A fresh catch at Michael Mina
Though he’s solidly a San Francisco chef, Michael Mina made his name in Vegas. The Strip is where he began building a diverse restaurant empire that now stretches across the country and includes Mina Brasserie at the Four Seasons hotel in Dubai. The cornerstone of that foundation was Aqua, the seafood restaurant that opened with Bellagio 20 years ago.
The restaurant just off the resort’s famed garden conservatory was later renovated and renamed as Michael Mina for its chef, but Mina recently decided it was time for another change. The name remains but the design has been enhanced. The bar has been made sleek and efficient, a market-fresh fish display sets a brisk new tone, an oasis of a private dining room has been added and the space feels more open and welcoming in general. But the biggest change to Michael Mina Bellagio is on the menu, marking a new dedication to unique seafood offerings that calls back to Aqua’s early days.
If you’ve been a fan, do not fret—Mina signatures are still available, including the beautiful caviar parfait with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and egg, and the inimitable lobster pot pie with rich truffle-lobster cream. But the bold new approach aims to redefine the concept of the seafood restaurant, and the kitchen’s confidence is on display in every bite.
Many Las Vegas restaurants serve a classic chilled shellfish platter and this one does, too, loaded with oysters, Maine lobster, red king crab, poached prawns and Santa Barbara sea urchin, if you want the total package. But Michael Mina breaks new ground with the hot charcoal-grilled platter option, featuring the same shellfish decorated with miso, garlic and yuzukosho, all engulfed with smoky flavor.
For fresh flavors that pop, work your way through a selection of crudos, raw bites topped with gentle herbs and dressings that complement each fish, including yellowfin tuna, red snapper and ocean trout. Sea urchin and lardo toast is a decadent small dish, a nice pairing with light, silky artichoke soup with saffron cream, lobster and notes of toasted coriander.
More Mina signatures lead the entrée options—the delectable duo of tuna and foie gras with sauce a l’orange and the phyllo-crusted sole with king crab brandade and mustard beurre blanc are both must-order dishes. But sampling the new whole-fish market program is absolutely mandatory. Diners can choose from seasonal seafood and select from three distinct methods of preparation. Current combinations could include ginger and scallion broiled branzino, Mediterranean spice-crusted and fried madai from Japan, or applewood-grilled arctic char. This meal can serve two or four, is finished and presented tableside, and each cooking method comes complete with its own vegetable enhancement. It’s all assembled with great care and something unique to Michael Mina Bellagio.
This restaurant has grown into nothing short of a Las Vegas institution. With its renewed focus, it’s never been better connected to its past while pushing into a singular culinary future.
Bellagio, 5:30-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 702.693.8865