Din Tai Fung Expands Soup Dumpling Empire to Las Vegas at ARIA Resort & Casino

Din Tai Fung Las Vegas
Din Tai Fung Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (November 11, 2019) – The soup dumplings once described by the late Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold as “small miracles” will find a new home as Din Tai Fung announces its first Las Vegas location, joining the stellar culinary line-up at ARIA Resort & Casino in 2020.

Up to 15% Off Hotel Rooms At Aria Las Vegas

The esteemed Taiwanese dumpling and noodle house, with more than 170 restaurants in 13 countries, will debut in the former ARIA Café space mid-to-late next year.

ARIA President & COO Steve Zanella said, “We are thrilled to welcome Din Tai Fung to ARIA as they work alongside our talented restaurant employees to deliver a new culinary experience to our resort.  Both teams are known for their world-class service standards and we know the synergy will be impeccable when the restaurant opens next year.”

“Din Tai Fung consistently provides superior food and service, positioning the venue as one of the most sought-after brands in the world,” said MGM Resorts International Chief Hospitality Officer Ari Kastrati. “We welcome their team to our culinary portfolio as they provide ARIA’s guests with a renowned menu full of exciting offerings.”

Din Tai Fung is celebrated from Taipei to Los Angeles for meticulously handcrafted dumplings and noodles served in an approachable setting. Renowned for its Xiao Long Bao, Din Tai Fung’s Shanghai-style soup dumplings are filled with the highest quality Kurobuta pork and broth that bursts upon the first bite, fragranced with aromas of fresh ginger and green onion.

Up to 15% Off Hotel Rooms At Aria Las Vegas

Din Tai Fung CEO Frank Yang said, “We are excited to bring Din Tai Fung to Las Vegas’ international clientele. We will be leveraging our 20 years of experience perfecting our operations in other markets to provide an authentic yet modern Taiwanese dining experience. Our attention to detail and commitment to the highest standard in both service and food quality is, no doubt, a perfect match for ARIA.”

Additional details on Din Tai Fung will be made available in the coming months.

Burger Lounge To Open At Aria This March

Burger Lounge

California’s Burger Lounge will replace The Roasted Bean near the poker room and sports book at Aria. The restaurant will open in March.

This is another quick-serve burger restaurant that uses fresh ingredients. These kinds of restaurants seem to be opening on a regular basis in Vegas. Regardless, another burger is coming to Vegas. Can’t complain about that.

You can read more information in the press release below:

LAS VEGAS (January 28, 2016) – Beloved fast-casual concept Burger Lounge is coming to the Las Vegas culinary community with the debut of its first-ever Nevada location at ARIA Resort & Casino this March. The Southern California burger chain takes the classic burger and elevates it with clean ingredients and flavors that pack a punch.

“Burger Lounge is a high quality fast-casual concept that adds a fun culinary experience to our resort’s dining portfolio,” said ARIA Vice President of Food and Beverage Josef Wagner. “We appreciate the restaurant’s focus on sustainability and their dedication to creating a stronger food movement through the use of healthy ingredients and produce. We’re proud to introduce the brand to our clientele.”

At the heart of the Burger Lounge brand is the belief a hamburger should not only taste great, but that the guest should feel good about eating it. With that in mind, burgers start with fresh American grass-fed, grass-finished beef, perfectly seared and served on a toasted handmade bun. With the addition of crisp lettuce, tomato, organic aged white cheddar and house-made Thousand Island dressing, the restaurant delivers one seriously good hamburger.

But, lest you think it’s all about the taste, the Burger Lounge team has some serious sustainability cred as well. The chain’s core business model – to start with fresh, non-GMO ingredients and to build mutually beneficial relationships with ethical suppliers – has resonated throughout the brand from day one.

Burger Lounge Co-Founder J. Dean Loring said, “Establishing meaningful partnerships with sustainable ranchers and farmers has been a part of our model from the beginning. Not only does our food taste better, but creating demand for those suppliers ultimately helps change the American food model for the better.”

With roots in La Jolla, California, Burger Lounge has grown into a quirky and beloved West Coast brand, partnering with ranches and farms across the U.S. to source the best quality meats, cheeses and vegetables. The grass-fed beef comes from Grass-Run Farms, a collaboration of family farms that raise cattle without antibiotics, hormones or growth promotants.

