What’s with all the seawater flooding Vegas? Earlier today I scanned Bloomberg.com as I usually do to see which way the wind was blowing in the financial world and noticed Ryan Sutton’s article about Vegas casual dining. I am a fan of Sutton’s and seek out his work on Bloomberg regularly. In the article Sutton describes a Turbot poached in Hawaiian Ocean water at Michael Mina’s American Fish located within the new Aria Resort and Casino in the CityCenter complex (which itself may be underwater). Michael Mina is one of the most talented chefs in the country so it took me a moment to get over my initial tinge of envy that Sutton had a chance to eat at his new place. As my envy subsided it was replaced by a sense of wonder why Mina would import ocean water from Hawaii for a dish in bone dry Las Vegas. Mina is not alone; this is the second restaurant that I know of in Vegas using seawater in a dish.
During a trip to Las Vegas back in December, 2009, Charlie Trotter and I bumped into each other at an event at the Venetian. After a brief chat he promptly sent for the maître d’ of Restaurant Charlie at the Palazzo Hotel so she could escort me back to the restaurant to enjoy his five course Kaiseki menu. The menu included a tuna dish topped with seawater foam. It was one of the best dining experiences I have had.
Trotter’s seawater foam was a garnish on the second course in a multi-course menu (see image to the right). The dish included, in addition to the Spanish blue-fin tuna and foam, umeboshi which is a tree fruit (ume) similar to apricot that
has been pickled. The dish was outstanding with a perfect balance of fatty tuna, sweet and sour ume and salty foam but I couldn’t help but wonder, with trepidation, where the seawater came from (Coast of Cartagena vs. the East River). Hiro, the polite, soft spoken and ultra-professional Kaiseki chef at Bar Charlie provided me the detail.