Restaurant News

Fun Food & Good Times at Kona Grill

     Kona Grill has two locations here in the Las Vegas area, one located in the Boca Park shopping mall at 750 South Rampart Boulevard in Summerlin, and the newest location at 3200 South Las Vegas Boulevard in the Fashion Show mall.  The latter location sits just across the Strip from the Wynn/Encore Hotel & Casino.  Even though it is a chain, the Kona Grill does not seem like one.  Both venues have an ambience that make them individually unique.

    The location in Summerlin has recently undergone a facelift renovation that vastly improved the venue.  It now has a chic, modern ambience, with an open air feeling that offers an alfresco dining option in the patio area and soaring ceilings on the interior.  The smaller Fashion Show venue is on the main level of the mall, and also features a lovely patio where diners can people watch as they munch on items from the eclectic menu.  Misters provide relief from the baking summer heat.  Both venues feature spacious long bars that separate the main dining room areas from the patios.  The outdoor dining option creates a sidewalk cafe ambience, that frankly I would like to see more restaurants in our town emulate. 

   Speaking of menus, both venues share the same food choices.  And those choices are numerous.  Creative appetizers abound, and some of my favorites include chicken & lettuce wraps, chicken satay, potstickers and spicy shrimp tempura.  Full entrees include a myriad of interesting possibilities; Macadamia Nut Chicken, Pork Tenderloin, Basil Pesto Linguine, New York Strip Steak, Jambalaya, and Pad Thai noodles, to name a few. The Pad Thai is delicious.  Kona Grill features an extensive sushi and sashimi menu, and prides itself on the freshness and quality of its seafood.   In fact one whole side of the two sided menu is completely devoted to sushi items

   Most entrees come with sides of mashed potatoes and veggies.They also offer a host of sandwiches and flatbreads.  Sandwiches include the Cuban (an amazing pressed bun with melted cheese, pickles and two kinds of pork), turkey burger, pulled pork, and chicken Caprese.  Pepperoni, Margherita, BBQ Chicken and Lobster & Tuna make up the flatbread menu.  I’ve only had one of the flatbreads, but I’d highly recommend the Cuban and Chicken Caprese sandwiches.   For lighter eaters and the health-minded, Kona Grill also offers six large salads, and several home made soups.

The bar at the Strip venue with its compelling view of the Wynn Resort...

  Most of the classes cost between $70.00 to $100.00, depending on the meal and if the guest chooses the wine pairing option.  Multiple day classes cost more.  Due to the limited seating capacity, classes tend fill up fast.  Most classes are sold out within two weeks of their scheduled performance.  Reference to the calendar on the website will keep you informed of the culinary lineup for each month, as well as how many openings remain available for each class.  Check out the website at .   Use the site for making reservations, or call the establishment at (702)754-4400.

The Kona Grill exterior on Las Vegas Boulevard...

  Most entrées are in the range of $20-$25.  Appetizers and flatbreads go for between $12-$16, and entrée salads for between $12-$18.   Sushi prices vary greatly depending on the item, but compete well price-wise with most sushi bars. 

      Kona Grill also promotes a lively happy hour from 3:00 pm until 7:00 p.m., and, at least at the Strip location, another late night happy hour that begins at 9:00 pm.  During these hours, they offer big discounts on selected drinks and sushi items. 

    As to the wine choices, I would best describe it as a comprehensive list of basic wines that would appeal to most diners.  For red wines, they offer a good selection of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Syrah.  Many of their wines are sold by the glass.  Most glass selections will run between $9-$12.  Bottle prices range between $35-$125, with the vast majority costing in the $40-$75 range.  So it’s not a wine list that will break most people’s budget.  As a courtesy to its wine loving customers, Kona Grill does allow carry in bottles, and charges no corkage fee on your first bottle of wine.  That’s a great inducement to those of us who have a wine collection and enjoy drinking our own wine while dining out on the town.  