In addition to grass-fed beef, the burger line-up includes a free-range turkey burger made with fresh basil, a healthy organic quinoa veggie burger and a long line-caught albacore burger. Never frozen, the patties are topped with creamy organic cheese, hand-chopped vegetables and a variety of house-made dressings. The signature Lounge Bun is baked daily and delivered by local bakeries. For the gluten-free guest, fluffy gluten-free buns and a secret menu item known as the Paleo Burger are available upon request.

Photo: Flickr/Gregg Tomlinson

New Name For Monte Carlo, Excalibur Expansion, Crystals For Sale, REIT and More From MGM Resorts Earnings Call

Jim Murren, CEO MGM Resorts
Jim Murren

Earlier today I listened to the MGM Resorts quarterly earnings call. The company has so much going on that they’re easily the most fascinating of the Vegas casino companies to follow.

You can read press releases and listen to the MGM quarterly earnings call here for specifics. Below are my notes with lots of information.

  • Jim Murren said MGM would like to participate in DFS in the future. They’re waiting for clarity in the area. This was last question asked if you’d like specifics.
  • Excalibur is underperforming and Jim Murren discussed idea of mid-scale retail expansion on the Vegas Strip to draw people into property.
  • Murren restated that Monte Carlo will have a new name next year. Outlook is very optimistic for the property.
  • Small note given to the fact that customer booking windows are growing
  • Crystals still on the market by MGM Resorts. There’s plenty of interest. They’re sorting through investors. Murren says it’s worth over $1 billion.
  • Mandalay Bay now has the 5th largest convention center in the US after recent expansion. Details on the expansion here.
  • 2016 should be best year ever for conventions at MGM Resorts. Even with Mandalay Bay expansion they still don’t expect to have enough capacity.
  • Press release on MGM REIT
  • MGM Resorts keeping 2 most profitable properties in Las Vegas out of the REIT (Bellagio & MGM Grand).
  • MGM REIT will be called MGM Growth Properties and be a separate stock offering planned for Q1 2016.
  • MGM Arena not part of REIT because it’s a partnership with AEG. REIT doesn’t include any partnerships like City Center.
  • Non-luxury MGM Resorts properties growing faster than luxury. For example REVPAR for non-luxury up 14%, lux up 6%
  • Aria hotel EBITA up 23% Year over Year. Vdara 0ver 40% EBITA increase.
  • MGM Detroit EBITA only ranks behind Bellagio, MGM Grand & Mandalay Bay. Better than The Mirage, New York New York, etc.
  • MGM hotel rooms had a 96% occupancy rate last quarter. Up 1% from same period last year.
  • Average Daily Room rate for MGM hotels was $141 last quarter. That’s up $10 (8%) from same time last year.
  • Circus Circus is interesting opportunity for MGM seemingly because it’s 100 acres of land on the Vegas Strip.

Mandalay Bay Sports Book On Deck For Renovations

Mandalay Bay Sports Book
Mandalay Bay Sports Book

Hidden deep inside an awesome #LongRead article called “Evolution of The Sportsbook” on Covers last week was a nugget about which MGM Resorts hotel will renovate their sports book next.

Technically it won’t be next since Monte Carlo is closing and moving their sports book but it looks like Mandalay Bay is on deck for some well deserved changes.

Rood said Mandalay Bay will hopefully get that treatment next spring or summer, with a completion date ahead of the 2016 football season.

This isn’t a proclamation that Mandalay Bay will definitely have their sports book updated but it does fit into a timeline I heard about last year. This would make sense since for MGM Resorts as they’ve updated almost every facet of Mandalay Bay in the past few years (See Delano here, Mandalay Bay here).

A Mandalay Bay renovation would also make sense since MGM Resorts has renovated their other larger sports books at The Mirage, Bellagio, Aria and (soon) Monte Carlo, in the past few years.

The Mandalay Bay sports book space is huge and could be great but is very very dated. The TV screens and seating may be the same from when the property opened in 1999.

The Mandalay Bay sports book ushered in a whole new VIP level of sports book experience years ago. They were one of the first sports books, if not the first, in Vegas to offer bottle service (see Vegas Chatter article). You now see this type of VIP service available at many different sports books around Vegas.

