Las Vegas is known for excess—the shows, the all-you-can-eat buffets, the sheer amount of neon. Practically everything about Sin City screams “Indulge! More! More!” That’s why it’s no surprise that of all the places in the world, it is the home of what is most likely one of (if not the) world’s most expensive soup.
If you’re game, the bowl of soup costs $688 and is served up at the Talon Club, a VIP private gaming room which is located in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The price was designed to honor the Chinese belief in the number 8 being the luckiest number. (In Cantonese and Mandarin, the world for wealth sounds very similar to the word for eight, hence the luck.)
To backtrack a little: as of 2005, the world’s most expensive soup according to the Guinness Book of World Records, was called Buddha Jumps Over the Wall and could be found at Kai Mayfair in London. It was made with shark’s fin, abalone, Japanese flower mushroom, sea cucumber, dried scallops, chicken, huan ham, pork and ginseng and had to be ordered five days in advance due to the ingredients. In 2005, it cost $190 USD, which would be roughly $238 today. Another strong contender would be the Presidential Beef Noodle Soup, which can be found at Niu Ba BA in Taipei City, Taiwan and retails for $325 (as of 2017).
If these are indeed two of the world’s most expensive soups, this soup from the Talon Club would top both of those by a long shot.
But, what makes this soup so special? It comes down to one word (which is also its key ingredient): Cordyceps.
Cordyceps is a “catepillar fungus” and, if you couldn’t tell, is incredibly rare. The name is derived from the Greek for “club head” and only grows in select seasonal locations above 3,800 meters (12,000 feet) of elevation. When harvested, Cordyceps is valued at $14,000 per gram. (With 453.5 grams equaling one pound, that would come to a grand total of $6,349,000 per pound.)
“Cordyceps are well known in Chinese culture, and here at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, many of our high end gaming clientele request the soup. From a health perspective, Cordyceps have been said to have medicinal benefits when consumed. It is believed that the fungus can boost immunity and stamina,” says Bryan Fyler, Executive Chef of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Others believe Cordyceps has the power to act as a natural cancer treatment, as an aphrodisiac, and as an anti-aging supplement.
The soup, according to Fyler, has been popular among many of the high-rollers who visit the Talon Club. In 2017, they served around 100 bowls and the chef says he expects at least as many in the coming year.
One ingredient doesn’t make a soup, though. In addition to the Cordyceps (of which there is a quarter-ounce in every bowl), the soup features black-skinned chicken breast, Longan berries, and red dates. The soup, much like Cordyceps on their own, has an earthy flavor.
If you’re heading to Vegas soon and plan on hitting it big (who doesn’t?), would you spend the price tag to be one of the few to try this soup this year?