Address: Venetian Hotel, 3355 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV
Date Last Visited: December 21, 2006
Dining Partners: Rizzle-Nizzle, Summertime, Chana, Manang, Avril, and Kare-Bear
I took a trip with a few girlfriends to Las Vegas, Nevada last December to unwind from the daily stresses. This was a real turning point in my life and I just needed to escape the Bay for a little while. I think I needed it. Now that’s another issue. =)
We met with a couple of friends down there, Chana and Summertime. They told us that their Aunt invited us to have a meal at her restaurant. At first, I was not very OMG about it because I know a bunch of people whose parents own restaurants here in the area, and they were more like Ma and Pop places. It would usually be a donut shop or small café or something like that. But when they told us that their Aunt’s restaurant was INSIDE the Venetian Hotel, I began to wonder.
It turns out that Chana and Summertime’s Aunt was Chef Duff, the Executive Chef at the Tsunami Asian Bar and Grill. If you ever went to the Venetian, you might have noticed the place on the 2nd floor within the Grand Canal Shoppes in St. Mark’s Square, at the very end of the canal, where people got on the gondolas and stuff. Inside is dark and sexy. Very modern and hip. Loved it at first sight!
We were so excited because this was our first REAL dining experience in Vegas. We didn’t order anything from the menu ourselves because Chef Duff made sure we got the best things from her repertoire. So if I’m not being very vivid with my descriptions, forgive me, because we never once looked in the menu (I did do some online research, however, to get the names of some of the dishes).
The first thing she brought out was a fishbowl cocktail for the table. I don’t know how much it costs, but hearing the types of liquor they put into it, like Bacardi 151, made me believe that it was worth a pretty penny.
The next few things seemed to come to the table all at once. They brought out bowls of edamame, or in English, soybeans. You eat them like peanuts. The outside was nice and salty, just how I like it.
Do you see that big thing of lettuce? I didn’t take of a picture of it at the time, but those were used for the chicken lettuce wraps. If you look closely on the left side of the picture, you’ll see a platter. On it was a large lettuce cup that sat on a bed of crisp fried bean threads, and inside the lettuce cup was the minced chicken. Basically, you put a spoonful of the chicken mixture in the lettuce leaf, spread a hoisin-like sauce over the chicken, and then fold it like a little taco or burrito. Man, those were good. The chicken was still warm and the contrast of textures and temps went nicely together.
Next we got a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L Sushi Sampler. Doesn’t it look outstanding? Okay, let’s do some play-by-play action here:
Here we have some raw tuna, mackerel (I think), sweet prawns, and egg.
Next we have an unagi (broiled eel) roll with avocado at the top, a shrimp tempura roll in the middle, and this one I couldn’t point my finger on. I think it was spicy tuna, but it seemed like there was something extra in there. It was good though!
I think this was my favorite part of the platter: raw salmon and tuna sashimi, and spicy island poke. Poke is a raw dish that is made with raw tuna, sesame seeds, in a spicy dressing. LOVED IT! Manang and I looked at each other when we tasted it, and we just couldn’t believe how good it was. The fish was so so so fresh. It melted in our mouths. It was so luxurious!
Next we had this gargantuan plate of fried food: 5-Spice Salt and Pepper Calamari, egg rolls, and gyoza (potstickers). It was so cute how they put it in a pineapple shell. The calamari was so tender! I hate calamari rings that snap back at you like rubber bands. The sauces that came with them were so tasty, especially the soy-based sauce. What I really liked was that they were not greasy at all, and it didn’t taste like cooking oil. Each piece was perfectly cooked. Even though there were like 7 of us, we couldn’t finish this.
THEN…yes, there was MORE. They brought out Pad Thai. I don’t have a picture of that, but it was so DELISH. The noodles were nice and fluffy. Can noodles be fluffy? No, they were really soft and delicate. The pungent sauce was awesome, and I love putting lots of lime on it. YUM.
And then we were brought this pretty plate of chicken. Not sure exactly the name of it, but it’s an orange chicken/Kung pow-like dish, but not as spicy. Big pieces of chicken cooked with cashews, red and green bell peppers served in a bowl of fried noodles. I swear, I didn’t have the capacity to each much more. I did have one piece of the chicken with a spoonful of steamed white rice and it was lovely.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we finished the fishbowl. It took 7 girls, but we did it! Honestly, it didn’t even taste like there was even alcohol in it. It tastes like juice, but I did FEEL it a little bit. There WAS alky in it, for sure.
Finally came dessert. I think someone forgot to take pictures because we were all so excited to dig in! We had three desserts brought out. One was a plate of fresh mochi (ice cream wrapped in dough). Second were fried wontons that were filled with a creamy chocolate-raspberry filling. Oh my, I’m not a raspberry fan, but this was so good. Dessert wontons? That’s genius! Next was a fried banana dessert with ice cream. Oh jeez, I love fried bananas!
And this is what our table looked like at the end of the meal. Yes, we killed dessert. It was so good. *sigh* I can feel myself getting full from thinking of all this food. This has got to be one of the best dining experiences of my life. The staff was so nice to us and Chef Duff was so generous for treating us like celebrities.
I loved how she sat down with us and told us stories about the many celebrities who came and dined and even celebrated their birthdays there. She told us about Little John and Eminem. That was just awesome just to converse with her. I felt so fortunate to eat here. Chef Duff didn’t even let us pay for anything. The least we could do was pay for the wait staff’s tip. I don’t even know what the total check was. I felt so lucky to be sitting there with executive chef the restaurant. Truly unforgettable. Chana and Summertime are LUCKY to have her as an auntie.
Now here’s the bad news. Tsunami closed its doors at the end of 2006. A Mexican restaurant took its place, but Chef Duff is still involved with it. All I can say is that I am happy that I got the chance to have an extraordinary experience here before it closed. I surely wish it were still open! The food and Chef Duff were wonderful.