OysterPalooza, late-night beer pairing, Festivino and extraordinary Chinese

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It’s almost October, and therefore almost National Seafood Month. Two restaurateurs from Southern California, Sal Casola and Chipper Pastron, are celebrating by once again offering an OysterPalooza menu at two of their Vegas eateries, D.vino Italian Food & Wine Bar at Monte Carlo and Morels at the Palazzo.

This means fresh oysters from all over North America, including two of my absolute favorites: the sweet, briny Kusshi oysters from Vancouver Island, B.C., and meaty, clean Malpeques from Prince Edward Island. They’re priced at $3.50 each, a half-dozen for $18.95, and a dozen for $36.95. I can eat two dozen without taking a breath, and probably will.

Morels, as it happens, will have its first Late Night Beer Dinner at 10 p.m. Sept. 29 ($65, 607-6333), with a gala menu planned by D.vino executive chef Jose Navarro. The menu will feature fare such as pan-seared diver scallops, grilled endive and romaine and a hefty prime sirloin steak, paired with craft beers, including Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s Union Jack and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Kellerweis.

Also at the Venetian and Palazzo, October kicks off with the second annual Festivino, a celebration of Bordeaux wines held throughout the month. High-quality Bordeaux wines will be available in flights and by the glass in many of the resort’s restaurants, including Lavo, First Food & Bar, SushiSamba and Table 10.

This is your chance to taste high-end Bordeaux wines at competitive prices. The festival kicks off 7-9 p.m. Sept. 30 with a wine tasting.

Finally, while many upscale Chinese restaurants on the Strip are busy on weekends and holidays, few are in the sort of demand visited upon KJ’s Kitchen, at the far west end of Chinatown (5960 W. Spring Mountain Road, 221-0456). KJ’s is filled to capacity every evening during peak hours, and is the restaurant of choice for visiting Chinese from California, thanks to its good, home-style cooking, bargain-basement prices and a tank stocked with shrimp and fish.

So what are the natives eating? How about bitter melon spare ribs in a clay pot, or Concubines Chicken—oil-stewed chicken served cold with a fuzzy garlic-ginger purée. Even though this is a Cantonese place, I’m totally hooked on Chinese bacon and celery from the Szechuan menu. I also love ong choy (a reedy relative of spinach, just now in season) and the crispy Hong Kong noodles topped with fish, calamari and shrimp. What’s more, KJ’s is open until 2 a.m. daily.

Hungry, yet?


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