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LEMONGRASS STRAIGHT FROM THAILAND

ARIA Resort & Casino Brings Bangkok to The Strip With Dishes Both Classic and Modern

As the first Thai restaurant on The Strip to reside in elite resort environs, Lemongrass, now open at ARIA Resort & Casino, travels far beyond the standard. The casual-chic restaurant tutors guests in faithfully authentic flavors, serving the best modern dishes from contemporary Bangkok alongside pitch-perfect renditions of classic favorites. Chef Krairit Krairavee brings spices and sauces straight from Southeast Asia, to ensure the genuineness of Thailand’s inimitable flavor fusions. An interactive satay bar lines the dining room, affording guests a front-row view of char-grilled preparations, while a lounge welcomes guests to relax for a cocktail or a full meal. Designed by James Beard Award Winner AvroKo, the contemporary interiors are reminiscent of a traditional Thai silk factory with a combination of raw fibers, textured fabrics and rough industrial materials weaving a backdrop at once elegant and accessible.

Krairavee joins Lemongrass directly from Bangkok, where he was executive chef at Nest, the rooftop restaurant of one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, Le Fenix. Trained in both Thailand and the Netherlands, he is one of Southeast Asia’s premier chefs. He has prepared dinners for the Moroccan Royal Palace and VVIPs of APEC (Asian-Pacific Economic Conference), taken second place in the Thailand Super Chef contest and appeared on prestigious cooking shows in Thailand, including “Iron Chef” and “Idol Chef.”

At Lemongrass, Krairavee introduces the authentic dishes he served back home and surprises guests with more modern creations of his own design. Seasonings, herbs and sauces provide the core of each dish and are imported directly from Bangkok. Tiger prawns are flown from Asia as well, and Japan contributes Kurobuta pork for grilling. Other meats, seafood and produce essential to the menu’s complex list of ingredients are sourced locally from California’s fertile grounds and waters. Imperative to Thai cuisine, grilling methods must be unerring. Krairavee dismisses convenient gas burners in favor of the umami-releasing genius of Binchō-tan charcoal. Brought from Wakayama Prefecture in Japan, it burns hot with no discernable aroma and is considered the world’s most exclusive charcoal.

The judiciously composed menu offers the highlights of ancient Siam and modern Thailand with appetizers, salads & soups, curries, main courses, rice dishes and noodles. A house signature appetizer, Lemongrass Prawns, blends prawn mousse with lemongrass, black pepper and galangal and deep fries it into crunchy cakes with plum sauce for dipping. Another specialty, Salmon Spring Roll, pays homage to western influence, with basil cut by the distinctly American sharpness of cheddar cheese. Salads are time-honored takes on Thailand’s favorite spicy-sweet contrast, such as Spicy Papaya Salad with grilled marinated chicken and coconut rice, and more modern designs from Krairavee, like Yam Nuea Yang, a Grilled Beef Salad of rib-eye prepared with mint and grapes. Curries come in the classic colors of yellow, green and red, as well as creamy Panaeng-style, here with duck, ground peanut and lychee.

Black Pepper Prawns present a standout among main courses, and Asia’s distinctive tamarind fruit makes a tangy sweet-and-sour sauce for grilled rib-eye Beef Steak with mushrooms. Another Lemongrass specialty, Fried Rice with Soft Shell Crab, won’t be found anywhere else in Las Vegas, while the signature noodle dish, Drunken Noodles with Seafood, doesn’t spare the heat for which Thai food is famous. This fiery affair of stir-fried rice noodles is made more complex by the unusual, piquancy of gkranchai (also called rhizome or lesser ginger), known to enhance the essence of seafood.

Desserts offer a cooling lift, vital to both the humid heat of Thailand and the dry, baked desert. “Icebergs” of shaved ice are flavored with milk and sweet syrup, such as coconut, sweet corn, black jelly or jackfruit. And Red Ruby is a visually inviting treat of water chestnut cubes in coconut milk and syrup, where they float like sparkling gems.

Lemongrass’ wine list covers an impressive international range, with emphasis on more subtle vintages that pair best with Thai spices, like Riesling and Pinot Noir. Refreshing Thai beers are also available, and the restaurant’s signature beverage is Lemongrass Ice Tea.

Design elements, conceived by AvroKo, draw on the celebrated cultural history of Thailand’s silk production. Juxtaposing the rough industrial aspects of a traditional silk factory against the frailty of raw fibers and un-dyed fabrics, the interior manifests its experiential vision of a modern Asian restaurant. Flanking the entrance to the casual, 51-seat lounge, fabric “ladders” are draped with sumptuous sheers of raw silk and linen. Inside, unusual architecture shares a skylight with the baccarat area, and a glazed brick wall of yellow-gold (Thailand’s holy color) signifies good luck to guests. At the bar, an Asian wooden screen has been fashioned into a back-bar, with built-in cubbies and cabinets to display exotic teas, and a dangling light fixture mimics the round hand-looms used for spinning raw silk, thickly wrapped in thread-like strands. Wooden tables and slate floors accentuate the casual ambience of this cozy bar, where guests can stop for a quick drink or order a full dinner. In the 100-seat dining room, four of AvroKo’s hand-loom fixtures dangle over the tables, here fashioned in square versions. Banquettes of dark leather line the walls and the interactive satay bar, where guests can watch grilling and noodle preparations, displays another backlit Asian screen. Two private dining rooms sit 10 each, with a partition wall that can adjoin the room for parties of 20.

Located on ARIA’s casino floor adjacent to the baccarat tables, Lemongrass intensifies Las Vegas’ sophisticated culinary landscape with the gourmet gusto of Southeast Asia. The restaurant and lounge are open for both lunch and dinner.

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Media Contact:
Andrea Brown
MGM Resorts International
(702) 650-7534
abrown@mgmresorts.com