Noodle Shop at Mandalay Bay: Too Refined?

The Noodle Shop is located directly off of Mandalay Bay’s casino floor, between Raffles Café and the hotel’s main elevators.  It is open 11am-11pm during the week and 11am-1am on the weekends.  They do not take reservations, but the line moves fairly quickly.

When we got in line for dinner, we were the only non-Asian group.  I took this as a good sign. There is no place to sit while you are waiting, so be prepared to stand for a while. Our party of 4 was seated about 20 minutes after arriving.  We kept it fairly simple. Hot tea all around, steamed shrimp dumpling appetizer, 2 people ordered Shanghai Noodles and 2 people ordered Mongolian Beef.  All of the food was good, but a little bland or under-seasoned.  I really wanted a bit more of an edge or street version of my Shanghai Noodles.  They were too refined.  The Mongolian Beef had a fairly thin sauce, which my companions enjoyed, but they also thought it wasn’t as flavorful as they had hoped.

The service was attentive when we arrived, but (expect for the water refills) we were left alone once the food arrived. It was nice not to be bothered during the meal, but after we were done, we had to wait a while before flagging down our server so we could ask for the check.  I would think they would want to get us out faster since the line was at least 12 people deep the entire time we were there.

It was a nice place to eat and even though the casino is right there, you never felt like you were at the edge of the casino.  The combination of the quiet environment and being left alone once dinner was served, helped create a very private dining feel.  It is worth trying for yourself, but I probably won’t be back since I was hoping for a more flavorful experience.

Mlife and Total Rewards Tier Comparison

Some of the information in this post is not longer accurate. An up to date version can be found in my Mlife and Total Rewards Tier Comparison 2014 post. I am leaving this post up for archival purposes only.

I have noticed that a few people have found my site by searching for comparisons between Mlife and Total Rewards tiers. Here is my take on them.

On a very basic level, I view Mlife Pearl and Total Rewards Platinum as being similar and Mlife Gold and Total Rewards Diamond as being similar. Mlife Platinum is also similar to the Total Rewards Diamond level, but with a few more benefits than the Mlife Gold. Mlife Noir and Total Rewards Seven Stars are comparable to each other, but I’m not going to discuss those tiers since they require a very high level of action.

The benefits of Mlife Pearl and TR Platinum are very basic (buffet line pass, club check in at some resorts). In addition, Platinum also gets you invitations to Caesars’ Summerfest and Winterfest promotions as well as show and spa discounts. (UPDATE: The Summerfest and Winterfest promotions appear to have been discontinued)
You do get more from TR Platinum status than you do from Mlife Pearl status, but it is a lot easier to get Pearl status. It is difficult for me to imagine a time when I would not have at least Mlife Pearl status.

If you are a video poker player I see the benefits of Platinum status being worth the price difference. If you are looking to achieve your status through dining and entertainment purchases, Mlife Pearl is far and away the best option. Please note that the Mlife purchase amounts are based upon the 25 credits per dollar rate in Las Vegas. If you are at Beau Rivage, Gold Strike Tunica or MGM Grand Detroit, you only earn 8 credits per dollar.


Tier Credits

Coin In

VP Coin In


Mlife Pearl


(effective Oct. 2012)



TR Platinum

5,000 (effective Jan. 2013)




Note that you can also get ‘Platinum in a Day’ which gives you Platinum status for 2000 Tier Credits earned by gambling in a single gaming day. Unlike the traditional Platinum status, if you earn it through Platinum In A Day, the status expires at the end of March of the next year (earning PIAD in June of 2012 would give you Platinum status until the end of March 2013). If you earn Platinum by earning 4000 Tier Credits in the year, you have Platinum status from the moment you earn it, thought all of the next year and then through the end of March the following year (reaching 4000 Tier Credits in June 2012, gives you Platinum status for the rest of 2012, all of 2013 and through the end of March, 2014).
Update: Platinum in a Day is no longer an official option as of January 1, 2013, but Earning 2500 Tier points in a single day and earning the new bonus Tier Points will get you full Platinum status. Also, the new Tier Credit requirement for Platinum status is 5000 Tier Credits in a calendar year.

The benefits of Mlife Gold and Total Rewards Diamond are a bit more equal. They get you buffet and café line passes, priority dining reservations, nightclub access, players club priority check in, room upgrades, shopping discounts, show seating upgrades and casino cage priority. Although not an official benefit of Mlife Gold, I have received priority taxi line and valet service with my Mlife Gold card. The taxi and valet service are official TR Diamond benefits.


