Teppan dining gets a definite upgrade at Tetsu
Wed, Oct 10, 2012 (5:03 p.m.)
Photo: Sam Morris
- Tetsu at Bar Masa
- Aria, 877-230-2742. Wednesday-Sunday, 5-11 p.m.
Tetsu is a restaurant within a restaurant at CityCenter’s Aria resort, an exclusive experience inside Bar Masa, one of the most exclusive (and expensive) places to eat in Las Vegas. Initially, this space was called Shaboo and offered articulate Japanese hot pot dinners, also with a supreme price tag. It’s a totally logical move for Aria and acclaimed chef Masa Takayama to transform it into this much more approachable teppan grill concept, which naturally complements the brilliant sushi at Bar Masa.
The prices are more reasonable: $100 for 10 ounces of Australian ribeye, $62 for lobster, $30 for duck breast. Yet the transition to Tetsu has registered only a minor blip on the Strip dining scene, just another adjustment to a spendy casino restaurant. There’s only one problem with trying to ignore or hate on Tetsu—the food is really good.
Teppan was popularized by the hokey Benihana chain, but Tetsu removes the kitsch—no stacked onion ring volcanoes or chefs catching flying shrimp in their toques—and inserts incredibly fresh, top-notch product into the process of simple preparation in front of the diner’s eyes. When you sit at one of these sleek, sizzling tables, the selection of colorful vegetables and seafood on ice that you’ll spot behind the grill is what you’ll be eating. That’s a different kind of fun.
Everything is à la carte, which sounds pricier than it turns out to be. The beef and lobster are great, the fish (turbot or salmon on my last visit) is reasonably priced, and the dark-meat chicken ($22) is a steal with its crispy skin and fantastic flavor. Choose your individual vegetables, like sweet corn, asparagus or eggplant for a few bucks each, and start it all with plump discs of spicy octopus ($9).
If you can swing it, remember that Bar Masa’s sushi and sashimi are as good as it gets. Simple yet spectacular bites like kanpachi jalapeño ($14) and wasabi-blasted akami tuna ($13) are perfect supplements to your meal. My favorite starter is oyster with a mild, slightly tart tomatillo garnish, a play on ceviche ($12). It epitomizes the clean, precise flavors that make Tetsu more than just a smart move. It’s the way teppan should be.