Photo: ATI-AV

Random Vegas Info From MGM Resorts

Random Vegas Info from MGM Resorts
Random Vegas Info from MGM Resorts

I’m easily amused. I find random information like the infographic above and the notes below fun and relatively useful. Thanks to this blog post you can now amaze your friends with useless Vegas knowledge from MGM Resorts like:

“Hey, did you know that Nine Fine Irishmen at New York-New York served 100,000 pints of Guinness?”

  • 7,982,550 pillows fluffed at MGM Grand
  • 3.2 million people who visited The Adventuredome at Circus Circus
  • 1 million Hershey’s Kisses distributed across Las Vegas to celebrate the opening of Hershey’s Chocolate World at New York-New York 
  • 729,753 pizza slices served at Shawn McClain’s FIVE50 Pizza Bar at ARIA
  • 267,436 toilet paper rolls used by the Blue Man Group at Monte Carlo
  • 100,000 pints of Guinness gulped at New York-New York’s Nine Fine Irishmen
  • 96,719 pounds of crab legs cracked at The Buffet at ARIA
  • 52,640 massages and facials enjoyed at Spa Bellagio
  • 46,363 margaritas sipped at Hecho en Vegas at MGM Grand
  • 34,580 costume changes by the Jabbawockeez at Luxor
  • 11,336 shows performed by The Fountains of Bellagio
  • 8,464 ice cream flavor combinations offered at BLVD Creamery since its May 2014 opening at Monte Carlo
  • 5,704 corks collected at Rock ‘n Roll Wine Amplified Festival at MGM Resorts Village
  • 5,472 roses distributed by Boyz II Men during “I’ll Make Love to You” at The Mirage
  • $5,000 – The most expensive dish purchased; 26 Fleurburgers sold at Fleur in Mandalay Bay
  • 1,117 ice buckets in the shape of FDR’s hat box, in the suites at Delano Las Vegas
  • 520 victories at Excalibur’s Tournament of Kings
  • 360 pounds of caviar spooned at The Buffet Bellagio
  • 3 new white lion cubs at Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage


Love The Cosmo Wrap Around Suites? Live There For $1.3 Million

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Suite
Cosmopolitan Suite

Love the wrap around suites at the Cosmopolitan? Well, you can buy one in the East Tower for a cool mil from Caldwell Banker.

THE ONLY EAST TOWER UNIT FOR SALE! Fabulous panoramic views from Corner Wrap Around Terrace Suite unit, Views Facing South & West. 456 s/f balcony overlooks The Cosmopolitan pools, City Center, Bellagio. Rental Program & Condo-Hotel. Enjoy a Las Vegas Blvd. address at The Cosmopolitan, Platinum status membership, VIP owner privileges.

Unfortunately this condo at the Cosmo faces south and west so you don’t get to see the fountains at Bellagio or anything on the Vegas Strip heading north. In my opinion facing north on the strip is much nicer.

In addition to the lesser view you are low enough where you may hear music from concerts at the Boulevard Pool. Of course, that might also be great. Here’s a tour a wrap around suite facing north.

If you’re looking to live in the middle of the action of the Vegas Strip you might get more bang for your buck at Veer Towers. Unlike a condo at Cosmo, you won’t have a casino right downstairs at Veer. You’ll have to put your shoes on and walk all the way to Aria.

H/T @Mac78130

MGM Las Vegas Specials And Happy Hours

Stella Artois Video Poker Bar At Red Rock Las Vegas

I don’t normally write about individual casino specials but the MGM Resorts in Las Vegas have too much going on to share with a single tweet and the info is worth sharing. The first thing I learned is that Aria has a blog called Taste Of Aria. Taste of Aria isn’t necessary reading per se, but it has good info if you’re planning to visit Aria or Las Vegas. Earlier this week they detailed all of the Happy Hour deals at Aria. Here’s the only one with a price attached.

Nothing compliments a mouth-watering slice of pizza like an ice cold beer and Five50’s Happy Hour brings the two together in perfect harmony. Starting at 5:00 pm, a specialty beer will be $.50 until 5:50 pm daily!

