Upcoming Vegas Trip - Aria restaurants, Raku...

Traveling and dining in other Arizona cities and beyond
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Christina
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6 years ago

We're heading to Vegas in a few weeks. E's not a fan of leaving the Strip, but he promised me when we were there last month that on our next trip, I get to go to.....Raku! Couldn't talk him into the kaiseki menu though. We're going to try to get reservations for our first night there, a Thursday. Very excited. I already have my eye on must-orders, but would love any and all info/dish recs/sake suggestions please.

Plans already made are: Meeting friends one night at Biscayne at the Tropicana for a birthday celebration, and one afternoon I'll be dragging E back to Vesper for cocktails, which means dinner at one of his favorites at the Cosmo - Jose Andres' China Poblano (open to recs, he's eaten there but I haven't) for casual or Scarpetta (a highlight for both of us on the last visit) for upscale.

Since we're staying at Aria for the first time, I'd like to mainly explore the restaurants there. Any recs? I'm thinking American Fish since we've never been disappointed with a Michael Mina restaurant, and a lunch at Julian Serrano. Sage too, after reading Dom's blog post from last year. I'm also wondering if Javier will be open by the time we go. Thanks in advance!
Last edited by Christina 6 years ago, edited 2 times in total.
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

Hooray!

A few favorites:
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Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard
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It's listed on the menu as "Steamed Foie Gras Egg Custard," which is to say it's a foie chawanmushi, and it's really, really exceptional. The version here is a little non-standard -- it's usually topped with grilled duck and the foie is in small chunks beneath, but they had run out of the duck on the night I had it, so we... um... got a little extra foie :-)
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Agedashi Tofu
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The more I have agedashi tofu in other places, the more I come to appreciate just how special this one is. Light as air within, a crisply fried dome of a shell, one of what seems like the 87 minor dashi variations he makes in a moat surrounding it, some fresh ikura, a dab of kanzuri on the side if you want to spice it up a touch... total gamechanger for the dish.
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Poached Egg with Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe
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The first time I had this it was thisclose to being awesome and the near miss drove me crazy, but on a subsequent trip it was perfect. Umami bomb is getting to be grossly overused (um... guilty), but no dish is more qualified for the title. Egg, mushrooms, dashi, uni, a little okra and diced mountain yam for texture... killer dish. I almost listed the kaiseki version of it (served up as an uni shooter) on my favorites of 2011 post.
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Saboro Don
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This was another kaiseki dish, but I think the same thing is on the menu as Saboro Don. I feel a little weird getting something so simple an homey at Raku, but man, it's so good... perfect rice with seasoned ground chicken, shredded tamago, shiso, and takana pickle. So, so good.

And there's so much more... I mean, anything grilled. Take your pick. There's usually a sashimi special or two and they're stunning. Ankimo if they've got it. I adore this place.

The only place we ate at Aria was Sage. We didn't originally plan to go, but some friends who happened to be in town the same week said it was fabulous, so we changed plans and we were really surprised by just how much we enjoyed it. It's a big, big flavor place -- maybe right up E's alley. A lot of meaty, meaty dishes with big, full reductions, but nicely balanced with brighter elements.
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48 Hour Beef Belly
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Best example was the 48 Hour Beef Belly. Smoked for 24 hours, braised for another 24, glazed like a short rib, morels and pickled spring onions... it sounds insane and it is, and it was stunning. We also had some killer veal cheeks, and oysters with an almost belligerent tequila mignonette and piquillo tabasco sorbet. Somehow, it worked.

Aburiya Raku
www.raku-grill.com
5030 W. Spring Mountain Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89146
702-367-3511

Sage
www.arialasvegas.com/dining/sage.aspx
Aria Resort & Casino
877-230-2742
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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Christina
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6 years ago

Thanks so much!

What, did you spy on my list and mention the first three I had written down?. HA. In addition to the steamed foie egg custard (is that the same custard that comes with the udon noodles?), Agedashi Tofu (I have high hopes this is going to make E finally like tofu), and poached egg with uni and roe, I'm looking at the Deep Fried Bean Curd stuffed with Mochi and/or fried icefish. I'm really glad you recommended the Saboro Don because I wanted to get donburi, but didn't know which one.

For robata, between what I think E will order and what I will, I'm looking at the fried chicken, pork cheeks, Kobe filet & outside skirt, enoki wrapped with bacon, stuffed portabella, eggplant, shishitos, scallops, tsukune, foie...and then there are the specials. Well, you know how I order! Can you tell I'm excited? We tried calling tonight for reservations but they're closed on Sundays. Drats! I'm impatient to have my spot. I'm thinking of beginning our first night with Happy Hour at American Fish to check it out, before dinner at Raku.

