Wynn Palace Cotai is the first stop for the gourmet traveller when it comes to all things fine and culinary in Macau.
With its smorgasbord of street delicacies and unique Macanese cuisine, Macau has long been a popular culinary stop for the food lover. But in the last decade or so, Macau has gained a reputation amongst well-heeled travellers for culinary delights of the finer variety. And while the Macau Peninsula has been the traditional draw, these days, the attention is on Cotai. The manmade island that connects Coloane and Taipa is home to Macau’s newest and finest hotels and resorts, including Wynn Palace.
A Culinary Extravaganza
The second luxury integrated resort in the Wynn portfolio, Wynn Palace Cotai is also one of the largest in Macau, with 1,706 exquisitely appointed rooms, suites and villas.
Indeed, the property is simply quite palatial as its name would suggest, complete with bespoke amenities, rare Chinese art and contemporary sculptures in fine Wynn tradition. Designed around a floral theme, the grounds are decked with sumptuous large-scale floral displays by celebrated designer Preston Bailey that are changed according to the seasons. Not surprisingly, Wynn Palace has garnered numerous awards since it opened in 2016, including Forbes Five-Star Awards for its hotel, restaurants and spa. It has also upped the luxury ante in Cotai, if not the entire of Macau, re-affirming Macau’s status as a world-class destination.
Naturally, the highly rated property has also staked its place on the city’s culinary scene with its diverse range of gourmet offerings. For an elegant affair, check out to Wynn Palace’s stellar roster of top restaurants such as Wing Lei Palace, which is renowned for its fine Cantonese delicacies; and SW Steakhouse, one of the premier steakhouses in town. Alternatively, there is also an enviable clutch of casual eateries dishing up goodies for every taste and palate, from traditional handcrafted Japanese noodles at Hanami Ramen to delectable macarons in every imaginable colour and flavour.
There is also Wing Lei Bar, a requisite stop for pre-dinner aperitifs or a night cap. The plush gilded space is visually stunning with an 18th century Italian rock crystal chandelier as centrepiece and an equally impressive menu of prized wines, specialty cocktails and premium spirits to match.
Savour Japan’s Finest
But the jewels in the crown have to be Japanese restaurant Mizumi at Wynn Palace and its Forbes five-star Sushi Mizumi.
An intimate space with just 14 seats around the sushi counter helmed by four master sushi chefs, Sushi Mizumi is modelled after Tokyo’s top sushi bars. The omakase menu is designed by chef Tsutomu Shimamiya of two-Michelin-starred Sushi Zen in Hokkaido, Japan and purveys the freshest seafood from Japan.
Mizumi at Wynn Palace, meanwhile, comprises a teppanyaki counter for an up close glimpse of culinary fireworks, three private rooms for a more intimate experience, as well as a sleek, modern dining room in rich hues of reds and browns lightly accented with gold. The latter is anchored by a stunning gilded cherry tree sculpture that cycles through the four seasons in a dramatic display of light and colour, transforming the dining experience into a multi-sensory one.
Mizumi at Wynn Palace is helmed by executive chef Min Kim, who grew up in a family-run restaurant and cut his teeth at some of Japan’s finest restaurants including two-Michelin-starred restaurant Les Créations de Narisawa and three-Michelin-starred restaurant Ryugin. Along with his team of seven Japanese master chefs, chef Kim curates and serves an exquisitely presented menu, all built on carefully sourced artisanal ingredients that are air-flown from Japan five times a week.
“Almost all of our ingredients are sourced from Japan,” says chef Kim. Pigeon and duck breast, for instance, are sourced from France. Caviar is, of course, Iranian, while truffles, depending on season, come from Australia, Italy or France. “The key to Japanese cuisine is the excellent produce,” he shares. “And that is the basis of our food at Mizumi and my own culinary philosophy. Produce is everything. So I just want to get good produce, prep it perfectly, cook it perfectly, and then present it to the customers perfectly, just the way it should be.”
To achieve this, chef Kim dedicates considerable time to sourcing the best ingredients for his restaurants. His attention to detail is impeccable, and it shows in the ingredients showcased on the menu. Sustainably fished tuna is sourced whole from a specialist in Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, air-flown to Macau, then cut according to the kitchen’s requirements. Depending on the fish and season, it is aged in ice. “Sometimes the fish’s a little bit too young, the flesh is a bit too firm, and the flavour hasn’t matured yet, so I age it, up to 18 days.” In fact, apart from shellfish, chef Kim ages most of his fish, whether for just a day or up to two weeks.
