The crudo selection at Sugarcane is a tour de force of technique and cultural understanding from mastermind chef Timon Balloo. “It’s the infatuation with the cuisine and refinement of Japanese food,” Balloo says. “I wanted to highlight raw fish in a very European setting in the sense of Mediterranean-style techniques, the way you’d have it if you went to Greece or Italy.”
If there’s a culinary culture that knows how to prepare raw fish, Balloo can handle it. Kinilaw kampachi ceviche sees the chef look back to his time immersed in Filipino culture while in San Francisco. Though many diners are familiar with Latin American ceviches and European crudos, Balloo’s Filipino version amps things up with big flavors. The acid comes from the vinegar in a pour-over coconut-cane sauce, which hits on many delicious notes—it’s also sweet and creamy. The expertly cut yellowtail picks up the accompanying flavors, including citrus segments and jalapeños. It’s a truly unique bite.
Hokkaido scallop is another elegant example of blended flavors and textures. Thinly sliced scallops meld with lime, jalapeño, black truffle and crunchy, compressed apple. Somehow, nothing gets overpowered.
Delicate Kombu-marinated fluke, another Sugarcane must, rests on Asian kelp, inviting diners to take charge of the experience. The longer the fish sits on the seaweed, the saltier it gets. Charred onions and sesame seeds bring different layers to the dish, and red grapes tie it all together.
When it comes to raw bar creativity, Balloo and Sugarcane stand alone.
Sugarcane at Venetian, 702-414-2263; Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.