Since there are no specialty beers mentioned by name I’d assume Aria means Miller Light (UPDATE: Vegas Chatter says that it’s Goose Island beer. Not bad!). Still, it’s a beer for 50 cents. You don’t see many deals like that for any kind of beer on the Vegas Strip.

MGM Resorts International still uses the MGM-Mirage URL for their blog and recently posted locals discounts for Vegas residents and their various Happy Hour deals. Here’s a look at Mandalay Bay. You can see the other MGM Resorts specials here.

Happy Hours

  • Stripsteak 4pm – 6pm daily. $7 food items, $3 Beer and $6 Well Cocktails.

  • Fleur by Hubert Keller 4pm – 6pm daily. $4 domestic select beer, $6 house wine, and $6 well cocktails.

  • Aureole 5:30pm – 7pm. $4 domestic select beer, $6 house wine, and $6 well cocktails.

  • miX Lounge 5pm-7pm. 25% off lounge food and drink menus.

  • House of Blues 2pm – 5pm daily. $3 domestic beer, $4 house wine, and $5 call cocktails.

  • RM Seafood downstairs lounge 3pm-7pm, $3 domestic beer, $7 well drinks, ½ priced seasonal cocktail specials & select sushi.

  • RM Seafood upstairs lounge 5:30pm-7pm Tues-Sat. $4-$9 unique small bites, $4 craft beers, and $8 signature cocktails.

  • Mizuya 2pm – 5pm daily. $8 selected sushi, $3 beer, and $7 cocktails.

  • Charlie Palmer Steak 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Tues-Sat. Complimentary Sommelier’s choice wine pairing with purchase of any small plate.

  • Verandah 4pm-7pm daily. Choose from five specialty cocktails & five small plates for $5 each.

  • Burger Bar 4pm-7pm Sun-Thur. $3 beer selection, $6.95 food selection and $6 cocktail selection.

  • Slice of Vegas 3pm-6pm Mon-Thur. $4 PBR Pints, $4 Absolut Captain Morgan and Jameson Cocktails.

  • Hussong’s Cantina 4pm-6pm Mon-Thur. Buy One, Get One draft Beer. Buy One, Get One Traditional Margaritas.

  • Rira Irish Pub 3pm-6pm Mon-Fri. $4 Carlsberg & Heineken drafts, $3 domestic bottles, $5 house wine and $6 Smirnoff cosmopolitans.

Some of these Happy Hour’s and discounts are better than others but it’s a nice excuse to add a visit to any of the specific hotels. When I used to vacation in Vegas the only plans I’d make with friends were around dinner so we could spend an hour together catching up on the events of the last 24 hours. These specials are a good way to get the night started a little early. Viva Las Vegas!

Aria Marquee Is A Symbol Of The Changing Vegas Strip

Aria Marquee At Night
Aria Marquee At Night

I find a lot of things in the Vegas media funny. Las Vegas is the #42 television market but plenty of people in the media and marketing departments acts as if Vegas is a top 5 market. When I saw press releases and news stories about the Aria marquee I laughed. It’s a sign. In what major market does mainstream (and non-mainstream) media go nuts over a sign? None.

I’ve seen the Aria marquee a handful of times and just thought it was another sign and nothing really special. It’s just a sign but how I thought about the Aria marquee changed a few weeks ago when I was driving to New York-New York to meet a friend for a drink. I was passing the Aria marquee around dusk and it was almost magical.

The mall across the street on the Harmon Corner has a bright huge sign that’s more annoying than useful or interesting since it’s all advertising. I don’t need or want to see advertising that big. It’s distracting and dangerous. The Cosmopolitan has a pretty cool marquee by the boulevard pool but that’s because the content on it is interesting. Sometimes you’ll see ads for the hotel and other times you can see concerts. The concept is great but the marquee is tiny compared to the Aria marquee. You can fit about 4 marquees from the Cosmo inside of the Aria marquee.

The Aria marquee is huge and juts out onto the strip. When I passed by the Aria marquee it was showing casino chips and other cool video snippets like the astronaut above. There was nothing obscene or overly promotional on the sign. It’s just a cool big sign that’s as obnoxiously large as you’d expect from the Vegas Strip (for better or worse).

