Look at the rundown strip mall location and you would not expect that this is the kind of place that would garner rave notices in GQ and New York Magazine, nor that master chefs like Paul Bartolotta leave their 5-star kitchens on the Strip to come here to eat. Not only is all of that true, but this is one of the most interesting, unique, and purely divine restaurants in all of Las Vegas. It’s tiny, with seats for fewer than three dozen, and what with all the deserved attention it has gotten, those seats are hard to come by (make reservations at least a week in advance, if not more). But if you get one, you’ll be treated to a litany of taste bud–popping flavors from the robata grill.
Everything is small plates, most served on skewers. It’s the esoteric items that have gotten most of the press—pork ear, pork cheek, Kobe beef liver—but the long list includes perfectly moist chicken breast, Kobe with milder-than-expected wasabi, a miniature lamb chop, seared foie gras, grilled duck, asparagus or tomato wrapped in bacon (both joy-inducing in their freshness), ground chicken, and much more. Daily specials include seafood flown in from Japan, and there is also an odin (broth pot) section and rice, noodle, and soup dishes. But it is that robata grill that should dominate your choices—the smoky charcoal-grill flavor brings everything to life but allows each dish to have its own distinct flavors. Even the somewhat-less-than-mainstream options are heavenly, with the pork cheek tasting basically like a hunk of bacon lard, and we mean that in a good way. Although most of the selections are only a few bucks (most under $5), it is easy to rack up a big bill here because after the first bite you’ll be tempted to just have them bring you everything on the menu. And we would not blame you for doing so.
- Rick Garman