Landing in Las Vegas III: Restaurants and Shops

When I write in my journals, I’d always put where my family and I have eaten. Because when I can remember the place we were in, I’d also recall the environment, the smells, what we did there, and what we talked about during those times.

To record the moments that my Mom and our family spent together around dinner tables and sharing delicious food together, I want to dedicate this post to that purpose. Also, if ever you find yourself in Las Vegas, you can visit these places, have a taste of their specialties, and meet the very hospitable and kind people there.

Patisserie Manon

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The first meeting with Patisserie Manon was when my cousin Ouel said he’ll be back in a bit. He drove somewhere, while we all waited in the house. When he came back, he brought this carton box with him. A plain white sticker said it was from Patisserie Manon.

They bought a cake for my Mom who celebrated her birthday in December!

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Here is the cake! I believe it’s called Fruits des bois, complete with French macarons and halved strawberries. The colors are vibrant and the flavors fruity and not so sweet, which is good! In the words of Ouel, “Délicieux!” He’s studying how to speak in French. I think after two years, he has improved already!

Days after, Ouel drove my Mom and I to the patisserie itself. It was cold and nighttime already.

Patisserie Manon is a family business managed by Mr. Jean-Paul and Ms. Rachel. It is named after their first daughter, Manon. They also have bakeries in Tahiti and Moorea, French Polynesia. Likewise, they have two bakeries in Vegas: Camille by Manon in South Rainbow Boulevard, one in Charleston. We went to Charleston’s.

I also remember Ouel telling us that all their pastries are handmade and prepared daily, so no ingredients or products would go to waste.

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Besides being a bakery, it is also a bistro!

For the holiday vibe, they have paintings of Santa Claus, snow, stockings, and presents on their glass windows and doors.

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It’s bright, clean, and quiet inside.

On the right part of the wall is a tree-like light installation with cubes with Christmas ribbons on them (and a teddy bear donning the seasonal colors of green and red)…

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a wooden shelf where their epicerie was (I’ve searched for the meaning of epicerie and it translates to grocery) – French products you can buy from them like mustard, oil and vinegar bistro, and other items…

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and this mural where a boulanger puts in the dough into a firebrick oven (What could the dough rise to be? Bread? A croissant?) and a chef patissier decorates a four tier cake. I’ve read just now from their website that bread is like a staple food in France, the same way that rice is for us in the Philippines and in Asia.

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Today, I’ve learned that a chef patissier (pastry chef) is a professional whose specialty is desserts, specifically cakes and pastries.

I appreciate the French language and culture more because of my cousin Ouel. Languages of the world are such an interesting thing to learn. How each country has its own language and how the provinces have their own dialects…

The mural appealed to me a lot, because somehow it reminded me of the simplicity of the country life (because of the view in the window) and the process and passion in baking and decorating. Both the boulanger and chef patissier have a serious expression, which tells me that passion doesn’t always show in smiles or laughs but in a thoughtful gaze too. I also love how two children peek from the outside, curious perhaps about the final product of the baker. It’s such a beautiful mural and made me think of the province.

An ideal life for me would be in the province, and it would include me baking for my family, friends, neighbors, and to anyone who wants to have a warm piece of bread on their hands.

Now that I think about it, maybe the mural shows Mr. Jean-Paul and Ms. Rachel? It’s a nice thought to consider!

Now, when you turn your back from the mural, that’s when you see the hard work, skills, love, and talents of the two managers in French pastry form.

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French macarons of various colors and flavors! There are also other pastries and cakes that I’m not familiar with, but I’m sure they taste great too! They are all made with natural ingredients.

Since it was Christmas too, there were seasonal cakes with little Santa Claus decors.

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Their refrigerators also kept some of the ice cream cakes cold and firm.

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These are works of art that can be eaten. Haha!

Ouel treated my Mom and me with macarons, and he had his own tartelette strawberry.

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The salted caramel macaron was my favorite. It’s also my Mom’s! This is probably the cause why my Mom and I have suddenly taken a strong liking to anything salted caramel.