The Aria marquee isn’t the dawn of the new Vegas strip but it is a sign (pun intended) that a new strip is coming.

Between the giant ferris wheel of The Linq being built across the street from Caesars PalaceThe Quad vortex lighting being installed right now, Gansevoort construction across the street from Bally’s and the park area in between New York-New York and Monte Carlo there is a lot of construction on the Vegas strip. This doesn’t even touch on the north strip construction going on.

The Aria marquee reminded me about all of this and also reminded me that the way see the strip will change drastically over the next few years. Enjoy the memory of the Vegas strip you grew up with because it will be drastically different by this time next year.

The Vegas Strip Of The Future Will Feel More Like A Strip Mall

Las Vegas Is Becoming A Strip Mall
Strip Mall!

I grew up in the Bronx, NY. We didn’t have malls. We had stores on streets and even had a few shopping centers. I had to drive 20-30 minutes to the nearest mall. It was like a whole other world. I wouldn’t say it was awesome but it was different and that was cool. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I knew what a strip mall was.

Strip malls weren’t cool then, have never been cool and aren’t cool now. That doesn’t matter in Las Vegas. Vegas is the greatest place on earth but it’s never really been “cool”. That’s okay. Caesars Entertainment has been developing The Linq over the past year and that should be finished by the end of the year. Call it what you want but The Linq is essentially a glorified strip mall set between casinos.

Caesars Entertainment is also developing the Bally’s Grand Bazaar (details here and here) a little bit south on the strip from The Linq. Now Vegas Tripping is reporting that MGM Resorts will be creating The Park even further south on the Vegas strip in the area around Monte Carlo and New York New York.

We can confirm that the park will occupy Rue de Monte Carlo, including the CityCenter sales office and the entire parking lot behind and between New York New York and Monte Carlo.

Further, Vegas Tripping has details on the strip renovations planned for Monte Carlo. While The Linq will have a ferris wheel as the anchor of the shopping area The Park will have a brand spanking new arena that MGM Resorts is building in conjunction with AEG. A little north of Monte Carlo you’ll find Crystals mall next to Aria at the area formerly known as CityCenter.

My graphic skills are pretty bad but the future Vegas strip will look something like this:

Shopping > Casino > Shopping > Casino > Shopping > Casino > Shopping > Casino  

It sure seems like Vegas is remaking itself more towards being a family destination then it has since they started theming hotels in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Great…more kids. I’m not the typical Vegas customer but that’s not what I want from Vegas.

Photo: Warren Temple Smith

Fanciest Hotels and Restaurants In Las Vegas

Every year AAA releases it’s lists of best hotels and restaurants in America and ranks them by Diamonds with 5 Diamonds being the best. 4 Diamonds is still excellent but 5 Diamonds is the pinnacle of luxury. Las Vegas tied with New York City for the most luxury resorts for one city.

Those getting the designation are Aria, Aria Sky Suites, Bellagio, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand, Venetian, and Palazzo. Las Vegas’s Five Diamond restaurants are Joel Robuchon from MGM, Guy Savoy from Caesars Palace, and Le Cirque and Picasso from Bellagio.

According to AAA less than one half of one percent of hotels and restaurants in America receive this distinction so this really makes these the restaurants the finest dining and these hotels the most luxurious.

I’ve only stayed at Venetian and Palazzo and while I can understand why The Palazzo can be a premier resort The Venetian seems to be showing a little wear and tear.

Most, if not all, of these hotels have been on the 5 Diamond list before. There are just a few hotels that are noticeably absent from this list beginning with Wynn and Encore. I think a few years of catering to a younger, more nightclub oriented, crowd have taken its tole on the once premier hotel in Las Vegas.

The other hotel missing from this list is the Cosmopolitan. You know, the “The Best Hotel In The World“. Not so much.

The only 5 Diamond hotels on this list that I want to stay in are Aria and Bellagio. I’ve been in the Aria rooms and thought that they were very nicely put together and I want to stay there even though I don’t like the casino.

Bellagio is one of my favorite casinos in Las Vegas but I’ve never stayed there. Bellagio just finished renovating their rooms so it seems like the right time to check it out. If all goes well playing MyVegas I’ll see one of them on March 23.

You can find all Diamond Ratings on AAA.com.

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr