The LEDs are bigger and brighter. The food is more diverse. The artworks are more defined. And they even have a sports team now! Yes, the Las Vegas Strip has been an ever-changing beast, but some of the changes across the last two years have been amongst the biggest the Strip has experienced for decades.
At the heart of these changes are two outdoor areas, the three acre development The Park and The Linq promenade, which are serving to redefine Las Vegas’s iconic strip. With most new attractions in the last decade bringing guests into the desert destination’s much welcomed air conditioning, these are the first major outdoor additions in some time. Part of the change has to do with a new philosophy: the strip isn’t just for tourists. The Park in particular has been designed with locals in mind, as the strip is set to welcome their first NHL team, theVegasGoldenKnights, for the 2017-18 season.
An outdoor“park” serves as the centrepiece for the area, with the stunning artwork Bliss Danceas its heart; a mammoth, breathtaking structure of a nude female that was originally engineered for the 2010 Burning Man festival, which takes place about eight hours drive away in the Black Rock Desert. It’s over 12 metres tall, weighs 3,400 kilos and contains some 3,000 LED lights which light her up in the evening.
The T-Mobile Arena, the city’s largest indoor venue, is the main attraction, stuck in between hotels New York, New York and Monte Carlo. Later this year, it will serve as the home for the city’s first NHL Ice Hockey team, for which the venue was built as a co-venture between MGM and AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group). In the meantime, the venue holds concerts and other sporting events. The indoor, 5200 seat Park Theatre also sits as part of the area’s attractions, which is welcoming the likes of Ricky Martin, Bruno Mars and Cher is upcoming mini-residencies.
Dining is a big part of Vegas and the options in The Park continue that trend…
Also in the park is Sake Rok, one of the city’s most exciting new dining attractions. It’s an experience in itself, with dancers and incredible presentations of their menu.
As you approach Sake Rok, you immediately hear yelling over a loudspeaker and wonder if it’s the destination you actually set out for. Is everything alright in there? Well, as it turns out, everything is more than alright.
Half entertainment, half fine dining, Sake Rok presents itself as a 360-degree experience from the second you walk in. Live DJ, professional dancers, outrageous presentations for every dish, and meticulously curated local art sprawled across the interior, nothing about the restaurant is lacking. Yet as the encompassing experience ensued, executive chef, Joseph Mosconi, took the spotlight.
Seriously, presentation does not take the backseat at this restaurant. Preceding all dishes, a Japanese whiskey flight adorned in a backlit, smoked Applewood box landed on the table and smoke poured across the table. Iwai, Akashi, Ichiro, and Yamazaki whiskies provided a beautifully abrasive palate cleanser between the Togarashi seared salmon bedaubed in Ponzu sauce, the Pork Belly with sweet potato puree and preserved lemon, and the Salt and Pepper Shrimp with shiso aioli.
Already satisfied with the appetizers, perhaps the most impressive show was the Ishiyaki Hot Stone –literally a slab of near-molten rock served as a tool to manually prepare your Australian wagyu striploin, served with aji amarillo, ponzu, and black truffle vinaigrette sauces. As if it wasn’t enough, the Elote faux Japanese soul food, Omakase Sashimi course and finale of the “Godzilla” cocktail made sure that the guest was completely KO’ed.
The staff is either a professional server, or professional dancer. Whichever one they are, they receive free training each week for dancing and hospitality service. It builds community and provides a new world for the staff to engage in. The staff seem to truly love Sake Rok, and it translates to your table.