Just checked out the Sage menu. Like the sound of it! I could make a meal of the apps alone. Oysters, grilled octopus, and sweetbreads.Yes please. Thanks again.
http://www.arialasvegas.com/files/dinin ... r-Menu.pdf
ericeatsout
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6 years ago

Just a quick comment: we LOVED Sage. Reminded me of noca in a lot of ways. Of all things, I remember being completely blown away by a salad there. Yes, a salad. Also, a beautiful space and bar.

Re: Raku. I was MUCH more impressed ordering a la carte than the kaiseki menu, which was too tofu-heavy and didn't show-off the great grilled items.

Lastly: if you haven't been, a fun lunch is Hot and Juicy Crawfish.
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Christina
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6 years ago

ericeatsout wrote:Just a quick comment: we LOVED Sage. Reminded me of noca in a lot of ways. Of all things, I remember being completely blown away by a salad there. Yes, a salad. Also, a beautiful space and bar.

Re: Raku. I was MUCH more impressed ordering a la carte than the kaiseki menu, which was too tofu-heavy and didn't show-off the great grilled items.

Lastly: if you haven't been, a fun lunch is Hot and Juicy Crawfish.
Thanks Eric! Okay, Sage is now a definite. Love the idea of the crawfish place too, thanks for that tip.
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Dapuma
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6 years ago

Sage is awesome, here is my review of the reception dinner here

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/790927
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uhockey
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6 years ago

Been to most/all the best of Vegas - if you have the money, Robuchon (not the $400+ menu, but the cheaper prix fixe) is a true "destination" spot, and Kamal is probably the best pastry chef outside of Livingston III at wd~50 and Jordan Kahn at Red Medicine that I can think of. Savoy would be a close #2, though much less 'fun' in my opinion.

China Poblano and Julian Serrano were not awful - but certainly not good, either. I've not been to Vegas Scarpetta, but the NYC version (at least when Conant was in the kitchen) is overpriced but VERY good Italian.

Sage is superb and Raku is as good as the rumors - Raku is also a bargain (Aside from cab fare to get there.)

Would always recommend brunch at Bouchon and while Gagnaire is not everyone's speed, in my opinion Twist is the most underrated restaurant in Vegas (though I will admit Gagnaire was there training for there winter menu when I visited so I'm sure everyone was functioning on a VERY high level.)

Here are all my Vegas reports - most longwinded and picture laden. http://endoedibles.com/?cat=21
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Christina
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6 years ago

Dapuma wrote:Sage is awesome, here is my review of the reception dinner here

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/790927
Thanks Dapuma. What a great place to have a reception and I kinda wish I was eating your scallops with oxtail and salted caramel reduction RIGHT NOW.
uhockey wrote:
Here are all my Vegas reports - most longwinded and picture laden. http://endoedibles.com/?cat=21
Thanks for the wealth of info, cannot wait to go through this. Joel Robuchon is definitely on our list one of these visits. We went to L'atelier when it first opened and loved it. Two of our best meals in Paris (and in life) were Guy Savoy and Pierre Gagnaire. I don't know why I tend to not think of them when I'm in Vegas. Thanks for the reminder. We too love Bouchon. Our most recent visit was when we took my parents in May. There's something about that gorgeous sunlit room - the atmosphere - the food - the service. Love it.

So, I've crossed off Julian Serrano. China Poblano is all E and now it looks like we're going to do a late lunch our last day instead of dinner. Since Vesper for cocktails is a MUST for me, it has to be a place where we can eat our lunch hour (4'ish) at the Cosmopolitan. Hmm...

E just mentioned he'd like to go to Cut (he's a big steakhouse fan), though I'm really leaning towards Twist now. Thoughts on Cut? I know there's a JG steakhouse in Aria too. Steakhouse-wise, some past favorites of his are N9Ne, Prime (multiple visits), SW, and Delmonico. Had a bad experience at Carnevino. I'd love lunch suggestions too, preferably some place new (some I've been to for lunch: Tableau, Bouchon, Olives, Comme Ca, Estiatorio Milos, Mon Ami Gabi, Mesa Grill, Sushi Roku, Spago). Maybe Fleur, MOzen, or RM Seafood?

And yes, have our reservations for Raku! A week from Thursday. :D
Last edited by Christina 6 years ago, edited 2 times in total.
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uhockey
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6 years ago

Fleur was good - but we went early in its opening and Keller was there, so that probably ties in. I add that caveat to Twist, as well, partcularly given their recent staff turnover.......but Pierre Gagnaire Paris is the best meal I've ever had, so I think it is likely a lot similar.

