Meet Min Kim, the award-winning chef of Mizumi at Wynn Las Vegas
By David Morris
Even after nearly a decade, Mizumi is still one of Las Vegas’ hottest Japanese eateries. While we love the Wynn’s ability to procure the best culinary products the world over and showcase them in one of the city’s most stunning rooms (yes, it boasts not one, but two massive waterfalls), it is the arrival of Chef Min Kim that has us truly excited. The Korean-born Kim found his way to Wynn Palace on Macau’s Cotai Coast by way of some of Australia and Tokyo’s most exalted dining rooms. Having earned two Michelin stars while in Macau, it’s no surprise that Kim was one of CEO Matt Maddox’s favorite chefs. Rumor has it that Maddox himself recruited Kim to Vegas and that is certainly a major boon for the city.
For Kim, “Working in a Japanese kitchen is all about the details and precision. And that is something I learned from my time in Japan. Without having a high level of self-discipline, it is almost impossible to survive in that environment. In Japan, you are constantly working and have to give up your personal life to become a chef in a top restaurant. When others work 90 hours, you put in 100. If they work 100 hours, then you work 110 hours to stay ahead. That whole process shapes you to become a great chef. My time in Tokyo was probably the most valuable time of my career and elevated me to the next level. And that is type of the mentality I’m trying to pass down onto my cooks here in Mizumi.”
So what of Kim’s cooking at Wynn Las Vegas? Well, for starters, he has set out to curate an original menu that is inspired by his work in Macau. And expect it to evolve. “Four times a year. I strongly believe in the importance of seasonality especially when you are dealing with Japanese cuisine” says Kim. What is amazing is that this is demonstrated across a variety of Japanese cuisines. While most traditional Japanese chefs focus on one particular type of cooking, Kim applies authentic and contemporary technique to Kaiseki, Teppan, Robatayaki Tempura and Sushi.
Stand outs here include wild snapper sashimi usuzukuri that is brightened and balanced by a citrus kick and bluefin tuna tataki in a ponzu emulsification topped with a carbonized leek powder to start. Follow up with a light and delicate selection of tempura, traditional charcoal grilled robatayaki and their absolutely incredible miso marinated toothfish saikyo-yaki. This take on Chilean sea bass may well be the single best dish we’ve had in the past year. For those looking for beef choose from a selection Kagoshima, Hokaido Snow and Kobe beef that start at A5 and go up to A12 quality. Feel free to cook it yourself (ishiyaki-style) on hot stones or opt for a more traditional prep. Don’t forget to save room for some nigiri (sushi), maki (rolls) and dessert.