"Asian fusion is so...2008!" proclaims a Barbie blonde holding court in the Wazuzu restaurant at the new Wynn Encore resort in Las Vegas. Like many of the glamorous diners at this most exotic restaurant, Barbie conducts herself with the air of a sophisticated â€śfoodieâ€ť - a term used to describe an individual who is always the first to check out a new restaurant or identify a new cuisine trend.
What Barbie does not yet realize is that the cuisine at Wazuzu is not Asian fusion. Instead, it is Pan Asian Bistro. So, whatâ€™s the difference? According to Chef Jet Tila, the term refers to Asian food in its purest form. Unlike Asian fusion, which mixes all Asian flavors together, Chef Jet offers dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea, and Japan that reflect the spices and flavors of the individual region. Working with Chef Jet, Master Sushi chef Matsuura offers both traditional and innovative sushi and a daily "tank-to-table" special.
Before delving into the cuisine, allow me to set the scene. Wazuzu is gorgeous with vibrant orange silk draperies and distressed bleached wood wall panels, resulting in a look both modern and striking. Barbie looks good here. So does everyone else with the flattering and rather dramatic lighting.
The intimate, yet open room faces the very active casino floor, so you can people-watch the international crowd at the slot machines or peek sideways at your smartly dressed fellow diners. Like virtually all Wynn resort restaurants, the dress code is "resort casual," yet the "Forbidden City" setting motivated me to dress to match the upscale elegance of the room. Possessing an active imagination, I fancy myself a glamorous spy in a 1940s movie. â€śCocktail, miss?â€ť
I look up at our young, pink-cheeked server who offers me the cocktail menu designed by Wynn's in-house mixologist, Patricia Richards, who has created nine specialty cocktails inspired by the flavor of Chef Jet's cuisine. Iâ€™m told Wazuzu Smash, the restaurant's signature drink, is made with Skyy Vodka, orchid mango liqueur, freshly muddled pineapple, yuzo, calpico, and ginger syrup. Hmm, tempting. But today I am looking for the perfect Asian food and wine pairing.