Nov 2011

BarMasa – Las Vegas (Aria Resort & Casino)

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

After saying hello over champagne and limoncello flights at a Diamond Sky Suite, our group was escorted downstairs for dinner at BarMasa.

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

The second course was a luxurious combination of toro tartare topped with caviar.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

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.

Bar Masa - Las Vegas

We concluded our meal by sipping warm cups of grilled matsutake mushroom soup with sudachi (round green citrus fruit).

Las Vegas Food and Wine Weekend at Aria Resort and Casino

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.

Food & Wine Las Vegas 2011

I had the opportunity to kick it with Angelo Sosa (right) for a short while at the event. We talked of the magic of cha ca Thanh Long and the short-lived but lovely Xie Xie.

Las Vegas Food and Wine Weekend at Aria Resort and Casino

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
Phone: 877-230-2742

There’s more to eat in Las Vegas…

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10 thoughts on “BarMasa – Las Vegas (Aria Resort & Casino)

  1. Holy crap, Cathy! That sounds like such an amazing experience and I can’t wait to hear about the rest of it. Can’t believe you met Masa himself! And that he personally had a hand in your dinner. Craziness.

  2. Jealous! I’m curious as to why there wasn’t any sushi served – was that just not on the menu that night?

    Now you must try Urasawa so we can hear the comparison!

  3. Darin – I was hoping for sushi too, but we ran short on time due to the F&W party, I think. Next time! And about Urasawa, does he sponsor press dinners? 😉

  4. JEALOUS!! the uni risotto looks amazing, except i’d want more than that tiny portion

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