Javier’s slinks into Aria, Light Group’s Ultimate steak challenge, and the All-Stars sizzle

Shhh! While no one was looking, Javier’s, a popular, chic Mexican restaurant import from Newport Beach, Calif., opened quietly at Aria in the space once home to Union, a Light Group steak house. The new restaurant features ceviche, carne asada and Mexican classics from all over the map. Let’s wait and see if it makes a major splash. Or not.

Things are still smoking at Light Group, though. Brand, the group’s Monte Carlo steakery, is now offering a carnivore’s dream: a 120-ounce monster called the “Ultimate Steak” for $250. It’s intended for six, but in the best Man v. Food tradition, anyone who is able to eat the entire thing gets it gratis. One side and two sauces are included. P.S.: You’ll be required to finish the side, too, if you want that freebie. Choose wisely.

Food & Wine All-Star Weekend came off well, at Aria and other MGM Resorts International properties. At a tequila tasting at Diego, MGM Grand’s Mexican outpost, Chopped winner chef Christina Olivarez wowed with her cochinita piblil, whole roast suckling pig marinated in achiote (annatto seed), plus shrimp ceviche and tasty taquitos.

Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada mixology director Armando Rosario was on hand pouring Burdeos, an incredible, Cognac-like tequila with a hefty price tag of $400 a bottle. No salt, please.

The following day, there was a wonderful Champagne and sashimi tasting at BarMasa, with Masa Takayama himself and TV personality Gail Simmons. Imagine tasting Dom Pérignon and Masa’s signature toro caviar together. It’s good to be king.

The main event, a Surfside Soiree held at Mandalay Beach, featured dozens of dishes from five Mandalay Bay superstar chefs: Fleur’s Hubert Keller, StripSteak’s Michael Mina, RM Seafood’s Rick Moonen, Aureole’s Vincent Poussel and Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill.

The food was amazing, especially Keller’s baeckeoffe—literally “baker’s oven”—a slow-cooked potato and lamb casserole spooned up from a Dutch oven, and Border Grill’s grilled corn, rubbed with chili, lime, and queso fresco. The event was sparsely attended, but that made it more pleasant for the guests who didn’t encounter long lines. I can’t help think, however, that the event organizers were disappointed. Well, perhaps next year.

Finally, Zen Curry, a Japanese curry house (5020 W. Spring Mountain Road, 985-1192), has opened in Tokyo Plaza, the same mall already home to Raku, Kabuto, Monta and other good places. If you’ve never had Japanese curry, prepare for a thick, brown sludge served over rice—delicious and a staple with students in that country. Have it topped with croquettes, chicken katsu or other toppings. I’m predicting it will be a huge hit.

Hungry, yet?

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Devin Hashimoto at Mizumi

Devin Hashimoto at Mizumi

When Steve Wynn’s inevitable break with investor Kazuo Okada became official, Okada restaurant was redesigned and reimagined, eventually emerging better than ever with a new name, Mizumi. In large part, credit for that success goes to young Hawaii native Devin Hashimoto, who has successfully altered the menu with dishes such as his ishiyaki tartare bibimbap, a Korean-inspired rice bowl (the chef’s wife, Donna, is Korean-American), spicy king crab and taro tacos with a “shell” composed of the starchy root, and starters such as yellowtail sashimi and jalapeño gelée.



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