Tier Credits

Coin In

VP Coin In


Mlife Gold


(effective Oct. 2012)



TR Diamond

(effective Jan. 2013)




Note that you can also get ‘Diamond in a Day’ which gives you Diamond status for 5000 Tier Credits earned by gambling in a single gaming day. If you split that into 2 days with 2500 Tier Credits on each of those days, though, you can get full Diamond status (effective Jan. 2013). Diamond in a Day only gives you Diamond status for that year and through the end of March of the next year. Full Diamond status gives you an additional year.  It is possible to achieve Diamond in a Day and then earn the extra points to achieve full Diamond status from additional play later in the year.

There are a few more things you should take into account when comparing the two systems. Mlife status is good for 1 year from the time your earn it. If you time it right, Total Rewards tier status can be good for a little over 2 years with no additional play.
You also need to factor in what you like and where you play (which casinos as well as geographic location). If Las Vegas were the only place I played, Mlife would be an easy choice for me. I prefer MGM Resorts and Mlife properties. Since I tend to split time between Las Vegas and Atlantic City, I get a lot more value from Caesars Entertainment and Total Rewards status.

For more details about the Mlife program, visit their website
For more information on the Total Rewards program, visit

NOTE: The Mlife program made a few changes which went into effect on October 1, 2012. Please read my post about the October 1st changes.

NOTE: On January 1, 2013 Total Rewards Changed the Tier Credits required for the various tiers. Here is a link to the new info.

Mlife Tier Credits for Non-Gaming Activities

When I originally posted about MGM Resorts’ Mlife program I mentioned that you could earn Tier Credits for retail, dining, entertainment and lodging expenses. I left out one detail though, because I hadn’t been able to verify it.  Now I can add it.
Your earn 25 Tier Credits for every dollar you spend on dining, entertainment, spa services and lodging when you track it with your Mlife card.  Please note that shopping purchases are no longer part of the program.  As a general rule though, if you can charge it to your room, you can get 25 Tier Credits per dollar for it.

If you never gamble, but want to get the perks associated with some of Mlife’s higher tiers, this is what it will cost:
Sapphire: $0 (everyone starts with this)
Pearl: $1000
Gold: $3000
Platinum: $8000
Noir: $40,000 (Note: Noir became a ‘by invitation only’ tier in 2013)

For more information on the benefits associated with each tier, visit the Mlife Tier Benefits page.

The Gold Coast. A Pleasant Surprise

A few weeks ago I spent a night at the Gold Coast. It had been a while since I had been to the Gold Coast and I was expecting the casino to be smoky and run down. I had never stayed there, but knowing that it was an inexpensive, low-roller type place I wasn’t expecting much from the room either.

I was happily surprised on both counts.

First, the casino is using some kind of air freshener in their ventilation system so that the casino doesn’t smell like smoke and actually has a semi-tropical scent (similar to what Strip properties like Mandalay Bay and the Mirage do).  It makes a big difference. I had just come from the Imperial Palace (which is rather smoky) and the Gold Coast was quite literally a breath of fresh air. The casino has the usual array of table games starting with $5 minimum bets, good video poker pay tables for most versions and denominations, a lot of reel and video slot machines and a 720 seat bingo hall. It does not have a poker room.

The rooms are small and utilitarian, but work very well for a no frills night’s sleep. They are 360 square feet, which is on the small side for a basic Las Vegas room. It has a very standard bed, dresser, table and 2 chairs layout. There is no closet, but there is a place in the bathroom area to hang your clothes. That and the sink are open to the room. This is a lot like some of the Best Western rooms I have been in across the country. They get a few extra points from me for having separate shampoo and conditioner instead of a conditioning shampoo more typical of lower level hotels. They also include a single cup coffee maker.

The Gold Coast is off-Strip, but still fairly close. It is on Flamingo Road with the Rio on one side and the Palms on another. It is a local’s casino, which means you can usually find low room rates, dining deals (they have coupon in the American Casino Guide that gets you a free buffet with very little play), low limit gambling with better slot payback percentages and better table game rules (where applicable).

They offer a free shuttle to the Strip (center Strip drop off at Bill’s Gambling Hall) as well as their sister property, the Orleans. The Palms and Rio also have shuttles to the Strip and might actually be a bit more convenient.

The ATMs at the Gold Coast charge a fee of $3.50 instead of the usual $4.99 on the Strip. As usual, these ATMs are not affiliated with a particular bank, so you may also have to pay whatever your bank charges for using for using an ATM.
The Gold Coast does charge a resort fee of $3 which covers local phone calls, in-room coffee, fitness center access and shuttle service. I took the shuttle twice and they never asked for a room card.

While is it not as fancy as most places on the Strip, I’d definitely consider staying at the Gold Coast again when I want a low key, relaxed trip.