Wing Lei at the Wynn, Las Vegas

Wing Lei's dining room is beautiful and ornate it's difficult not to fall in love with this place. One side of the room overlooks a well manicured garden with 100-year-old pomegranate trees complete with lights illuminating the garden in the evening. On the other side of the room is a ceiling-to-floor mirror panel that creates an illusion of the room size.

Currently the first and only Chinese restaurant in the United States to receive a Michelin Star, Wing Lei is headed by Executive Chef Ming Yu. Just recently, T and I were lamenting that Chinese cuisine has fallen more and more into the stereotype of being a greasy and cheap takeout type of food. Maybe it's the Chinese takeout food places that are popping up all over America that creates the impression that Chinese food is all about its low prices with portions large enough that leftovers can be a substantial meal in itself for next day's lunch, never mind so much about the quality. This is not the reality of Chinese food, or at least not the reality of Chinese food we grew up with in Asia. For every burger diner places, there is a high end steakhouse where people are willing to splurge. The reality is the same for Chinese cuisine; there are refined ways of preparing them. Chinese food does not only belong in a white takeout box. It also belongs in a high end restaurant.

Wing Lei is a high end Chinese restaurant that is very similar to  what you can find in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia from atmosphere to pricing. In fact, it is not uncommon to find Chinese restaurants like these in a slightly higher price range in Asia. Wing Lei reminded us a lot of the very good Chinese restaurants we've been to in several parts of Asia and we were impressed as to how close Wing Lei tries to execute this concept. The cuisine at Wing Lei is French-influenced Shanghai, with a mix of Cantonese and Szechwan.


Wing Lei offers a 6-course Imperial Peking Duck Tasting Menu which was what we went with. They also have a good variety of ala carte items and a separate menu which they say has the more traditional Chinese dishes. We are great fans of Peking duck and could not have said no to the Imperial Peking Duck Tasting Menu. We had just flew in to Las Vegas that same night, checked in at the Encore where we stayed, and headed straight to Wing Lei at the Wynn for our 9:00pm dinner reservation. Never mind about the time zone change where it was 11:00pm central time back in Chicago, we would had have to stomach some Peking duck anyway at that time of night. We were in Las Vegas after all, where the time of night or day does not matter. Activities go on.

At the beginning of the first course, the duck is brought to the table on a cart. Done table side, the server then carves the skin along with some of the meat before placing each carved skin and meat on top of a flat steamed bun garnished with thin strips of scallions and cucumber, served with hoisin sauce. The steamed buns were incredibly soft and light to bite. Each of us got two sets of buns and although on an ordinary night we would have been able to devour more than that, the portion for the first course was just right seeing that we had more duck coming our way in the next few courses.

The second course was the Peking Duck Salad constructed and presented in a more contemporary way. Encased in a pastry ring were romaine lettuce, chopped duck meat, endive, slice of mandarin orange, and cherry tomato mixed citrus vinaigrette dressing. The generous amount of duck meat, sliced into bite sizes, were tender in texture.

The third course was a lighter dish that came in form of duck wonton in broth. The highlight of this dish was definitely the wonton wrapper used for the duck wonton. The wonton wrappers were very delicate, smooth, thin, and almost fragile. Generally, the quality of wonton wrappers is judged by its thinness and is deemed superior over the thicker unrefined ones.

The wok-fried duck meat and pan-seared yee mee noodles with duck meat were brought simultaneously to the table as the fourth and fifth courses. Served family style, both dishes were meant to be shared. The wok-fried duck meat was accompanied by shitake mushrooms, red peppers, and zucchini; the duck noodle dish had accompaniments as one would expect such as bean sprouts and scallions. Halfway through these courses our stomachs started to fill up and although we finished the plate of noodles, we were successful in only eating half the portion of the wok-fried duck meat. Had I not started to feel full, I am sure I would have enjoyed more the wok-fried duck meat.

We stayed true to our Southeast Asian roots by requesting from the server if they had any freshly sliced chilli peppers and to which he responded, I will get the kitchen to prepare some for you. He came back with a generous amount of sliced Thai birds eye chilli and reminded us several times that these were really spicy. Yes, we love our food spicy, we told him.

Dinner ended with the last and sixth course which was dessert that was by no means a traditional Chinese dessert but reflected Wing Lei's versatility of constructing a Western-style dessert. Mango sorbet and banana cream sat atop short bread. Complementing the dessert was the tangy salsa made up of kiwi fruit, strawberry, and mango.

Wing Lei achieves to cater to both discerning traditional Chinese taste buds as well as Western palates without the need to compromise the taste and quality of food either way its prepared. Its versatility to cater to either types of palate and the ability to execute it well is probably one of its great strengths as reflected in the range of diverse population of diners in the dining room. We saw a table of Mandarin-speaking Chinese who ordered the traditional delicacy of birds nest soup. The table next to us was an Italian couple who ordered the Peking duck tasting menu. Another table comprising of Middle Easterners ordered a variety of stir-fried dishes served family style. Wing Lei got its food execution right and it's not difficult to see it as a fine addition to the rest of the fine dining restaurants at the Wynn.

Wing Lei at the Wynn
3131 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109

2011 AAA Four Diamond Award of Excellence
2010 AAA Four Diamond Award of Excellence
2009 1-Michelin Star
2009 AAA Four Diamond Award of Excellence
2008 1-Michelin Star
2008 AAA Four Diamond Award of Excellence

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