Executive Chef Joseph Elevado’s multicultural menu at Andrea’s is as vibrant and stimulating as the music from the nightclub next door.
Kumamoto oysters are topped with smoked ponzu gelée and Indonesian sambal.
It’s almost 9, and gradually the rather calm dinner crowd at Andrea’s, the exciting new pan-Asian venue at Encore, is becoming younger and primed for action. The music is subtly and steadily growing more energetic as well, a preview of what’s next door inside Surrender, Encore’s pulsating nightclub.
But first, it’s dinnertime. Andrea’s Executive Chef Joe Elevado is highly accomplished, having trained with global superstar Nobu Matsuhisa, first in New York City after graduating from New York Restaurant School and later at Nobu Las Vegas, where he was mentored by the master himself.
“Every time I open a restaurant,” says Elevado, “I try to create a dish that pays homage to Nobu. Nobu taught me to use the best ingredients, and I reinterpret them with him in mind.”
Andrea’s Executive Chef Joseph Elevado.
A native New Yorker whose parents come from the Philippines, Elevado has experience with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino cooking styles, each of which is deftly woven into the eclectic contemporary menu at Andrea’s. The chef has an impressive résumé. He has received numerous awards, including a prestigious Mobil Four-Star Award, won while helming the kitchen at Nobu Las Vegas, which was named best Japanese restaurant by Las Vegas Magazine four years running during Elevado’s tenure. He moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to become executive chef at L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, a Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel, but Steve Wynn persuaded him to return.
“I had no intention of returning to Las Vegas,” Elevado says, “but when Mr. Wynn offered me a position, I reconsidered. I’ve been enamored of the property ever since I did an opening-night dinner here with Nobu, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Wolfgang Puck. And the network of chefs here is fantastic. I’ve never experienced such great camaraderie.”
If you’re like most people at Andrea’s, you’ll begin the festivities with a house cocktail especially designed for the restaurant by barman and World Food Championship winner Francesco Lafranconi and prominently displayed on the iPad drink menu. Ladies adore the Aphrodesiac, crafted from Belvedere Lemon Tea vodka, Apéro, and St-Germain. The restaurant’s most popular cocktail is its signature Lulu, a concoction of Grey Goose, Malibu rum, and Cointreau, served in a tall glass.
Whole crispy fish is served in a tomato and stewed-egg broth.
Getting hungry? Don’t be surprised to see a full menu of sushi, sashimi, and esoteric hand and cut rolls that you might not find in Tokyo.
Says Elevado, “My cooking philosophy is simple: I like to take foods from different cultures, be true to them, and make them contemporary and fun. As time goes by, I’ll want to push the limits and add a few Filipino items such as crispy pata, the traditional braised pork shank fried until crispy, and an adobo crab my grandmother made.”
Elevado also favors certain flavors he grew up with, especially vinegar and citrus, two components used heavily in Filipino cooking. “Japanese cuisine is mild, and Nobu told me to let the ingredients stand alone. But other Asian cuisines, such as Thai or Filipino, have stronger flavors. I love to reinterpret them.”
His take on shishito peppers, served warm in a small pot with a sprinkling of beaded arare rice crackers and a delectable mustard miso, is Japanese but completely his own invention. His Kumamoto oysters, laced with smoky ponzu gelée, Indonesian sambal (chili sauce), and spring onion, rival any on the Strip.
The lobster salad features Bibb lettuce, a parsley emulsion, and tomato.
Many dishes, such as soft-shell crab with kimchi cream, are designed to be shared. Two cut rolls, one a combination of Wagyu beef and lobster and the other a rolled cucumber with yellowtail and albacore miso cleverly stuffed inside, are both on point, but the hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi will knock your socks off. It’s made with crispy garlic, cherry peppers, cilantro, and calamansi soy sauce from the Philippines. “I love textural contrast,” says the chef, “and crispy garlic is one of my favorite ingredients.”
Dim sum are traditionally thought of as savory Chinese appetizers eaten with tea during the late morning or early afternoon, but Elevado is serving them for dinner, and they are a highlight of this menu. Crispy pork pot stickers, Gardein chick’n shumai (one of the many creative vegan offerings you’ll find throughout Wynn and Encore restaurants), and shumai steamed dumplings filled with shrimp and pork are just three varieties to tantalize and whet your appetite for the meal that lies ahead.
The perfectly marbled Wagyu rib cap.
Many Asian bases are covered. Tom kha gai, a coconut ginger chicken soup, is distinctly Thai. One could argue that Elevado’s whole crispy fish—which is unusual, by the way, in a tomato and egg broth—is similar to sinigang, a Filipino fish dish, but in this case minus the sour tang of tamarind.
If you crave something on the light side, the chili mint duck confit is brilliant, with a deliciously slow-simmered duck leg resting next to a pile of frisée, arugula, and slices of sweet orange. The lobster salad is popular: big chunks of lobster meat taken out of the shell, with Bibb lettuce, red onions, nori seaweed, and a parsley emulsion.
The star meat on the menu at Andrea’s is the eight-ounce Wagyu rib cap—simply roasted, the meat perfectly marbled, and as flavorful as the law allows. One dish made famous by Nobu is saikyo misomarinated black cod, a fish so buttery it flakes apart when prodded. Elevado’s version, marinated for up to three days, uses brown and white sugar in the marinade for an even richer, more decadent entrée. Organic Jidori chicken breast, too, is fall-apart tender, garnished with horseradish spaetzle.
Hamachi sashimi, made with crispy garlic, pickled cherry peppers, cilantro, and calamansi soy sauce from the Philippines.
Desserts are rarely a strong suit in an Asian restaurant, but Andrea’s is an exception. A nice display of exotic ice creams, presented in tiny cones on a metal tree, features flavors such as blood-orange ginger, coconut, and chocolate chili. Like so much of this menu, it’s ideal for sharing.
Many guests hit Surrender to boogie off dinner and end up staying until the wee hours. Like them, Elevado is definitely here to stay.