The weekend before last, I was whisked away to Las Vegas for three days of food, wine, glitz, and glam at the Aria Resort & Casino. I was invited to the property, along with a dozen journalists, bloggers, and media types, to experience everything from a Cirque du Soleil show to spa treatments, and of course, unbelievable meals.
In addition to being spoiled at every turn, we were given access to world renowned chefs including Masa Takayama, Michael Mina, and Jean Georges Vongerichten. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I am thrilled to relive every delicious morsel in this space.
Chef Masa Takayama offers two separate dining spaces within Aria. BarMasa serves an à la carte modern Japanese menu, while Shaboo offers an omakase-style experience similar to his New York City flagship. Both spaces are minimally appointed and exquisitely cared for.
Of all the meals and events on the weekend’s itinerary, I was most excited about this one. I mean, it’s not every day that I sit down to a dinner orchestrated from start to finish by Chef Masa. This was once-in-a-lifetime stuff.
The first course was a kegani (hairy crab) sunomono comprised of sweet strands of crab meat and cucumber dressed lightly in white vinegar. The crab salad was topped with chrysanthemum petals and strongly flavored crab miso.
Someone at the table wondered aloud whether hairy crabs were actually hairy, so a fresh one was procured from the kitchen and presented to us on a platter. Let it be known that hairy crabs are in fact quite hairy.
The second course was a luxurious combination of toro tartare topped with caviar.
Using the littlest spoon ever, we scooped the toro and caviar onto toast points. The flavors were bright, salty, and clean, and I wanted more immediately.
The next dish featured kawahagi, a supple white fish, garnished with white truffles. According to Chef Masa, he came up this dish while smoking a cigar in Japan. The dish’s composition reminds him of leaves falling in autumn.
The shaved white truffles, my first ever, perfumed every chopstick-full with that certain musty something. This was my favorite dish of the night.
The first and only cooked dish this evening were skewers of chicken yakitori with green onions and teriyaki, and Wagyu beef with white onions and yuzu kosho. The slight tinge of spice on the beef gave it an upper hand over the chicken.
The fifth course was a gorgeous lobster sashimi salad with cucumber, white soy, vinegar, and tempura flakes. The raw lobster had a snappy bite that I found spectacular, but some of my table mates couldn’t warm up to it. In situations like these, there’s only one right thing to do—eat off your companion’s plate. So, I did.
The final course was a real showstopper—uni (sea urchin) risotto with white truffle. It turns out that everything tastes better with an ever-so-light sprinkling of rare tubers, even briny risotto.
Our weekend at the Aria coincided with the first annual Food & Wine All Star Weekend, which meant that in addition to the spectacular itinerary of meals, we also attended a number of tasting events and rubbed elbows with notable Top Chef alums. From BarMasa, we walked a few steps to View Bar for the “First Course Kick Off” party.
From the party, we were treated to a Viva Elvis performance.The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is alive and kicking at Aria!
Oh, what a night!
3730 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
There’s more to eat in Las Vegas…
- Bouchon Bakery – Las Vegas (The Venetian)
- Lotus of Siam – Las Vegas
- Mix – Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay)
- Oyster Bar – Las Vegas (Palace Station)
- Sen of Japan – Las Vegas