Kumi Japanese Restaurant + Bar
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Five years ago Restaurant Hospitality editors had the pleasure of eating at Yellowtail Sushi Restaurant & Bar at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. We were so impressed with the newly enshrined executive chef there, we declared him a Rising Star. Since then, Akira Back and Yellowtail have won numerous awards, including the Korean-born chef being named the “Best Chef in Las Vegas.”
Earlier this summer, Back and The Light Group once again teamed for another new restaurant, Kumi Japanese Restaurant + Bar at Mandalay Bay. Kumi features Back’s signature Korean-American twist on traditional Japanese dishes and is a bit edgier than Yellowtail.
“The approach is more of an all around mix of Japanese, Korean and American ingredients and flavor profiles,” says the Colorado-raised chef and former professional snowboarder of the difference between the two. “Coming up with the menu gave us more freedom to experiment with flavors that weren’t so traditional, yet familiar enough for our guests to feel both comfortable and adventurous.”
Although the restaurant officially opened on July 24, several dishes have already become favorites. The Crispy Rice, a cool shared plate for $17 featuring soft blackened tuna, sweet seaweed and Back’s spicy Screaming O Sauce, is a “dish packed with so many flavors and textures it pretty much hits you on all levels,” he says. The Rock Shrimp Tempura, a warm shared plate for $16, sounds like a pretty standard offering, but Back says it’s not: “Nobody has it like we do. We took something as simple as sriracha sauce and ranch dressing and made it work.”
Two signature rolls—Pop Rockin’ (spicy tuna, crab, salmon, avocado and Pop Rocks) and 007 Octopussy (crab salad, spicy octopus and crispy potatos), both $19—illustrate the restaurant’s more adventurous side. “It’s definitely part of being modern and hip,” he says, adding the restaurant’s design matches the menu. “Having a DJ booth, crazy lighting fixtures, cherry blossom covered walls in a dimly lit room surrounded by beautiful wood brings a certain type of sex appeal and good vibes.”
The 10,000 square-foot space offers seating for up to 300 in multiple dining areas. The sushi bar, with its glazed cobalt blue tiles in a scalloped pattern inspired by common Japanese homes, is the centerpiece of the main dining room decorated with raw natural woods, steel accents and splashes of red lacquer.
Rx Boiler Room
The Shops at Mandalay Bay
3930 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Rick Moonen transforms his fine-dining concept (RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay) into a more approachable restaurant and lounge featuring a “cool and funky mix of old and new.” With décor reminiscent of industrialism from the Victorian Era, Rx offers Moonen’s spin on comfort food classics and hand-crafted cocktails. The eclectic interior is a modern take on the steampunk sub-genre of science fiction inspired by the industrialized Western world of the 1800s. The menu—actually the “nourishment chart”—features “dips and bites” like Chicken Pot Pie Nuggets ($8) and Braised Oxtail Croquettes Dijonnaise ($9) and entrees like Bucket of Crispy Fried Game Hen ($16) and Shellfish Shepherd’s Pie ($30).
3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Tom Colicchio takes open flame cooking to another level with his latest concept. The menu focuses entirely on cooking over fire, using a charcoal grill, wood-burning oven and a Grillworks Infierno, a versatile grill that also serves as a hearth, smoker, broiler and more. “There’s something inherently wholesome about cooking over an open flame,” says the James Beard Award winning chef and head judge of Top Chef. Signature dishes include the New York Strip Steak with Pepper Chutney and the Duck Breast with Duck Chorizo and Smoked Peaches. Located within the Mirage, Heritage features a rustic design that matches the approach to cooking, with a glowing hearth and an expansive photomural featuring charred firewood.
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Michael Mina’s new casual tavern-style restaurant blends unexpected flavors and textures into classic American pub favorites, while offering an expansive selection of craft brews and cocktails. The energetic bar area includes lively music, darts and ping pong. “I want Pub 1842 to be a place where guests linger long after they have finished their meal to enjoy a few beers, play some games and maybe make new friends,” says Mina, a more familiar face in the world of fine-dining. Named for the year modern Pilsner beer was invented, Pub 1842 features 24 taps and 60 kinds of beer, new takes on classic cocktails (plus individually bottled and carbonated “Fizzy Lizzy Drinks”) and whimsical dishes like Crab Louis Deviled Eggs, Lobster Corn Dogs and a Peanut Butter Crunch Burger with bacon jam, potato chips and pimento cheese.
Five50 Pizza Bar
ARIA Resort & Casino
3730 Las Vegas Blvd.
The first casual concept from James Beard award-winning chef Shawn McClain offers wood-fired pizzas, flavorful small plates, artisanal charcuterie, international cheeses, seasonal salads, handmade pastas and a large selection of craft beers. David Rockwell designed the industrial-chic space that marries the nostalgia of a classic pizzeria with the energy of an edgy and vibrant bar scene. McClain brings his farm-fresh approach to the pizzeria, featuring wood-fired pizzas cooked at—you guessed it—550 degrees, Italian-inspired specialty dishes and home-style desserts. Craftsmanship is central to Five50: The diverse menu focuses on the finest natural ingredients, while the design is all about the finest natural materials. The Rockwell Group created and chose furniture from small U.S. manufacturers and reclaimed materials.
Ogden's Hops & Harvest
450 S. Rampart Blvd. Suite 120
Bradley Ogden returns to Las Vegas with the opening of Hops & Harvest, a 180-seat upscale pub showcasing his James Beard Award-winning farm-to-table fare. A partnership with his son and chef Bryan Ogden, Tony Angotti and Epicurean Ventures brings Ogden to the city’s Tivoli Village shopping and dining destination. Handcrafted cocktails, craft beers and American wines complement his signature dishes like Sweet Peas Ravioli with fava beans, thumbnail carrots, hazelnuts and pea shoots; Bellweather Farms Carmody Grilled Cheese Bites with grain mustard and toasted rye bread; Grilled Skirt Steak Salad with Bibb lettuce, asparagus, chimichurri vinaigrette; and Bradley’s Signature Butterscotch Pudding with warm snickerdoodle cookies. The contemporary space features a loft-like design and spacious outdoor dining.
The Forum Shops at Caesars
3500 South Las Vegas Blvd.
The famed New York Italian restaurant launched in Las Vegas in a big way. The 27,000 square-foot space contains 750 seats, nine private dining rooms and a menu of “wow sized” portions of Southern Italian cuisine. Designed by Bill Johnson of Johnson Studios, the restaurant features the trademark touches in Carmine’s five other locations: high ceilings, antique chandeliers, warm, homey colors and walls lined with black and white photos depicting the Southern Italian families that inspired the menu. Signature dishes include the nine-inch high Eggplant Parmigiana, Chicken Contadina and pastas like the Linguine with Clam Sauce, Rigatoni Country Style and the classic Meatballs, which includes six oversized beef or veal meatballs on top of the guest’s choice of pasta.