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MR. CHOW

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Caesars Palace

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702-731-7888

website

$50-$100

Sun-Thu 5-10pm

Fri-Sat 5-10:30pm

Chinese

B+

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A Vegas version of the upscale Chinese restaurant in London, Beverly Hills, and New York; institutions that have been around for decades.

Where is it?

At Caesars Palace on the Center Strip.

What kind of food is served?

Classic an contemporary Chinese cuisine.

What is the atmosphere like?

Mostly stark white with big windows overlooking the pool area and a weird sculpture thingy that comes down from the ceiling.

How is the service?

Super luxurious - this feels like fine dining.

What are the prices like?

Much more expensive than your typical Chinese takeout.

What else do I need to know?

They have a champagne cart with plenty of high end bubbly available.

What's the bottom line?

A first-class experience.

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FULL REVIEW

You're forgiven if you have never heard of Mr. Chow. Although the restaurant has been around for decades - in London since 1968, Beverly Hills since 1973, and New York since 1979 - it isn't as much of a household name as say Wolfgang Puck's Spago or Emeril Lagasse's, well, anything. But the key thing you need to know is that it is considered to be one of the finest of fine dining experiences anywhere, serving elegant Chinese cuisine in a manner befitting of the rich and famous who dine there.

The Vegas version of the restaurant takes over the old Empress Court space on the second floor of Caesars Palace overlooking the pool. It's a stark white affair with only a few pops of color here and there. It left me a little cold and the hard wooden backs of the chairs left me a little uncomfortable but not so much that it detracted from the food.

Above the dining room is this odd "kinetic sculpture," with three white panels that raise and lower, open and close, and change colors with lighting periodically throughout the evening. It reminded me of a space ship or one of those eggs in the movie "Alien." I'm not sure what the point of it is other than to have something on the ceiling other than a mural or giant chandelier, either of which would've given some warmth to the room in my humble opinion.

The menu is basically divided between appetizers and main courses, most of which are served "family style," encouraging sharing. You can create your own mix and match experience with as many dishes as you want but do consider the "semi" prix fixe, where for a set price each person at the table gets one appetizer and one entree of their choice. It's a good way to sample a little of a lot for a price that will most likely save you a few bucks over ordering the same dishes ala carte.

Appetizers include dishes like chicken satay, shrimp roll, Chinese spare ribs, salt and pepper prawns, water or meat dumplings, rice noodles, and more. We sampled the potstickers, which came all connected with a lacy shell of sorts, the minced beef pancakes, and the signature Mr. Chow's noodles. The latter is basically spaghetti with meat sauce and celery, but better than it sounds with tender, handmade noodles and a rich sauce. It was the winner in this particular derby but the others were good, too. The pancakes were a little underwhelming at first but they were helped with the insanely hot chili sauce provided. Warning: a little goes a long way.

For entrees they offer a wide variety of seafood, pork, beef, poultry, and vegetarian options. We went with the Chicken Joanna, a tender breast sauteed to perfection in wine and garlic; the traditional sweet and sour pork with green peppers and pineapple; and the nine seasons prawns, done in a deliciously tangy and sweet sauce that made a believer even out of the non-seafood eaters at the table (that would be me).

Other options include steamed sea bass; dressed Dungeness crab in a "cloud" of egg whites; beef with oyster sauce; fiery beef; lamb with spring onion; their signature Beijing Duck roasted to order and carved at the table; and more.

Desserts are not to be missed. We tried the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and the chocolate mousse and loved every bite.

The service was exceptional throughout the meal, starting with a veritable army of people seating you and then a parade bringing dishes throughout the night. Everyone was friendly and knowledgeable about the dishes - we felt like we were in good hands.

Of course this kind of luxe experience does not come cheaply. The total for the three of us with the prix fixe menu of $62 per person (there are more expensive options), two drinks, two desserts, tax, and tip was about $330. That's a lot of money for any kind of food much less Chinese, which most people are used to getting out of paper containers delivered to your door. I'm not saying it wasn't worth it - the overall experience is memorable and the food is very good - but there are probably other places I'd spend $110 per person that would be higher on my list.

But in the end, nobody does upscale Chinese cuisine like Mr. Chow and no place does it with a weird space ship sculpture overhead.

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