I just returned from a whirlwind week-long desert trip.

My boyfriend and I flew into Las Vegas to meet up with my father (who was in town visiting a friend) while on our way to Tucson to meet up with my mom. Mom was in Arizona for a tattoo convention.

I had never been to the famed Sin City.
I was looking in one direction, distracted by the sites of the strip when
my boyfriend pointed out a large sign declaring “KIMCHI”.
My reaction?

No way! Really?

But yes. Yes way, indeed. Not a desert mirage, but a 24 hour all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ.

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I wasn’t aiming for a food adventure, yet there it was.

I stepped into the restaurant and asked if they made the kimchi themselves. I was told that, yes, it was made there.
I was hoping so, but you never know. I have been to places that will serve up something out of a jar purchased elsewhere.

The hostess told me that they usually serve the kimchi as part the buffet meal and did not have it on the menu separately. She let me know that she would have to ask for pricing on the kimchi. The hostess stepped back to ask a woman in the kitchen, who I assumed was more than likely an owner.

The young hostess returned to inform me that they would sell me a container for $5 plus tax and proceeded toward the buffet table.

The first thing I noticed was the way it was displayed at the buffet.

The kimchi was laid out nicely, rather than slopped in the tray. I love Korean cuisine because, in addition to tasting great, it’s usually presented very artistically. The hostess kindly overstuffed the container with some pungently peppery kimchi and asked if I wanted some chopsticks, which I accepted.

The woman who was back by the kitchen offered a smaller plastic baggie to keep the container from leaking, which was very nice of her, as kimchi juice always seems to find a way to escape from most containers.

So I hopped back into the rental car with my boyfriend and father, and I (kindly) placed the lightly seafood scented fermented cabbage into a small cooler my father brought along. We drove to the Circus Circus where my dad placed a single bet on roulette. Then we were off to see the wizard, er Tucson.

No way for us to see the Hoover dam on this trip. Once we were over on the newly constructed bridge we realized we had missed our opportunity to take the exit to see the dam. So on we went.

When we arrived in Tucson I took this pic:

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Then unwrapped the chopsticks and dug in…

Here’s the assessment:

The stuff stunk, that was for sure. My mom wanted to know what smelled like sewage (yum!). However, I was not deterred. While the odor was vaguely seafood-esque it was not as fishy as I had expected. The flavor was not too sour, and relatively sweeter than what I make at home. The cabbage seemed healthy and very green. The texture of the cabbage leaves was was similar to what it might have been fresh. A bit salty, but that seemed to balance out the sweetness. There was plenty of green onion and maybe some radish. Lots and lots of red pepper paste made it spicy, but not devastatingly hot.

Overall it was some of the best kimchi I have had in a while.

It was a cure for all ailments, a potion of funk. My father was compelled to try some on a slice of pizza, which he claimed was delicious.

I got tattooed, a cactus, well suited for Arizona. And we took a tour out to Tombstone, which was fun. We got there a bit late and missed the gunfight, but we went to Boothill, had some dinner, and took the ghost tour at The Birdcage theater.

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I said farewell to my parents and the boyfriend and I headed back towards Vegas, stopping to visit his grandparents on the way.

We spent one night at The Excalibur casino on the strip, because the rooms were the least expensive. Got to ride the roller coaster at New York, New York, right next door. My right foot was hurting, so we didn’t wander too far. We got to the MGM Grand, the Luxor and the following day we went to Treasure Island before heading back to the airport.

Crazy stuff.

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