Chef Tetsuya Wakuda from the two Michelin star restaurant Waku Ghin in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore has expanded his service to the United States of America in our very own Las Vegas, Nevada. Chef Wakuda is one of the most celebrated chefs across the world. He grew up in Japan and first gained acclaim when he opened Tetsuya in Sydney, Australia, a restaurant consistently included on S.Pellegrino’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Tetsuya is the first global chef to be recognized by the Japanese government as Japan’s Master of Cuisine and was the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2015. Chef Tetsuya's Confit of Ocean Trout has been described as the "most photographed dish in the world."
Here is a list of all of Waku Ghin's accomplishments throughout the years:
2018 Forbes Travel Guide Five Stars Restaurant Category
2017 Singapore Michelin Guide – Two Michelin Stars
2016 Singapore Michelin Guide – One Michelin Star
2016 World Gourmet Summit – Awards of Excellence - Chope Asian Restaurant of the Year
2016 Forbes Travel Guide - One of the Finest Five-Star Properties in the World
2015 S. Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants - at No. 6
2015 World's Top 100 Restaurants; Listed #70
And here is a list of all of Chef Tetsuya Wakuda's accomplishments:
2021 Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG) 4 Chef Hats
2017 Relais & Chateaux Annual Chefs Trophy, Tetsuya Wakuda
2016 Delicious Awards, People’s Choice Winner
2016 Delicious Awards, Top 100
With all that being said, it is no wonder that Wakuda, the restaurant in Las Vegas, has so much hype surrounding its opening. Even more so, Wakuda opened in one of the oldest and most well known hotels in all of Las Vegas, the Venetian and the Palazzo. Alongside many popular and prestigious restaurants, Wakuda holds its place as one of the most anticipated and decorated restaurants in the Venetian and the Palazzo.
Wakuda's concept is Tokyo’s Golden Gai—an alluring labyrinth of alleys, mysterious doorways and tiny hidden bars, neon glow and paper lanterns. It’s where street-fashion tribes mingle with bankers, artists and world travelers. It’s where old-world Japan meets the future.
I want to begin discussing my visit to Wakuda by first stating the expense that one should expect when visiting Wakuda. To be completely transparent, my friend and I spent a total of 600 dollars plus tip at Wakuda and we were relatively full, enough to be satisfied but we could have definitely eaten more still.
Now let's actually talk about the food. The first thing we tried was their lobster with Wakuda caviar sashimi toast which comes in at 30 dollars a piece, with a two piece minimum for ordering. Each piece is quite small, I would say no more than three bites, but the experience was absolutely incredible. The lobster and toast was seriously so buttery and soft with the lovely lobster flavor coming through. The lobster and toast was perfectly complemented by the serving of Wakuda caviar which gave it a burst of flavor and a little extra texture. I seriously cannot recommend this enough, this was hands down my favorite thing from everything I tried that day and I am so glad I ordered it despite the price. I cannot justify spending 30 dollars on a single piece of food, but if you have the money and you are looking to splurge, this would be a great dish to splurge on for a truly amazing experience. And it is caviar after all so we all know how pricy that can get. Is it justified? Maybe not. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.
Next, we were recommended their Yuba which is served in a martini glass and features fresh bean curd skin from Kyoto, uni (sea urchin), fresh wasabi, and mountain caviar. This appetizer costs 40 dollars. This was hands down the second best thing from the night. If you love uni (or sea urchin) you will absolutely love this dish. It is so creamy with just the most amazing texture and not to mention the flavor was absolutely lovely, not so overpowering that you can not taste all the amazing ingredients but just enough to make it a flavorful dish. And if the word wasabi scares you a little, definitely do not fear, their fresh wasabi is used to perfectly compliment the creaminess of the dish and is not overpowering at all. Fresh wasabi is quite different from the wasabi you might be most familiar with at your local sushi spots. That wasabi is actually made with a lot of horseradish to give it its bite and can be very overpowering and unpleasant, this is not like that at all. The wasabi here is actually used expertly to complement the dish and kind of saves it from being too overly indulgent. This dish is absolutely worth it (not the most filling thing in the world though).
Next we ordered their premium sashimi platter for 225 dollars. We figured their fish would be the absolute best quality so why not splurge on some sashimi. I honestly would not recommend this and I do truly regret splurging on this as it was not worth it. Yes, the sashimi featured is some of their finest and highest end of fish including toro, sea urchin, and sweet shrimp. But I felt like the quality was not mind blowing and these are all things I could get a much lower end restaurant for a lot cheaper but pretty similar quality. One thing I learned from my trip to Wakuda is that I really should have placed more emphasis on the chef creations like the lobster toast and the yuba where the chef has space to express his creativity through his flavor pairings. All the sashimi, and later nigiri, I ordered were good but not mind blowing and I do regret not choosing more crafted dishes as opposed to just fish or just fish and rice.
I absolutely do not recommend the snow crab nigiri. Just trust me on this one, it is not worth it. It was super dry with little to no flavor. Snow crab should have never been made into a nigiri, this was a serious miss for me.
One thing I was quite disappointed about was that I actually really wanted to try their cold soba which featured several other ingredients including truffle. But unfortunately when I went, they were not having truffle available in their kitchen so I was not able to try it. I really feel like I would have had a much more exciting meal if I got to try it.
So, to conclude, is Wakuda worth it? The prices are undeniably quite ridiculous and out of range for most people to enjoy other than on special occasions, but I guess if you are going to Vegas as a tourist, you kind of are looking to splurge anyway? In that way, this may be justified. At the end of the day, it is more than just the food, it is also about the entire experience. I did really enjoy the meal and the two dishes I described really did blow me away. I would say it is worth a try, but you just need to know what to order, don't make the mistake of ordering sashimi and nigiri like me! They have a lot of well known and popular items that are definitely worth a try that I didn't get to try this time, like their miso ice cream with gold leaf!
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