- Last Updated: 1:04 AM, June 26, 2012
- Posted: 4:17 PM, June 25, 2012
“Top Chef” winner Paul Qui of Austin’s Uchiko was all over the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, cooking at an opening party and judging the Whole Foods Fishmonger Faceoff among other appearances. And he then left Aspen and took his rising-star act to the Luckyrice festival at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The Luckyrice field was stacked with Asian-food stars from New York (Dale Talde, Eddie Huang, Angelo Sosa and Pichet Ong) alongside San Francisco’s Charles Phan and LA’s Sang Yoon, but Qui stood out with his dazzling sunchoke dashi with summer vegetables and bottarga. We also dug the fried honey-sesame chicken served over a donut with jackfruit maple syrup from Colin Fukunaga and Robert Magsalin of Las Vegas’ Fukuburger truck. And all the food was paired with Asian-inspired Bombay Sapphire cocktails from ace mixologists including Tony Abou-Ganim and the Cosmopolitan’s own Mariena Mercer. But nobody seemed to be working harder than Aburiya Raku’s Mitsuo Endo, who was grilling kurobuta pork cheeks, kobe beef and chicken meatball skewers, for a patient line of more than 75 people, long after many chefs ran out of food.
Raku, as you might know, is the robatayaki/late-night chef’s hangout that’s part of a sprawling and ever growing collection of fantastic Asian restaurants on Vegas’ Spring Mountain Road. Since we first visited Raku in 2008, the strip mall that houses it has seen the opening of ramen shop Monta, hawker stand-influenced Big Wong and hidden sushi den Kabuto. It’s hard to imagine a better collection of Asian restaurants anywhere outside of Asia that share the same address.