Restaurant: Wing Lei (Chinese Restaurant)
Last visited: August 17, 2010
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada (On the strip – inside The Wynn)
Address: 3131 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Price Range: $50USD +
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Contemporary Chinese cuisine
- 1 Michelin Star restaurant
- AAA Four Diamond Award of Excellence
- “Best Chinese Restaurant” – Las Vegas Life Mag
- Executive Chef Ming Yu
- Blend of Cantonese, Shanghai, Szechuan cuisine
- Famous for Peking Duck
- Seasonal menus
- Chef’s specialty menu available upon request
- Good for groups
- Set menus available
- Full wine bar
- Reservations recommended
- Dinner only 5:30-10pm
- Casual business attire
**Recommendations: Come to Vancouver
Wing Lei is a fine dining Chinese restaurant located on the strip at The Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Wing” is a play on the hotel name “Wynn” and together “Wing Lei” means eternal prosperity. It serves a mix of Cantonese, Shanghainese and Szechuan cuisine and they pretty much took the classic favourites from each and put it on the menu. Wing Lee is modeled off of the best Chinese restaurants found in Hong Kong hotels and the food is finely executed for the most part. The atmosphere is gorgeous, the staff is in Armani uniforms, and the food is generally good, but overrated and overpriced.
Honestly, I can’t call Wing Lei authentic Chinese cuisine and I’m not sure if they claim to be as they do mention that their style has French influence. The authentic dishes are quite authentic, but there’s definitely some fusion going on with some of the dishes and I can confidently say that Chinese food is the best in Vancouver, BC. I am so lucky to live here… there… ? I would define it as contemporary Chinese and I was more impressed with the non-traditional dishes because I had nothing to compare them too.
I wasn’t necessarily disappointed and the food wasn’t horrible, but it was no different than good Chinese food I could get anywhere else in Vancouver. I could even get it better for 1/4 of the price… mind you, you are paying for the overall ambiance and experience of dining at Wing Lei – a “1 Michelin Star restaurant” that’s also “the best Chinese restaurant in Las Vegas” and a “AAA Four Diamond Award of Excellent for 2008, 2009, and 2010.” So did those titles make a difference for me? Not so much… I don’t know maybe it’s because I’m way too familiar with the culture and the food to know that there’s better. I also wasn’t in charge of ordering this meal, but was open to seeing how this “best Chinese restaurant in Las Vegas” would compare.
On the table:
**Lychee Blosson Martini – 5/6
- Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka, Soho Lychee Liqueur, Lychee Puree, Sweet & Sour $16USD
- This was delicious. It’s their signature drink, a classic martini that’s very strong, but also quite sweet and fruity so it’s very dangerous. It’s very floral and it probably would have been better if the lychee fruit was more in season, but still one of the best lychee martini’s I’ve had.
- Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, Grand Marnier, Sweet and Sour, Hisbiscus Syrup, Mint, Club Soda $14USD
- Minty, floral, sweet and tangy, slightly carbonated with orange and cranberry like notes served with a candied Hibiscus flower. Equally as delicious as the lychee martini and just as dangerous.
- Mesclun lettuce, slivered almonds, mandarins, peanut-truffle vinaigrette $14USD
- This is not Chinese at all, it’s Chinese meets French, but it was still good and I really liked it. I could really taste the truffle oil which also had a nuttiness that I loved and it stood out most for me. It was a combination of flavours that I didn’t expect, or have I ever tried together, but thoroughly enjoyed. It was savoury, sweet with a juicy citrus tang from the orange, bitter greens and crunchy almonds. The cup it was served in which was a pastry tart shell was hard though and I would have preferred a flaky buttery shell instead.
Crab Salad with Golden Beet Root Carpaccio – 4.5/6
- Seasonal special – Sweet Chili Soy, Lemon fish dressing $16USD
- Again, this is not Chinese at all. Never in my life have I seen beets used at a Chinese restaurant, however in this case the Euro-Asian flavours worked here as well.
- I loved the sweet tender red and yellow beets, bitter frisee with the crunchy juicy lobster marinated with a sweet and sour, yet savoury dressing with a slight chili kick at the end. It was sweet chili sauce made into a vinaigrette with some savoury light soy, pungent fish sauce and splash of lemon juice, all the flavours went together perfectly.
- Star Anise Jus $20USD (On specialty menu available upon request)
- Traditionally this would be served on a cold appetizer platter like the one here at Shun Feng, or here at Kirin, or here at Sun Sui Wah.
