clock menu more-arrow no yes
A Japanese man in a white chef’s coat
Tetsuya Wakuda opens his first restaurant in the United States at the Palazzo in early 2022.
Marina Bay Sands Singapore

Filed under:

Tetsuya Wakuda Opens His First Japanese Restaurant in the United States at the Palazzo in 2022

John Kunkel of 50 Eggs Hospitality combines the intrigue of Tokyo’s Golden Gai with Wakuda’s exceptional omakase dishes

Restaurateur John Kunkel of 50 Eggs Hospitality has a lock on restaurants at the Venetian and Palazzo. His Yardbird Southern Table & Bar brings his delightfully crunchy fried chicken and Southern fare, while Lorena Garcia’s Chica offers of a world of Latin cuisines stretching across South America. Poolside respites Spritz Restaurant & Bar and Capri Pool Restaurant & Bar keep sun worshippers fed and quenched.

Now Kunkel turns his eye toward Japanese cuisine when Wakuda opens at the Palazzo in early 2022. Chef Tetsuya Wakuda earned accolades at his two-Michelin-Star Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands Singapore and his popular Tetsuya’s in Sydney, Australia. In Las Vegas, Wakuda promises his first high-end Japanese restaurant in the United States, taking over the former Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro space with a patio on the Las Vegas Strip at the front of the Palazzo after the steakhouse opted not reopen.

The restaurant takes its inspiration from the Shinjuku Golden Gai area of Tokyo, famous for its nightlife with more than 200 diverse and eclectic tiny bars in a six-block area. Most bars are only large enough for a handful of patrons, and the dark corridors and rundown atmosphere create a unique and hard-to-replicate experience. “It’s really this whole other Japan that I don’t know that everybody gets a chance to see,” Kunkel says of the kids break dancing on the corner and neon that he found there. At Wakuda, he hopes to transport customers to a space that combines old Japanese traditions with edgy, upbeat sophistication, using nooks and crannies for seating areas that offer a different experience no mater where a customer sits.

Wakuda the chef, who plans to be very hands on with the restaurant, opts to bring an approachable omakase experience, touching on some of his classic dishes such as ocean trout confit, perhaps his best known dish, along with yakitori and dishes cooked over binchō-tan.

Kunkel met Wakuda when he worked on opening Yardbird in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands. “It was my first dinner reservation when I went there and it was an epic, over-the-top experience at Waku Ghin,” Kunkel says.

At Waku Ghin, Wakuda serves pastas, donburis, and bar bites such as lightly poached octopus, wild caught chutoro tuna carpaccio, and a fried marinated chicken as starters, along with charcoal grill beef, fregola with abalone, and spaghetti with king crab.

Tetsuya’s opened in 1989 in Sydney, Australia, and moved into larger space in 2000. Wakuda’s Michelin two star Waku Ghin opened in 2010 at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore with a 10-course tasting menu. Wakuda picks up on Kunkel’s original plans to open a restaurant called Golden Gai at the Palazzo that initially started in 2019.

John Kunkel’s 50 Eggs to Import a Taste of Tokyo to the Venetian [ELV]

Tracking the Huge Restaurant Changes Coming to the Venetian and Palazzo [ELV]

The Palazzo

3325 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 607-7777 Visit Website

Spritz Restaurant & Bar

3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S. , Las Vegas, NV 89109 702-805-8472 Visit Website

Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro

3325 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 607-6333 Visit Website

Chica

3355 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (702) 805-8472 Visit Website

The Venetian

3355 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 414-1000 Visit Website

Golden Gai

3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (702) 297-6541 Visit Website

Capri Pool Restaurant & Bar

3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109 Visit Website

Wakuda

3325 Las Vegas Boulevard S. , Las Vegas, NV 89109 Visit Website
Eater Tracking

Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles Shutters on the Westside, Relocating to the Hughes Center

Pop-Ups

LA-Based Food Trucks Killer Ice Cream and Happy Ice Roll Through Las Vegas

Cause of the Fire That Destroyed Mt. Charleston Lodge Ruled Undetermined

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Las Vegas newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world