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The tartelette strawberry was yummy too, and I recall it being not too sweet which is okay.

Ouel is a sweet tooth, and I think it was on our USA trip that my fondness for sweets started and intensified. I was influenced by my cousin. Haha!

That was our first visit to Manon. During the next days, we also went back, and Ouel got to converse in French with a bright blue-eyed man who was the cashier that day. We took home some macarons for everyone.

Patisserie Manon is in 8751 W. Charleston Blvd, Suite 110, Las Vegas, NV 89117. Camille by Manon is in 2170 South Rainbow Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89146.


Baguette Café

Baguette Café, according to Ouel, is another family business. He was friends with one of the owners, Mr. Olivier, if I’m not mistaken.

When we went, I was so inspired and felt happy being there, probably because of how intimate it was. The family ran the whole business, but they also have friends who helped out. It’s a beautiful way to serve people – the family working together. They were so kind even if we didn’t get to talk much to them. I guess one would feel that someone is kind and hospitable even with no words being said.

Besides being a positive place to be in, I feel that it’s also a good place to spend a quiet afternoon reading a book, drawing, or working in. Breakfasts will definitely feel lighter as the café opens at 7:00 AM.

For us though, we went during the afternoon.

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I had the chocolate tart whose texture was so rich and smooth! I loved the cream too which came at the side. I’d order this again with a croissant the next time we visit.

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Photo from Jango’s phone
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Jangobear!

The interiors gave a comfortable atmosphere. The walls were painted a warm yellow orange and had printed canvases of photos taken in France.

Moreover, they had tables outdoors too. It’s a peaceful area, and there are a few trees just next to their café.

We left when it was getting dark already.

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Baguette Café is located at Centra Point Retail Shops, 8359 W Sunset Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89113.


Sushi-Mon

From French, let’s go to Japanese!

Another thing I loved and keep going back to in Vegas – the sushi places. One is Sushi-Mon where my cousins and I went to one afternoon.

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The first time we went there, we had to wait for a while because there were no available seats. We were just standing outside and talked about culture and other things. I enjoyed those conversations, listening to my cousins and sharing laughs with them.

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After a little while, we got to go in!

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Sushi-Mon started around 2001 as one of the very few numbers of Japanese restaurants that offered All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) sushi.

Besides sushi, they also have specials for the day which you can see from their blackboard hanging on the wall.

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A photo of the combo meal that Jango ordered that time. This can already make you full!

They also have mochi of different flavors.

It’s always a fun time to have sushi with my cousins. This was during our trip last 2015. Our youngest cousin, Tessa, was the one behind the camera for these shots!

There are two locations of Sushi-Mon: one is in 9770 S. Maryland Parkway, Ste 3, Las Vegas, NV 89183, while the other is in 8320 W. Sahara Ave., Ste 180, Las Vegas, NV 89117.


Sasa Sushi

On our three trips/stays in Vegas for the past years, Sasa Sushi is the place we’ve gone to several times. I like the friendly ambience there, their AYCY sushi, the service, creative presentation, and the contagious joy of those behind the sushi bar! I remember two of their chefs: Chef Manny and Chef Nick.

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Although my cousins Jango and Ouel are the ones who talk to them most of the time, I can see how kind and polite they are, and happy with the food they prepare for their customers. Whenever we visited, they always had a smile while making the rolls.

My cousins would ask for special requests too like pork belly roll and Salmon skin hand roll among others.

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A wild Jango appeared!

It was in Sasa too that I got to try tempura vanilla ice cream for the first time.

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When my Dad and I came again to Vegas in May 2015, our cousins brought us back to Sasa Sushi. Tito Manny, Tita Mila, and our cousins Kuya John C, Paffy, Theresa, Igo, and Kuya Obi were with us too. We had AYCY, and I distinctly remember all of us being so full, but Ouel kept on ordering more. When we’re done with one plate, another one or two would arrive. All were fresh and prepared with care for the ingredients. I think my Dad enjoyed it a lot there!

And on our most recent trip last January 2016, we visited Sasa Sushi one more time!

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Low-sodium soy sauce.