- The beef tendon slices at Wing Lei were a bit more marinated and coated than I’m used to. It had a sweet chili sauce that had a slight licorice flavour, but it wasn’t that spicy. I’m not a fan of beef tendon though, I always find them a bit rubbery and dry and the clear tendon part is crunchy and comes out of nowhere, so I would usually pass.
- Oyster chili vinigairette $18USD (On specialty menu available upon request)
- This was the most disappointing. This would traditionally be found on the cold appetizer platter as well along with the beef tendon slices.
- For sure I’ve had better jelly fish. It was bland and barely marinated and I couldn’t see or taste the vinaigrette at all. This was a twist on tradition because it’s usually supposed to be marinated in sugar, vinegar, salt, sesame oil and sometimes with a bit of chili flakes.
- Carved table side, steamed buns, cucumber, scallions, Hoisin sauce $78USD
- This is Wing Lei’s most popular dish and claim to fame. It’s a Peking duck that comes out on a cart and it’s carved right at your table. However this is the traditional way it’s served and if you go to any decent Chinese restaurant they will do the same. At Wing Lei they make the wraps for you before serving it and of all the times I’ve had this dish (a lot) I’ve never had it served this way. If you’re an “experienced” Peking duck diner than these were good, but you’ve probably had better.
- The duck was incredibly fatty and it was the fattiest duck I’ve had in an Imperial Peking Duck wrap. The skin was also not as crispy as I’ve had it and that’s the most important part to this dish. The duck itself was tender and juicy, but the fat wasn’t even that tender so I found it chewy and way too oily and greasy.
- The carving of the duck was also not traditional – see the Peking Duck wraps at Kirin or Empire Chinese cuisine to see how it’s usually served. I would prefer the Peking Duck wraps at Kirin, Rainflower, or Empire Chinese Cuisine, all in Vancouver, BC.
- The twist was the wrap – they used steamed buns instead of thin crepes. These steamed buns sure made these wraps more filling and they taste like thin sheets or rolled mantou (a super soft and chewy Shanghainese bread). These buns were excellent, but I would prefer the traditional crepes.
- This was the remaining duck that was served as is.
- I’m used to having the rest of the duck prepared for a lettuce wrap, and I think they still offer that as an option here.
- The duck was juicy, tender sweet and savoury, but I’ve had the skin crispier.
Wok Fried Maine Lobster & Noodles – 3.5/6
- Scallions, ginger, Sherry sauce, served in shell $68USD
- I think you have to request noodles and it’s probably an additional $15USD or so for that.
- This was good, but Chinese lobster is almost always good as long as it’s not overcooked. I’ve also had it better in Vancouver. The sauce was very simple and basic and the noodles were very mediocre. Overall I would have liked more lobster flavour in the sauce itself, the Sherry sauce just wasn’t obvious and some of the noodles were a bit dry. The lobster was tender and juicy and perfectly cooked though.
Steamed Chinese Egg Custard – 4/6
- Made with egg and preserved century egg about $28USD
- A recurring special, but not available on the regular menu.
- This dish has always been excellent, so it was not different here. It’s a 6/6 in general, but a 4/6 here.
- This is a super traditional dish that Chinese mom’s would make at home. It ‘s a typical Chinese comfort dish that is rarely served at Chinese restaurants because of it’s simplicity. It stems back from the olden days when people used to put eggs on the table as a filler because it was inexpensive and easy. It was almost the equivalent of ordering a tuna casserole. It’s good, mom usually makes it best, and it would be surprising to even see it on a fine dining menu.
- Egg custard is not a typical dish to foreigners, so it works in favour of the restaurant because it is delicious and they get credit for introducing a “new” Chinese dish.
- Despite the fact that it’s a simple dish, they actually did a decent job with it. The texture was silky smooth like tofu and I loved having the preserved century duck egg in there. The black coloured egg, a Chinese delicacy, tastes like a bland firm jelly on the outside with an extremely thick and creamy pungent egg yolk that’s slightly salty and hinders a slight vinegar aftertaste. If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out, but I grew up with it so I’m biased. My mom would put salted egg in this dish as well and some cilantro and onions, but everyone has their own interpretation.
- This one also had a lot of soy sauce and usually it comes with the soy sauce on the side so that people can put it on themselves. It was a light soy sauce and it gave the steamed egg custard a savouriness that was all very light.
- It’s rare to see at a Chinese restaurant, but Negative Space Chinese Cuisine offers one and there are excellent Japanese versions at Seto Sushi and Koto Izakaya and Robata.
Salt and Pepper Crispy Prawns – 4.5/6
- Jalapeno, crispy garlic $32USD
- This was delicious as it always is and I was actually quite impressed because it was the last thing I ate and even though it was slightly cold by then, it was still very crispy.