     If you’re search for some good food and a fun bar scene, either venue will not disappoint.  Call ahead if you need reservation at the Strip location (702-850-2980) or in Summerlin (720-547-5552)

   Vegas Wine News visits two compelling eateries.  The first, Kona Grill, has two venues that offer chic ambience and an eclectic menu of dining choices.  The second, Mis En Place, presents us with an opportunity for culinary adventure that combines great food with culinary instruction...

A Hands On Culinary School with Lots of Options:  Mis En Place

   For those who don’t want to work so hard, you may simply attend a dinner demonstration class, where themed meals are prepared in front of guests, and applicable recipes are supplied later by way of email.  Some of the themes for these dinners include “A night in Paris”, “A night in Barcelona”, and “A Night in Rome.”  It makes for a great date night!

   The Mis En Place cooking school in Henderson provides a compelling destination for all foodies interested in learning culinary skills or just seeking to enjoy a freshly cooked-before your-eyes gourmet meal.  It’s a one of a kind opportunity in our area.  Mis en Place differs from other cooking schools in that it does not require a long term commitment to a multitude of classes.  Simply refer to their monthly calendar of events, and sign up for the most desirable class.

   Owner, and sometimes on site chef, Marcus Fortunato, started Mis En Place here after a successful business career in high tech innovation.  But his love of cooking goes all the way back to his youth.  Originally from Brazil, Marcus has traveled the world taking culinary classes and cooking alongside some of the most famous chefs, including the French prodigy Alain Ducasse.  He spared no expense in putting together the innovative  kitchen used by Mis En Place.  Equipped with cutting edge cooking gadgetry, such as Sub-Zero Wolf appliances, Le Creuset cookware and French Mauviel copper pots, the sparkling kitchen represents every chef’s dream.

    Even if you are not really interested in the culinary arts, these dinners provide a delightful opportunity to sample a gourmet meal from the themed area, and learn some things about their traditions and culture that affects the tradition of local cooking.  For example, at a recent “A Trip to Emilia-Romagna” class, Marcus explained the entire complicated process of traditional balsamic vinegar, a staple of local cooking.  He used visual aids as well as products from that region of Italy to make his points. 

    For all of us who appreciate wine, many of the courses involve pairing wines with the food of the evening.  Most of the themed classes include an option for tasting indigenous wines from the same region as the food featured in the evening’s meal.  These courses usually include an explanation of the wine served, along with insight into the cultural relationship between the regional cooking and the paired wine.   They even offer some signature wine classes, where the focus is on the wine.  Meals are prepared to pair specifically with the featured wine.

   Mis En Place offers a great variety of options.  All classes take place in the high-tech kitchen under the tutelage of cooking professional, with experienced chefs orchestrating the demonstration.  The kitchen seats a maximum of 18 people for themed dinners, and usually 12 for the hands-on instruction.

   For those interested in the hands-on cooking experience, sign up for the flash and gourmet classes.  These two hour classes center on learning to prepare certain specific foods, such as steaks and sauces, or Asian stir fry.  The classes last about two hours and students prepare the food themselves, under the guidance and watchful eyes of knowledgable instructors.  Mis en Place offers more intensive immersion courses by way of their two day “boot camp” courses.

    Alternatively, guests may choose to hone specific cooking skills by attending a skills and techniques class, such as knife skills or molecular gastronomy class.  The latter involves teaching new cutting edge techniques and tools in food preparation. 

Staff and guests prepare for an Italian themed demonstration in the lovely kitchen

The staff puts the finishing touches on an arugula and flank steak crostini...

Chef Tre prepares Arancini and owner Marcus gets demonstrative while making a point in a recent Italian themed dinner...

Signage for Mis En Place culinary school at  9500   South Eastern Avenue, Henderson, NV

The finished product:  pumpkin dumplings with parmesan/cream sauce laced with balsamic vinegar...

Chicken Linguine Pesto at Kona Grill