Photo by Anthony MairDropping your corks off at Double Helix can help to create a pair of flip-flops by Sole.
It would be tempting to call Joe Elevado the best Japanese chef in the city, were it not for the fact that his food is pan-Asian and his ethnicity Filipino-American.
Elevado is the executive chef at Social House in Crystals at CityCenter, the same position he held when the restaurant was at the TI. And he hasn’t changed the menu radically, other than adding a dish or two, such as Crispy Pata, Filipino-style fried pork shank.
The chef, now all of 36, hails from Staten Island, N.Y., where he grew up a latchkey kid. “My brother and I used to fool around a lot with cooking after school, while we were waiting for my mom to come home,” he says. “I guess I’ve always had the knack.”
He was also an avid watcher of cooking shows as a teen, pre-Food Network shows such as Julia Child’s The French Chef or Martin Yan’s Yan Can Cook. So after graduating high school, he enrolled in the New York City Restaurant School in TriBeCa, and later did an externship at the legendary Friars Club, before landing at Nobu, where he learned a fusion style from the even more legendary Nobu Matsuhisa.
At Nobu in New York City, he started as a prep cook and slowly worked his way up the ladder, first to line cook, later to sous chef. At Nobu, he learned the importance of product and how to run a kitchen. And in 1999, when Nobu was asked to open at the Hard Rock, the boss tapped Elevado to move here as that restaurant’s chef de cuisine. He held the position until 2006, when he joined the first Social House project.
“What I am trying to do at Social House is stay true to Asian cuisines,” he says. That’s why you might want to try his lumpia, which are shrimp-and-pork-stuffed egg rolls like you’d get in the Philippines, or any of his raw appetizers, such as yellowtail with crispy jalapeño, garlic dust and micro-cilantro, or oysters with salsa and garlic chips.
A few dishes on the Social House menu are traditionally Japanese, but from there the chef gets creative, inspired by his days with Chef Nobu. Seasonal vegetable tempura, for example, plays it straight, served with a daikon oroshi (grated radish dipping sauce) just as anywhere in Japan.
But his newest creation, chicken dumplings, are coated with a rich Thai Massaman curry sauce, fragrant balls of almost pure ground chicken, in a pungent yellow sauce. They are crazy good.
Elevado, as a meal at Social House will show, is comfortable in almost any cooking idiom. Las Vegas is lucky to have him.