Dinner at Tetsuya’s is an essential culinary experience in Sydney. Chef Tetsuya Wakuda is a master of composing delicate symphonies of flavors, a blend of Japanese preparations and French techniques largely utilizing the sparkling seafood he sources locally in Australia. Diners in Singapore have the opportunity to experience similar creations at his two star Michelin restaurant Waku Ghin and Wakuda Singapore which opened in April, both in the Marina Bay Sands resort. On June 25, Wakuda makes a long awaited U.S. debut opening Wakuda Las Vegas in The Venetian Resort’s Palazzo Tower.
Given his stature as a regular on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, it might have seemed more natural for Wakuda to enter the U.S. restaurant scene in a city like Los Angeles or New York. But his pick was Las Vegas. “Las Vegas attracts not only international travelers, but also the world’s best chefs,” he explains. “It has developed into a phenomenal food city and I am so pleased to open a restaurant among such fantastic company. My partner John Kunkel of 50 Eggs already has an established presence in Las Vegas through his partnership with The Venetian Resort. Presenting Wakuda in such a dynamic city is an exciting prospect.”
The overall concept will blend traditional and modern Japanese cuisine and culture with authentic sushi, omakase and izakaya selections, using the quality ingredients for which he’s famous. “Throughout my career, I have developed personal relationships with some of the world’s best producers and purveyors,” he says. “We will source the same quality ingredients that I use for Tetsuya’s for Wakuda. For Las Vegas, we plan to acquire ingredients daily that offer exemplary quality.”
Those ingredients sourced from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Europe will be featured in dishes such as grilled, koji and ginger marinated New Zealand Ora King Salmon, Botan Shrimp combined with sea urchin and Avruga caviar, Australian Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin, Canadian Lobsters marinated in citrus and vinegar with sea asparagus and shellfish vinaigrette, roasted Spanish Carabinero prawns with shellfish and miso risotto and Yaki Shabu Omi Beef showcasing the oldest Wagyu beef brand in Japan, one that is uniquely marbled, tender and juicy. Fresh oysters will be flown in from Tasmania and Japan and served with rice vinegar and ginger, kabosu vinaigrette, salted black bean, extra virgin olive oil, citrus and soy sauce with grated radish. Sushi from fish sourced in Australia and Japan will feature fresh wasabi alongside flown in from Tasmania that must be served within 15 minutes of being grated. A separate ten seat omakase room will feature a daily changing menu available in two seatings five nights a week. And sake aficionados will find 100 selections from which to choose including some exclusive to the restaurant.
To showcase all of this, designers The Rockwell Group were tasked with combining the aesthetics of Japan with the voltage of the Vegas strip, a design mix that includes sumo wrestler sculptures and Noren screens with line drawings by artist Shohei Otomo, surfaces of rough stone, wood, metals and mirrors, and a glass enclosed installation of cherry blossoms surrounded by lanterns reflecting neon lights. Above it all, the wood ceiling of the 264 seat restaurant is inspired by traditional Japanese wood joinery techniques interspersed with stacked pendant lights reminiscent of paper lanterns. With the space divided into several sections including the omakase room, a tucked away whiskey bar, main bar, lounge and patio overlooking the Strip, the overall sense is energy and restaurant as entertainment.
And it’s probably not the last design to come reflecting the trademarks of a particular city. Following this introduction, John Kunkel is looking to take the Wakuda concept on the road. New York, London and Dubai are slated to be next.