- On the other hand, as long as the restaurant it using fresh prawns I could easily find it just as good or even better in Vancouver, BC. The salt and pepper garlic chili seasoning is a typical Chinese flavour used to prepare deep fried seafood (I’ve even had it prepared with worms, and I can honestly say it makes everything taste better – see here). Usually there is even more crispy garlic like the Deep Fried Black Cod with Special Garlic available at dim sum from Empire Chinese Cuisine.
- The best deep fried seafood like this I’ve had is the famous Under the Bridge chili crab in Hong Kong.
- There’s no menu description, but it was scallions, bamboo shoots, snap peas and I’m pretty sure the standard garlic soy reduction.
- I have to give praise to the beef tenderloin which was very well flavoured and extremely tender. However the sauce is just your standard Chinese stir fry sauce with perhaps some fermented soy bean paste. The execution was normal so there is nothing too special about the dish besides the beef. It was very good, but you could find this at any nice Chinese restaurant that uses a high quality beef.
- Garlic, scallions, basil, sweet ginger soy reduction $28USD
- I barely remember this dish and that’s probably because it was nothing out of the ordinary. I know it was good, but also nothing that stood out. the sauce was just a typical good Asian sauce and the basil added an aromatic quality, but other than that it was as good as chicken with garlic, ginger and soy sauce. also the main ingredients in every single Asian dish…
- Scallions, chili, garlic soy reduction $32USD
- Sorry for the poor image – it was spinning around the lazy susan and last to come on the table so I didn’t want to cause a hold up.
- I’m not a huge fan of lamb, but this one wasn’t too gamey and it was really tender, soft and buttery pieces of lamb loin. It was the spiciest dish of the night and I’m sure you could find this in Vancouver although I’m not sure where yet.
- Bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, chili soy sauce $12USD
- I actually thoroughly enjoyed this dish, but I also just really love eggplant and this dish is always good to me. The portion was small, but it was a side so it’s understandable.
- What made this dish stand out was how finely executed it was which each ingredient being cut to perfection. The eggplants were really tender, soft and creamy with a slight spice and I liked the crunchiness of the vegetables.
- However the braised eggplant with chili sauce from Shanghai River in Vancouver, BC is just as good if not better. Chen’s Shanghai Kitchen and even Congee Noodle House does a good version and Tropika as well, although that’s Malaysian style.
- Garlic chili paste $12USD
- A typical dish you can find anywhere. It was just a mediocre Sichuan green bean dish and it wasn’t that spicy and could have used more garlic. I actually prefer when they sautee it with some dried shrimps. It gives it a nutty salty flavour that’s even better than this version.
- Shrimp, BBQ pork, chicken, eggs, asparagus, scallions $16USD
- This was done quite well with lots of shrimp and ingredients. The flavour was quite tasty, but no different from a regular Yang Chow Fried Rice from a good Chinese restaurant.
- The most overpriced bowl of plain white rice ever.
Really?! I mean… Really? This finally cements my thoughts about fine dining restaurants: it is more about presentation, ambiance, plating than food. Just as you mentioned, you can get all these dishes in Vancouver at a fraction of the cost. Probably even a so-so dinner in Sun Sui Wah (which is already past its prime), still beat this place. I guess, if you don’t know better, it will certainly work for you quite well. But, given our expectations and background… No.
Just in case, was that ~$20 for each serving of cold appetizers and the volume of 375mL at most?
I know of a girl who can make a really good steamed egg here in Vancouver (won’t compare it to my mom’s though, as she is not in Vancouver…) but, as you mentioned, such simple dish and being charged $28 in a restaurant???
Oh, the Hunan Spicy Lamb, go to Alvin Garden, in Imperial and Nelson (Burnaby). Just don’t forget to bring a towel! 😉
Love your Las Vegas reviews.. do you have more? I’m heading there in October for 3 days and want to get some food rec’s.
We are so lucky to have some of the best Chinese food in the world, here in Vancouver. Can’t believe the prices…guess that’s what a Michelin star can command. Kim, thanks for the recommendation( love spicy lamb).
KimHo – lol yes that was $20 for EACH cold appetizer. It was about 1 1/2 cups of jellyfish lol. hahah steamed egg custard! Yes, I will try and make that one day as well.
Vivian – Hi Vivian! Yes I do. If you click on LOCATION on my task bar at the top – click US – click LAS VEGAS and all of my Las Vegas posts will show up 🙂 I don’t have that many, but I do have some good places on there! 🙂 Firefly, and Ruffles Cafe was good and reasonably priced if you’re looking for that.