Tulalip Casino Resort: The #1 place for fun?

Have you heard the ad war between Tulalip Casino Resort and the just-opening Snoqualmie Casino? Snoqualmie sure faces a challenge to be number one, as there’s lots of fun at Tulalip. Take, for example, Tulalip’s luxury hotel. There are 370 guestrooms and suites; I got a look inside some of those suites, including the Pan-Asian, pictured here. They’re incredible. And while the suites are huge (the Tulalip Suite is 2,500 square feet, expandable to 3,000), even the King room (where I stayed) was big at 500 square feet—and featuring local art, floor-to-ceiling windows, a separate seating area with chaise lounge, and a 47-inch HD television. I especially loved the bathroom, with its Italian tile and granite countertops. Best of all was the glass-enclosed spa-like shower with three adjustable body sprays. Luxurious. (If a real spa suits you, T-Spa is full-service with 14,000 square feet, including 16 treatment rooms where they do everything but hair. And there’s also the Oasis Pool—indoors and yet outdoors in a lush, tropical setting.)

Tulalip offers surprisingly sumptuous dining options. A specially organized “Dine Around” meant a progressive dinner: welcome reception in the Tulalip Suite, appetizers at Blackfish (Wild Salmon Grill & Bar), entrees at Tulalip Bay, and desserts in the mpulse Lounge. I enjoyed Blackfish and its traditional salmon on a stick (even better over a corn-bacon fritter), but what continues to amaze me is Tulalip Bay, and Chef Dean Shinegawa’s ability to exceed expectations—making me feel far from the smoky, noisy casino just outside the restaurant’s doors. He puts together elegant dishes using fresh Northwest ingredients, often prepared with Eastern elements. As in a previous visit, I enjoyed crab-crusted Alaskan halibut (a fish that typically bores me) with wok vegetables, wasabi mashed potatoes and Sriracha chilli sauce, but the star this night was the plate of hazelnut-crusted lamb chops. Served over sweet potato hash, the lamb was tender and tasty, with the star anise cherry lamb jus a perfect accompaniment—adding a welcomed fruitiness and Asian accent to the dish.
Nikol Nakamura’s assortment of desserts put an exclamation point on the evening. I loved her butterscotch pudding on a spoon, pumpkin bar on a stick, and chocolate-raspberry parfait in a weebly-wobbly, little glass bowl. (Nikol, how about offering a dessert sampler like this on the menu?) Sweet…as were the workers. Friendly and hospitable, they show tremendous pride in their place of work, and deservedly so. Tulalip’s got game. It was well worth a drive to have a delightful experience; if you go, you can see why they claim to be the “#1 place for fun.”

Cross-posted on Examiner.



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