MoZen Brunch, Las Vegas

Buffets in Vegas tend to be quantity over quality. Mountains of overcooked prime rib, piles of cold shrimp, and miles of pre-made salads sitting under sneeze guards. Now, I’m not anti buffet – quite the opposite. There is a time and a place for buffets. You just don’t go there if you want a top-notch meal with attention to details and excellent service.

Unless, of course, you go to the brunch buffet at MoZen.

The Mandarin Oriental is, I believe, a harbinger of things to come in Las Vegas. It has no casino, has service that is comparable with the finest 5 star hotels in the country, and has a spa that is absolutely to die for. It also has MoZen, a modern American restaurant that draws inspiration from India, Singapore, Japan, and other Asian countries. It serves brunch on Sundays only, and includes a small luxury buffet, passed small dishes, and an entrée all for the price of $57.

The atmosphere is serene and sunny, almost as if you were at a Californian spa retreat rather than right in the heart of Sin City.

The buffet, set up along the side and back of the restaurant, includes breakfast pastries, fruit, yogurt, cheeses, meats,

freshly made sushi,

and a fantastic raw bar. The oysters are shucked right before your eyes, and the ones that I had were large, briny, and mildly salty. The crab legs were even better. Sweet and succulent, they were as delicious as crab that I have had on the San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf. I enjoyed both with some tart cocktail sauce that wasn’t spicy enough, but at least wasn’t sickly sweet.

The spicy tuna sushi also deserves special mention. Sashimi and sushi can be made to order, and even when it isn’t it is made so frequently that it is very fresh. The rice is sticky but not mushy, the nori is crisp and nutty, and the spicy tuna is the perfect blend of hot Sriracha, creamy mayonnaise, and lush tuna.

Though the raw bar alone would have made this worthwhile, there is more.

Passed dishes included a peanutty Kung Pao chicken

and a greaseless calamari with spicy peppers.

THEN, you get to order an entrée.

Paneer Curry with Naan, Daal, and Rice

This was really unexpected. I was thinking I would get a very “obviously” Indian dish, with a garlic-and-red-pepper heavy sauce and a few blocks of dried out paneer. Instead, I got a small bowl filled with a tangy, pungent sauce filled with tomatoes, sautéed onions, and sweet peas. Though there was definitely some heat and garlic, the favors here focused on the tangy and sweet – a bit too sweet for my tastes, but at least it was not overtly heavy on the spice and cumin. It was multifaceted and filled with creamy and fresh paneer.

The rice was standard but the daal was excellent – very smoky and filled with lentils and kidney beans.

The naan was also top notch, slick with ghee and fragrant with garlic and cilantro. Pillowy and well charred, it was perfect to sop up the remnants of the pungent curry.

Hokkaido Scallops with Artichokes

Another winning entrée. The scallops almost tasted as if they were cooked sous vide, then just momentarily seared. They were almost exceedingly velvety and buttery, and the artichokes were succulent, earthy counterparts to them.

If you have room, you may wish to check out the desert buffet, wich is small but excellent.  Don’t look for synthetic soft serve ice cream or dried out cherry pie here. Instead…

choose from passionfruit panna cotta, strawberry cheesecake mousse, and vanilla madeleines.

The raspberry vanilla petit fours were the highpoint of dessert and one of the highpoint of the meal. Vanilla-scented white chocolate cracked to reveal moist poundcake and thin layers of tart raspberry jam. A really perfect bite of rich sweetness, just enough to cleanse the palate and end the meal.

MoZen really is the anti-buffet. It is small, with limited seating and buffet items made to order. There is very attentive waiter service and you are more likely to see a business lunch there than a hungover group of The Hangover fans.

The price is high, but if you eat enough oysters, you can rationalize it.

Hey, it’s Vegas…you can rationalize anything.

Mozen Bistro (Mandarin Oriental) on Urbanspoon

Comments

  1. hungry says:

    Vegas is one of the few places that I’m willing to go for a buffet meal.

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