Chop Chop spices up buffet scene

Jun 3, 2003 12:01 AM

Downtown is well-known for its bargain-priced food specials such as steak and eggs, prime rib and King crab legs.

Now diners can add an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet to its reasons to trek downtown.

Open daily starting at 4 p.m., the Chop Chop Chinese Buffet at Jackie Gaughan’s Plaza Hotel serves a tempting mix of Asian specialties, made from the freshest ingredients.

The smorgasbord of Chinese dishes is the creation of Chef Tang, whose variety of offerings should satisfy the most discriminating gourmet.

One of the unique features of Chef Tang’s Chop Chop buffet is his rotating menu: the variety of specialties may vary from day to day. Indeed, in Chef Tang’s case, variety is the spice of life.

For starters, there’s a delightful Chinese Chicken Salad, a tasty medley of vegetables and chunks of chicken breast, melded together with a tangy dressing.

It’s recommended diners try the soup, as well. You can choose from either the egg flower or the hot and sour soup and, while both are delicious, the hot and sour is on the incendiary side. But if you like fire and spice, the hot and sour is ideal!

Among the entrees is a sesame seed bun, stuffed with a chicken mixture. Anyone familiar with dim sum might think they are getting a lotus-style (sweet) bun, but the surprising char su-style of filling is a nice twist.

Some of the other tasty entrees include almond chicken with vegetables, Mongolian beef, pork foo young, pork fried rice, spicy chicken wings (very tasty, and not too hot at all).

There’s also a delicious noodle dish, chow mein, made with chicken, vegetables, mushrooms and other fresh ingredients, that can serve as a meal onto itself.

A nice touch is the variety of sauces, such as plum and sweet and sour, that can be used to enhance your selections.

The Chop Chop Buffet is a quiet and soothing room, whose Chinese red walls are accented with calligraphy, brass lighting fixtures and Far Eastern artifacts.

Diners can choose from table seating, or ensconce themselves in plush, faux green leather booths.

The best news for patrons is the $8.95 price for adults; children eat for free.

Center Stage for steaks, seafood

For those who prefer steakhouse specialties, check out Center Stage Restaurant at the Plaza.

The restaurant is aptly named ”” guests must feel like they’re on stage, performing in the klieg light glow of the Fremont Street Experience.

The venerable dining room that overlooks Fremont Street through a glass dome canopy is a classic affair in the genre of classic Las Vegas. The split-level dining room is accented with brass fixtures, hardwood furnishing, celebrity photos on the walls and first-cabin service right out of Las Vegas’ Golden Age.

Even before the Fremont Street Experience was built, this classic dining room for decades charmed its guests with its first-rate food and breathtaking view overlooking Fremont Street.

The menu is a blend of Continental specialties and steakhouse favorites, all served at surprisingly reasonable prices (the cost to dine here is a good 45 percent-50 percent below the cost of a comparable Strip gourmet room).

Among the house favorites are the Pacific Salmon served with fresh Roma tomatoes and a dill cream sauce; veal Marsala; orange roughy Franchese; prime rib ”” slow roasted and served with natural juices; and superb steaks ”” 14-ounce New York steak, magnum cut New York Steak, 20-ounce Porterhouse steak and a tender filet mignon, served in a thyme infused port demi glaze reduction or béarnaise with sautéed mushrooms.

Seafood lovers are never disappointed with Center Stage’s Alaskan King crab legs and Australian lobster tails.

Like most fine restaurants, Center Stage serves innovative appetizers that can accent a great entrée, or combined into a satisfying meal.

For a treat, try the baked crab cakes with a tangy honey-Dijon mustard sauce; shrimp cocktail with horseradish cocktail sauce; clams Chardonnay in a shallot wine broth; or a tasty bruschetta di Pomodora, which is topped with fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic.

You would be wise to save some of your appetite for dessert: the chocolate mousse cake and tiramisu are absolutely sinful.