The morning after an intensely energetic show at Marquee, featuring the Grammy Award nominated LMFAO and nearly 3000 fellow party rockers, we woke up late, attractively disheveled, and absolutely famished.
Wazuzu, the beautiful Pan-Asian Bistro at Encore, awaited our arrival. Complete with large golden pears and a 27- foot crystal dragon keeping watch over the exquisitely designed space, the interior was casual but oh-so-snappy. A perfect glamorous lunch destination.
As an unexpected bonus, Wazuzu was both educational and delicious, thanks to the charming and incredibly knowledgeable Executive Chef Jet Tila. After learning that Pan-Asian food, with its Buddhist roots, is vegan without really trying, we were schooled on the subtleties of the five different taste sensations and how they are integrated into Wazuzu’s exotic cuisine. Chef Jet then augmented his fascinating ‘nerd-fest’ (his words not ours!) by having us taste a big hunk of seaweed, demonstrating how kombu “is the most sincere expression of umami“, the Japanese term for savoury.
A rising star in the industry, Chef Jet is the passionate man in charge at Wazuzu, as per Mr. Wynn’s specific request, and is credited for their award winning success. He has his own TV show, Chasing the Yum, went toe-to-toe with Chef Morimoto on the hit TV series Iron Chef, holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest stir fry (1805 lbs!), AND was featured with famous foodie Anthony Bourdain in his No Reservations L.A series. Thanks Chef Jet! You are hereby nominated for The Vegan Project’s Most Impressive New Pal of the Year!
Ok, let’s get to the food. To start, we tried an assortment of dim sum ($9 each) traditionally created with tapioca flour, which made it gluten free without having to ask. The Jade Dumplings and Gardein Shu Mai were both pretty yum, but our favourite was the White Lotus with pea shoots, shiitake and water chestnuts.
We found out later that Mr. Wynn’s favourite sushi roll is the Vegan California Roll ($12), and that Wazuzu is the only place that satisfies his discerning sushi taste. We enjoyed the texture of the Crunch Roll ($18), topped with crispy Japanese rice crackers and stuffed with string beans, avocado and cucumber. The Shiitake Nagi ($12), however, was more flavourful and savoury (I mean umami) with roasted mushrooms and a vegan eel sauce, so it was our preference of the two.
Honestly, that probably would have been enough, but there were so many enticing options that we simply had to risk looking gluttonous in order to sample the wide scope of Wazuzu offerings.
The Crispy Tofu with Green Beans and Mushrooms ($18) was a saucy side dish with impressive quantity, the leftovers of which we were grateful for later on in our hotel room.
The California Fried Rice ($16) was a hearty, lightly flavoured choice, with brown rice, ample edamame, asparagus, scallions and tofu.
The Drunken Noodles (we chose level three spicy with tofu…$21) were among our faves. Fortunately a level three at Wazuzu didn’t pack too much heat, because our volatile and sensitive stomachs would have retaliated had they been mocked with a super-spicy addition. This dish was made with fresh rice noodles (gluten free), sweet Thai basil, onions and just the right amount of chilies. You’ll notice the slight smear on the side of the bowl in this picture, the result of Bridget being unable to contain herself from sheisting a piece of bok-choy before we had a chance to take the pic. “It just looked so good!” She exclaimed.
Speaking of Buddha, our bellies were getting ready to be stuffed between our two-pieces for the Tao Beach pool party later that afternoon. But alas, there was still one thing we had forgotten: Vegan Pad Thai! ($17) Our waitress was potentially questioning the validity of our hunger at this point, but holding back was simply not in line with true Vegas style, so we ordered it anyways. The Pad Thai was a classic with tamarind, peanuts and bean sprouts, but it needed a little something to perk it up, and the hot sauce did just that.
Just like the day prior at Tableau, we were ready to make like babies and head out (we swear!) until tempted with a dessert that sounded worthy of a vegasm. Spattered with sticky caramel and smothered in coconut whip…er, ice cream, The No Guilt Vegan Chocolate Brownie Sundae ($12) was true to title. We felt no guilt whatsoever.
Many thanks to Chef Jet, Mr. Wynn and the notably attractive and well-informed staff of Wazuzu. Our inspiring and satisfying lunch fuelled us for the rest of our last night in Vegas.
To check out the full vegan offerings at the Wynn and Encore, view all of their Vegan Menus.
Stay tuned for Part 3: American-style Italian fine vegan dining at Sinatra.
~The Vegan Project