In the summer, chef Kim imports giant eels from Kyoto that weigh up to 3kg each (regular eels typically weigh in at about 600g). The eels are air-flown in live and kept in tanks until they are ready to be cooked. To ensure a smooth bite, chef Kim cuts through every single bone in the body. He then cooks it over very low heat on binchotan for a very crispy skin, and finishes with a gentle glaze of sweet soy sauce and a sprinkle of sansho pepper.
Fruit and vegetables, too, are sourced from small specialist producers in Japan. Chef Kim recounts how he once travelled to Shimoda, not far from Mount Fuji, in search of the perfect tomatoes. He found them in a tiny family-run farm just outside of the town, and now has an exclusive contract to their entire harvest. He blanches the tomatoes for a few seconds, removes the skin, then serves them chilled with a kiss of citrusy sudachi juice. “It’s one of the best dishes I have,” he declares. “The tomato is so tasty, you don’t have to do anything.”
Indeed, the devil’s in the details at Mizumi—from red vinegar for sushi rice to ensure maximum fragrance and flavour, to the 20-year-old aged black mirin for added depth in the sauces. It is hard work to maintain such standards, the chef admits, but the effort shows in signatures such as Shiso Tempura with Hokkaido Sea Urchin, which was created by Michelin-starred chef Motoyoshi Kazuhiro of Tempura Motoyoshi in Tokyo for Mizumi when the restaurant was first opened. The shiso leaf is deep-fried till golden in a crisp, delicate tempura batter, then topped with chilled Hokkaido bafun uni and a pinch of Okinawa sea salt.
There is also the steamed abalone sushi, featuring Japanese abalone slow-cooked for about 10 hours, then marinated in a special soy sauce for another six. For its sea urchin sushi, Mizumi only uses hadate uni, the crème de la crème of Japanese uni.
Another signature not to be missed is the Char-grilled Yaeyama A5 wagyu steak. Yaeyama-kyori is a special species of veal that is bred only in the Yaeyama islands in the most southwestern part of Japan. Each calf is part of a state-of-the-art traceability system to ensure the most genuine bloodlines and premium quality.
Chef Kim cooks the meat over binchotan sourced from Wakayama for a perfect smoky sear and a medium rare doneness, then pairs it with seasonal vegetables and mushrooms, alongside an egg deep-fried in breadcrumbs till crispy and golden on the outside, and still runny on the inside. The inspiration comes from sukiyaki, where egg yolk is used as a dipping sauce. “I like beef cooked over charcoal like a steak, not like sukiyaki, but I also like the idea of dipping into egg yolk, so I put the two together,” the chef shares.
But it is not just the food that makes an evening at Mizumi memorable. The restaurant also boasts one of the most impressive sake lists in Macau, specially curated by its in-house sake sommelier with some assistance from the only Master of Wine in Japan. As a result, guests can kanpai to many rare sakes exclusive to Wynn Palace, alongside small batch Japanese whiskies, craft beers and bespoke cocktails. And to pair with the fine food and drink, service—as to be expected—is impeccable.
As chef Kim points out. “The restaurant is not just about the food, it’s about the service and the ambience. It’s about the experience. I try to make sure that the whole package comes together as one piece, to give that memorable experience to every single customer that comes into Mizumi.”
A Stay to Remember
Indeed, expect service with a smile and an experience to remember not just at Mizumi, but throughout all of Wynn Palace’s 14 restaurants and eateries. Beyond its F&B offerings, guests can also indulge in the finest therapy retail can offer with over 50 designer brands under one roof; or pamper themselves with a relaxing session at the spa, the largest in Macau. In short, Wynn Palace Cotai offers the complete luxury package, and for gourmands, it proves a most enticing one at that.
Wynn Palace, Avenida da Nave, Desportiva, Cotai, Macau. Tel: +853 8889 3663.
This story was first published in Wine & Dine’s Sep/Oct 2018 issue – Behind The Scenes At Singapore’s Top Restaurants as a Special Feature.