Sweets Raku (Las Vegas, NV)

Sweets Raku
5040 W Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Dining date: 5/8/14

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Raku has consistently grown in popularity in recent years, drawing a lot of attention for its off-strip izakaya. Known for a while as a local/insider spot that a lot of chefs visited, it’s really blown onto the scene even having an appearance on the current season of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Its success has led to the opening of a dessert shop located in the same plaza – Sweets Raku. Raku is a tough act to follow, but reviews of Sweets Raku have been very strong in its first year.

13 seats surround a pristine white bar with two tables that seat four each. It’s an intimate spot, and each bar seat comes with a full view of dessert preparations. The restaurant’s attention to detail is on display, kind of reminding me of e by Jose Andres. However, this is an entirely different experience and meal.

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sweets raku

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Yusho (Las Vegas, NV)

Yusho
Monte Carlo Resort and Casino
3770 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/7/14

Yusho is one of the more notable openings in Las Vegas this year at the Monte Carlo. A Chicago transplant, Yusho’s original location became popular for its concept inspired by a Japanese noodle house/yakitori shop. Matthias Merges, who worked almost a decade and a half under Charlie Trotter, went a completely different route from his fine dining background for this one. Ramen, of course, is on the menu, as well as a number of grilled and fried items and a handful of steamed buns. The restaurant is very casual, colorful and playful. I was invited in, bringing my parents along to try.

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DB Brasserie (Las Vegas, NV)

DB Brasserie
3355 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/8/14

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Daniel Boulud’s re-entry into Las Vegas was this past month, when he opened DB Brasserie at the Venetian Hotel. His first venture, Daniel Boulud Brasserie at the Wynn, did not last too long closing four years ago. I actually dined there on its last night of service, and came full circle to dine here during its grand opening. While the restaurant technically began service at the end of April, it timed its grand opening with Vegas Uncork’d week for maximum impact.

In a city where seemingly every big-name chef has a presence, it seemed as if it was just a matter of time until Daniel Boulud returned to Las Vegas with another restaurant. The remaining question was what type of place it would be – a bastion of fine cuisine modeled after NYC’s Daniel, a reincarnation of Boulud’s old brasserie serving French bistro classics, or something entirely different? As it turns out, Boulud’s latest is similar to his last Vegas venture in both name and menu, focusing in on French fare in a casual environment. There are some American influences too however, most notably in a menu section devoted to some of Boulud’s burgers.

This post recaps two parts of the same evening – the grand opening party and a “regular” sit down meal. I brought my mother as a +1 to the grand opening, meeting up with the rest of the family for dinner.

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Vegas Uncork’d 2014: Michael Mina’s Pig Roast and Beer Garden (Las Vegas, NV)

Vegas Uncork’d 2014: Michael Mina’s Pig Roast and Beer Garden
MGM Grand
3799 South Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/9/14

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There was a lot of variety across the 31 events during this year’s Vegas Uncork’d. Of course there are the tasting events, cooking demos and exclusive sit-down meals, but this year stretched to cocktail demos, a golf event and even a night clubbing at Hakkasan. Somewhere in that spectrum was this event at the MGM Grand’s pool area, hosted by chef Michael Mina. Dubbed a pig roast and beer garden, it featured a whole roasted pig and BBQ favorites with a handful of side dishes prepared by Mina’s own Pub 1842. Heineken, Newcastle, Dos Equis, and Goose Island brought the beer while Don Julio, Grey Goose and Doña Paula winery completed the drink offerings. $125 purchased a ticket to the all-you-can-eat/drink event.

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Vegas Uncork’d 2014: Grand Tasting (Las Vegas, NV)

Vegas Uncork’d Grand Tasting
Caesar’s Palace: Garden of the Gods
3570 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/9/14

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This weekend marked the eighth annual Vegas Uncork’d wine and food event. Spanning 31 events over 4 days, it continues to be one of the largest of its kind in the nation. I’ve mentioned it before, but Las Vegas is an ideal city for such a festival. Event spaces and hotel rooms are plentiful, and the city’s hunger for “celebrity chef” restaurants has created such a conglomeration of high-profile chefs in one city. They may never actually cook in their kitchen, but they’re well-represented during Uncork’d week.

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The Grand Tasting is the singular event that allows the most variety of food, wine and chef access for one ticket of admission ($225). Over 50 restaurants were represented with many more vintners and spirits. It’s truly a sight to behold. This would be my fourth year attending the Grand Tasting (also see 2012 and 2013 posts).

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Gordon Ramsay BurGR (Las Vegas, NV)

Gordon Ramsay BurGR
Planet Hollywood
3667 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/12/13

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Gordon Ramsay has been a busy man in Las Vegas, opening three restaurant concepts in three different hotels within about 8 months’ time. His latest is his most casual and approachable – a burger joint within the Planet Hollywood hotel. Coming off of dinner the previous night at Gordon Ramsay Steak, this would be our second consecutive red meat meal from Ramsay.

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