Classy venue fills many culinary roles
By Brock Radke
Photos by Peter Harasty
Downtown’s Golden Nugget is a true Vegas icon, a casino-hotel that manages to maintain its classic appeal while staying modern and relevant. Among its newest offerings are the lively Bar 46, a cocktail spot that stretches out to greet the always-fascinating Fremont Street Experience crowds, and the hotel’s Rush Tower, which includes bright, luxurious rooms and suites and the charming Chart House seafood restaurant.
New stuff is always exciting, but in a resort that’s been around for 66 years, there are bound to be quiet, hidden, interesting spots you may have missed—classic Vegas experiences overlooked. Past the sparkling windows that afford a view of the Golden Nugget’s sheltered pool, around the corner from the throwback Carson Street Café coffee shop, that’s where you’ll find Lillie’s. This dark, peaceful dining room represents a serene escape from the constant action of Downtown Vegas, with terrific Asian cuisine to boot.
Lillie’s provides two restaurant experiences in one. It’s a sleek, refined Chinese eatery, featuring a menu flush with familiar flavors. But it’s also a brilliant Japanese-style steakhouse, with dishes prepared before your eyes at communal hibachi grill tables. It’s tough to choose between the two, so maybe a bit of both?
At the grill, you’ll choose from steak and seafood options to go along with soup, salad, vegetables and steamed or fried rice. For the ultimate meal, go with the Emperor’s Feast, giving you three choices from shrimp, scallops, beef tenderloin, New York strip steak or chicken. Try to control the mouthwatering urges as these fresh ingredients are sizzled to perfection and moved straight to your plate.
Lillie’s standard menu is packed with Cantonese dishes, but there are other exotic tastes, too. A favorite appetizer is chicken satay, tender grilled skewers served with spicy Thai peanut sauce. There’s pad Thai, traditional in a slightly sour glaze, and saimin noodles, chewy Hawaiian-style treats flecked with fish cake and barbecued pork. There’s even a sampling of sushi, ocean-fresh sashimi or nigiri bites or creative cut rolls like the tempura shrimp roll with crispy fried seafood, cream cheese and avocado.
Specialties from the wok are the most popular dishes at Lillie’s, from familiar kung pao chicken and extra spicy chop suey to decadent XO prawns, plump and juicy mega-shrimp and crisp green beans saturated in a rich, bold chili sauce. Pair this flavor-packed dish with an order of pan-seared pork and vegetable pot stickers, crab fried rice and some Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, and you’ve created perfect satisfaction. Other signature dishes include crispy fried sole with wasabi mashed potatoes, a kalbi ribeye steak (another island-style favorite), and hearty wor wonton soup—light and fragrant broth filled with juicy wonton dumplings, shrimp, char siu pork and colorful vegetables. For a lighter meal, opt for a chopped Chinese chicken salad with toasted almonds, crispy rice noodles and sesame soy dressing.
Once you’ve discovered Lillie’s, you’ll realize why the Golden Nugget is such an essential destination. It’s got variety and style to spare.
5 p.m.-midnight daily. 702.386.8131