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I cannot recommend Sasa Sushi enough, so if you visit Vegas, drive to 7450 W Cheyenne Ave Ste 118 Las Vegas, Nevada 89129.


McMullan’s Irish Pub

We went to McMullan’s Irish Pub on our third visit to Vegas last January 2016. On our way there, Jango played songs by Irish artists like Galeic Storm’s Born to be a Bachelor and the Celtic Woman’s Walk Beside Me.

He’s very knowledgable and appreciative of other countries’ music. It’s because of Jango that I got to learn about Greek, German, Irish, and Indian music. He also introduced me to Nahko and Medicine for the People. My first song ever heard was Wash It Away. He kept joking that Nahko had a resemblance with my Dad – they actually do have a resemblance. Haha! They played the guitar excellently too.

Anyway, Jango set the mood for us before going to McMullan’s. It was our first time (my Mom and I) to try it there.

Since it was a pub, it was quite dark inside, and there were rooms for smoking. We had to walk through there to get to our table in the far end of the building.

Jango ordered for us, and we had Irish nachos!

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Their nachos (instead of chips) were homemade potato chips! Toppings included bacon, tomatoes, chives, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and shredded corned beef. It was flavorful and not too oily too. My Mom especially loved it!

I didn’t get to have photos much then, but here is a picture of what you can see from just outside the pub!

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McMullan’s Irish Pub is at 4650 W. Tropicana, Las Vegas, Nevada 89103.


Seafood City Supermarket

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Whenever we traveled back then in a foreign country, I would always try to look for Filipinos. Meeting someone along the way makes me happy and home, so when we went to Seafood City Supermarket, there were so many Filipinos in one place! Favorite local products lined up the shelves, and we got to see Jollibee, Chowking, and Red Ribbon too.

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The interiors made me feel like we were back in the Philippines – except for the fact that everyone wore jackets or sweaters. My cousin is an exception. The only temperature he considers cold is 40 degrees Fahrenheit and below. Haha!

When we had to cook something for lunch like sinigang, arroz caldo, or Bicol Express, we would go here to Seafood City.

Established in 1989 in National City, California, this Filipino-American supermarket chain has expanded to different states today like California, Washington, Hawaii, and Nevada. Filipinos who are near Seafood City will definitely feel at home, because they have our favorite delicacies. A taste of our local merienda and meals make us remember how it was then in our country. Food has this connection with our memory – see Anton Ego from Ratatouille!

I can only imagine what it was like for Filipino migrants decades ago who had no place to go and look for puto-bumbong, bibingka, polvoron, achara, coconut water or milk, bagoong, chicharon, pastillas – I can go on!

“Back then, Filipino-Americans would wander into Asian grocery stores looking for anything familiar – bagoong, chicharon, pansit bihon, or tuyo. They’d leave having settled for similar versions. Indonesian acar in place of atchara, Malaysian singgang instead of sinigang, Chinese rice cakes standing in for bibingka.– From The History of Seafood City

With the many Filipinos, local products aplenty in Seafood City, and their sariling atin (truly ours) philosophy, you can truly feel the community, harmony, and familiar undying spirit of bayanihan when you visit their store.

On our first visit, I was amazed to see the produce! The lettuce, cabbages, potatoes, and fruits were big!

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We went away with me happy to have been in another place – besides our relatives’ house and company – that felt home.

Seafood City Supermarket is in 3890 S. Maryland Parkway Las Vegas, NV 89119.


Chinatown

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If we have Binondo in the Philippines (I suddenly thought of hopia now), there’s also Chinatown in Las Vegas. On our first itinerary here, my cousins Jango, Kuya John C, and I had pho at Pho Kim Long Restaurant in 4029 W Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89102.

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Because of the cold weather that morning, a big bowl of pho warmed our stomachs. It was my first time to have pho too. I understand that there is a certain way to prepare and eat another country’s well-known meal.

As I’ve been reminiscing and writing what we did on our trip here to Vegas – and even the other times we went to a foreign country – I’ve realized that I haven’t read much about the history or background of the places we’ve been to. Not until I had to write now that I began reading more about them.

