, but the wait wasn't too long.  I had:
·     Shrimp in bean curd rolls.  Like a flat, fried egg roll, it was filled with shrimp, what tasted like shrimp paste, and bits of carrot and some green vegetable.  A dipping bowl contained Worcestershire sauce.  If you like bean curd skin, it's a very tasty dish.  Very good.
·     Deep fried taro dumplings.  Light and crispy outside, with soft (mashed?) taro inside, mixed with barbecue pork.  Very good+.
·     Sticky rice in lotus leaf. 
A rectangle of soft, sticky rice, with small shrimp and barbecued pork, wrapped in a lotus leaf.  Good.
·     Thai ice tea.  Layered cream (?) on top of very sweet strong tea.  I liked it, but some people might have been turned off by the sweetness.  Good.

Overall, the Dim Sum at Red 8 beat that at Mirage's Noodle Kitchen (closed in 2006) by a little bit.  The bill: $24.

Regular Meal #1
This time, I decided to try something different:
·     Oriental green onion pancake.  Vaguely reminiscent of a quesadilla with scallions, but crispier.  Hoisin sauce was served as a condiment.  It didn't have much flavor; the hoisin sauce helped a little, but not much.  Fair.
·     Indian mee goreng with shrimp.  Wok-fried noodles, with onion and shrimp, and bits of a very hot pepper.  The portion was very large, probably best shared.  I thought the flavor was good, and the noodles were firm, but it was mostly just a big plate of noodles.  Good.

The bill:  just under $30.

Regular Meal #2
OK, maybe this doesn't exactly qualify as a regular meal.  However, I noticed a couple of interesting items on the menu, and was hooked.  What seemed so interesting?  Congee.  A thin rice porridge, it's felt to be a healthy dish, appropriate after one has been eating or drinking too well for a few days.  Kind of like thin oatmeal.  However, meat, chicken, fish, and other ingredients may be added to congee.  I chose to add pork and preserved egg.  The egg, sometimes called century egg or thousand year egg, is preserved in an alkaline solution.  Wikipedia has a good explanation

The verdict?  Not bad.  As expected, it was pretty bland, but it actually had a little texture.  The pork gave it some flavor, and the preserved egg was interesting.  I don't know if I'd order it again, but I'm glad I tried it once.

I had planned to try an unusual dessert - sweet potato porridge with sago - but the huge bowl of congee had filled me up.  Maybe next time.

The bill:  under $20.

Red 8 isn't bad, but it also isn't that good.  Perhaps its menu is too ambitious ("Jack of all trades, master of none").  Perhaps I've been spoiled by all the excellent restaurants at Wynn.  In any case, I was hoping for better.  Nonetheless, it's convenient and not too expensive - and I don't know if there's any place better in this category.

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