Look out, Las Vegas. Now coming to Chinatown, Jet Tila, the former executive chef at Wazuzu at Encore Las Vegas who makes his triumphant return to Sin City with a dessert restaurant that promises to turn the world of ice cream on its collective ear.
Tila calls Kuma Snow Cream an Asian-driven dessert that he wanted to make more mainstream. "It feels like powdered snow and eats like ice cream," he says of his sort of shaved ice restaurant opening next week on Thursday.
"I think most people who know me as a chef first and foremost but also a businessman," he says. "Shaved ice is on fire in Asia. We wanted to get in quick and early. It's the next ice cream. The next Pinkberry."
The experience starts with a flavor of snow cream in vanilla, mango, green tea and taro. Then guests can add 24 different toppings in hot, cold, dry and fresh fruit. Top it all off with a drizzle of one of four sauces. Tila is even experimenting with adding alcohol to the mix.
For the diet conscious, know the snow cream has a quarter of the fat of ice cream. Expect to find T-shirts and plushies with the adorable polar bar logo on it (Kuma means polar bear in Japanese). Fans on Facebook and Twitter will land early access to the dessert restaurant just for following.
Tila also has The Charleston in Santa Monica with gastropub fare and cocktails. "I feel like Vegas is my home. Vegas will the gauge of how far and how fast we take this thing. We could have opened in New York or Los Angeles first. I specifically wanted to be off Strip," Tila says.