Even though chef Linda Rodriguez trained for three years under acclaimed chef Nobu Matsuhisa in New York and London, she didn't try to replicate the Nobu menu when she signed on as executive chef at Hachi, the Japanese restaurant in Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd.
Instead, she created a menu that she says takes "a different approach" to Japanese cuisine, with influences from Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Rodriguez has an extensive background in top-flight restaurants.
Born in Manila, Philippines, Rodriguez briefly lived in Japan before coming to the United States at age 7. When she was 20, she moved to Baton Rouge, La., and worked as an apprentice for two years at the traditional French restaurant, Maison Lacour. Working with French-Chinese chef Jacqueline Greaud, Rodriguez also learned Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and Cajun cuisines.
When her time there was up, Rodriguez studied at the Culinary Institute of America and, after graduating, went to work at Le Bernardin, Park Avenue Cafe, Lespinnasse and the River Cafe in New York.
She then joined Nobu in New York, becoming the first female chef to study under Nobu, and helped with the London version of the restaurant, where she met her future husband, Liverpool-born chef Martin Swift, who serves as the room chef at Hachi. In 1998, Rodriguez came back to the United States and spent nine years as executive chef at BondSt in New York.
Swift, meanwhile, was senior sous chef at Nobu in London, and has worked at BondSt, Tao and Ten Sushi and Thom in New York City.
Coming from New York to Las Vegas, Rodriguez has found that "there are more people here who are knowledgeable about sushi than I thought there would be."
She and Swift have tried out other Japanese restaurants in the city and have found a lot of them to be "hit and miss. I've always felt that consistency is the most important part of a restaurant. We always try to keep the consistency at a high level so we keep people coming back."
Using a print of Japanese neo pop artist Takashi Murakami's manga-influenced "Jellyfish Eyes" as its centerpiece, Hachi's design incorporates a wall of cherry blossom photographs; 2,500 blown glass cherry blossoms hanging from the ceiling; black marble floors; a three-ton granite table from Vermont; and a 21-foot-tall sake bottle display.
Besides the bar-lounge area, sushi bar and main dining room, Hachi has three tatami tables with sunken floors for comfortable seating and a view of a water feature outside the windows.
Sushi chef Luna Cesario Fernando has worked as sushi chef at Nobu in New York, training under chef Masaharu Morimoto and was lead line cook at BondSt, working with Rodriguez.
Hachi, which offers more than 30 varieties of sake and has a sake sommelier on staff, seats 220.
Hours are from 5 to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Reservations are recommended by calling 797-7576.
Starters: Cold dishes include yellowtail sashimi with serrano chili ponzu ($15); scallop carpaccio with calamanci granite ($15); seared wagyu beef sashimi and yuzu soy ($25); and seafood ceviche with guava yuzu sauce ($12).
Hot dishes include seared tuna and foie gras with Asian pear chutney ($22); creamy spicy shrimp with chipotle aioli ($15); braised short ribs and roasted apple puree ($17); and broiled eggplant with sweet miso ($8).
Soups and salads: Tofu miso soup with wakame seaweed and scallions ($5); lobster akadashi and red miso soup ($6); mixed greens and ginger dressing ($8); crispy duck confit and citrus vinaigrette ($13); tuna tataki and warm bacon vinaigrette ($16); and asahi crab and cilantro vinaigrette ($18).
Entrees: Broiled Chilean sea bass marinated in saikyo miso ($32); grilled chicken breast with lemongrass teriyaki ($22); sake-steamed black cod with soy and ginger broth ($26); grilled New York strip steak with shallot teriyaki ($42); and grilled rack of lamb and Asian pear ($45).
Extras: Hachi also features sushi, including nigiri and sashimi items such as amberjack, fluke fin, caviar, jumbo sweet shrimp, octopus, eel and quail egg ($3-$12); rolls including California, lobster cucumber, spicy tuna, vegetable tempura, lobster tempura, arugula and crispy potato, seared beef and sesame-crusted shrimp ($7-$19); tempura including shrimp, squid, pumpkin, asparagus, French beans, lotus root, Japanese eggplant, rutabaga, avocado, tofu and shiitake mushrooms (two pieces per order, $2-$8); kushiyaki including beef, chicken, scallop, shrimp and vegetable (two skewers per order, $4-$9); and noodle dishes including chicken yakisoba, spicy rice noodles with shrimp and kamo namban in hot udon broth ($12-$15).
Desserts: Coconut sticky rice and mango ($9); lychee panna cotta with strawberry foam ($9); calamanci pinenut tart and honey mascarpone cream ($9); warm chocolate tart with vanilla bean ice cream and shiso sauce ($9); seasonal berries, coconut sake foam and kaffir lime gelee ($9); apple gyoza with vanilla bean ice cream and cider gastrique ($9); fondue for two with macadamia nut gianduja ganache and condiments ($14); and ice cream and sorbet ($7 each).
Appetizers is a weekly informational column about new developments on the Las Vegas dining scene. Items should not be considered reviews or recommendations and none is a paid advertisement. Contact Ken White at 383-0256 or e-mail him at kwhite@ reviewjournal.com.