I guess I just wanted to make sense of the place, culture, and community first before – to truly experience it as it is without me knowing so much at first? I think it’s how I see a movie too. During the first, I am caught in the moment, in the story, in the characters, in the sights and sounds. Certain scenes would leave me in surprise or in awe or in confusion. And when I watch it a second time or read an article about the movie afterwards, that’s when the “Oh, now I get it!” or “Wow, I didn’t notice that!” thoughts come in.

That’s what happened with my writing this Vegas travel post. I gained better understanding and appreciation for all the places we’ve been to now that we’re home – well into two years after our initial US trip – and I got to read more about them.

But still, I agree that one should research beforehand about the proper manners, etiquette, and basic knowledge about the country or community’s culture, history, language, and people prior going there.

Lesson learned after two years!

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Instead of savoring the broth or tasting the noodles first, I went in for the herbs, spices, and sauce, I think. Next time, I will be more mindful too of the food, how it is sourced, prepared, and cooked up to how it is supposed to taste without all the condiments or garnishes adding to the layers of flavor.

After breakfast, we walked to a nearby establishment comprised of shops that sold Asian products like big fans, notebooks, and envelopes, to name a few that I can recall.

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In one shop, there were red and gold lanterns lining the ceiling. They definitely bring an atmosphere of festivity and liveliness in a place.


Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

In 1972, Mr. Alvin Copeland, Sr. opened Chicken on the Run, which would eventually become Popeyes. According to the history in their website, the name Popeyes came from Popeye Doyle of The French Connection.

For Chicken on the Run, they served traditional Southern-fried chicken, but because it didn’t turn out to be successful as expected then, Mr. Copeland, Sr. reopened the restaurant under the name it is now known for, serving New Orleans-style chicken. Its first franchise restaurant opened in Louisiana in 1976.

Every Tuesday (okay, not every Tuesday), Jango would buy two boxes of Popeyes Fried Chicken because of their Tuesday promo. Their fried chicken is a guilty pleasure of mine. I know I shouldn’t be eating too much oily food, but I kept justifying it that we were on vacation and that I could exercise again when we came back. Its spicy variant is really good!

During our third visit to Vegas last 2015, we got to buy Popeyes again for everyone. Because we had plenty, at least we would have food for the days after.

When we came back to the Philippines, Jango would send me a picture of the box, sometimes with a fried chicken in his hand. Haha!


Sprouts Farmers Market

I loved this place a lot for its organic and healthy products, calm ambiance, and nature-friendly advocacy. Because of Jango and Ouel, I was made more aware and conscious too of the food we bought and ate.

We first went to a small branch where my first ever purchase in the States was made!

I bought dark chocolate, cookies, and a strawberry banana drink.

Besides Sprouts, I also love Wholefoods. I haven’t been to Trader Joes, but I’ve heard that they carry great products too.


Goodwill Stores and Donation Center

A sustainable social enterprise, Goodwill is one of the shops we would frequent when we visit. You can buy clothes, shoes, toys, and books donated by other people – and all for a good cause!

These donations create job opportunities and careers for local community members. Goodwill also offers employment and holds job training and community-based programs for people who have little experience or lack of education. Their mission helps uplifts others, so if you find yourself near a Goodwill store, please do visit!

They have special promos and sales, so you get to save money when you buy from them on a particular day.

I especially love looking at the blouses/tops and skirts, books section, household items like mugs and cups, and little trinkets like in the photos below.

I can’t help but think of the story of these items, about their previous owners, and what lives they have lived with them before. From one person to another, their function and purpose continue to help somebody.


Those are a few of the shops and restaurants we got to visit in Las Vegas during the three tips in the past two years we visited our relatives. My Mom, Dad, and I will truly cherish the memories that were birthed there for we shared food and stories with our loved ones. We’re deeply thankful for our family for being generous, caring, loving, and fun hosts whenever we stayed.


In my next post under Landing in Las Vegas, I’ll be writing about two places in Vegas where it gets really quiet since they’re far from the high-rise buildings and bright lights of the city. 

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