Ping Pang Pong. Delicious regional (mostly Cantonese) fare, including marvelous dim sum made fresh daily, compels discerning diners—many who hail from Vegas's large Asian community—to brave the smoky, low-roller's gaming area of the Gold Coast. Named for three characters in Puccini's opera Turandot (Pong is head chef of the imperial kitchen), this well-regarded restaurant comprises a pair of circular dining rooms decked with red lanterns. Request a table
in the back of the left-hand dining room to avoid casino noise, open-kitchen clatter, and take-out traffic. Order authentically prepared dishes such as minced squab–lettuce cups, Empire seafood stew, preserved-egg porridge, or fresh, braised abalone, along with a glass of chrysanthemum iced tea and sweet pineapple buns for dessert, soft and warm from the oven. The lobster Macau (in caper-butter sauce) also has plenty of fans. Chefs will cater to customers' requests for small, unique offerings not on the menu, as long as the ingredients are on hand. The restaurant is open nightly until 3 am. Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, 4000 W. Flamingo Rd., West Side, Las Vegas, NV, 89103. 702/247–8136. www.goldcoastcasino.com/dine.