I don't eat a lot of beef (just not a fan) but I've been to the Cut in Beverly Hills and enjoyed it much. I had one really great experience at Craftsteak and one really terrible one (both noted in the blog.)

MoZen was a very nice (and very expensive) breakfast.

Perhaps Central by Michel Richard?

I'm heading back at the end of September and already snagged a seat at e by Jose Andres. Thinking DOCG for late night one night and probably Twist vs. Robuchon for the other dinner. Still sorting out lunches.
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Dapuma
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6 years ago

For lunch the greek place in the Cosmopolitan Estiatorio Milos still runs their lunch special

http://milos.ca/restaurants/las-vegas/menus/lunch--3

The food is very good for the price, although they do drag out the lunch (probably to get you to spend more on drinks) so just a heads up on that, it won't be a fast lunch

If you want to eat healthy the grilled fish is a great option

oh i see you have been there...ok disregard
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Christina
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6 years ago

uhockey wrote:Perhaps Central by Michel Richard?


Adding it to the mix, thanks!
Dapuma wrote:For lunch the greek place in the Cosmopolitan Estiatorio Milos still runs their lunch special

http://milos.ca/restaurants/las-vegas/menus/lunch--3

The food is very good for the price, although they do drag out the lunch (probably to get you to spend more on drinks) so just a heads up on that, it won't be a fast lunch

If you want to eat healthy the grilled fish is a great option

oh i see you have been there...ok disregard
No worries. I agree with all the above. I actually had the grilled lavraki there for lunch on our June visit - perfect.

Image

I should mention that Comme Ça, also in the Cosmo, has a very good lunch special too (and serve it until 5 pm). $22 for three courses. I went with charcuturie on the regular menu, but E had an excellent lunch of onion soup, French dip (so big he didn't finish it), and mini-eclairs for $22.

Charcuterie (rillettes, sopressata, saucisson sec, house-cured brisket, pate, Iberico, and head cheese):

Image

E's French onion soup:

Image

I was starting to drool a bit over reports and pics of Twist but BOO just found out they're on summer holiday until 8/13. However, Pierre Gagnaire will be there August 27 through September 6.
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uhockey
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6 years ago

...I'd consider driving there just to eat while Gagnaire was in town. I kinda wish you hadn't mentioned this. ;)
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Christina
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6 years ago

uhockey wrote:...I'd consider driving there just to eat while Gagnaire was in town. I kinda wish you hadn't mentioned this. ;)
I'm proud to be that type of an instigator!

Finalized our reservations for dinner:
Raku. With sake suggestions from Chowhound BarleyWino (a great friend who bought me my first daiginjo, and yes barley wine) too of Ginga Shizuku, Nanbu Bijin, or "any Nama Sake". No, I do not know how to pronounce any of those ;)
Sage at Aria
The new Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris. We've been to his flagship restaurant at Royal Hospital Road in London and loved it.

Lunches and cocktail hour TBD, though if I had my way, all cocktails would be at Vesper. Thanks everyone for the helpful suggestions!
Last edited by Christina 6 years ago, edited 5 times in total.
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uhockey
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6 years ago

Where did you read/hear about Gagnaire being there?
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Christina
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6 years ago

uhockey wrote:Where did you read/hear about Gagnaire being there?
Pierre Gagnaire Will Be in the House at Twist
http://vegas.eater.com/archives/2012/07 ... -twist.php
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uhockey
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6 years ago

.....debating the pros/cons of this drive. I guess it isn't that far - but for one meal seems a bit silly.
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Christina
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6 years ago

uhockey wrote:.....but for one meal seems a bit silly.
Not in my world ;)
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Dapuma
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6 years ago

Allegation air is super cheap uhockey to fly to Vegas - Mesa airport and it is a lot nicer than driving
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uhockey
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6 years ago

Yeah - but I'm going to Vegas in early October already. :-)
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Christina
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6 years ago

uhockey wrote:Yeah - but I'm going to Vegas in early October already. :-)
Nice!

BTW, did anybody watch the episode of Iron Chef American with McClain? It's not on again until Saturday so I can't watch it. If you saw it, do you think the special menu at Sage this weekend is worth ordering? I'm a big fan of Tony's also, and it comes with his cocktail pairing:

Shawn McClain Cooks Up His Iron Chef America Menu
http://vegas.eater.com/archives/2012/08 ... u.php#more
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