They call Vegas Sin City. Anything goes on The Strip on Las Vegas Ave, hence even the Las Vegas Tourism Bureau coined the phrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” What many people don’t realize is that Las Vegas Proper has a population of 2.3MM which spans 135 sq. miles. Locals compare to The Strip to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and Times Square in New York City. Besides the shows, it’s a total tourist trap where things are just more crowded and more expensive. You can gamble with better odds, eat better for half the price, shop cheaper outside the trip. Eating in Vegas is the same way.
Eating in Vegas, in particular The Strip, boasts countless high-end restaurants, many of which are over priced. While it’s still good to get a nice steak at Prime or the famous spaghetti at Scarpetta at the Cosmo, one Genre of food that is a total rip off is Asian food. It’s tough to justify to pay so like 2 a dish for dim sum at Tao or Blue Ribbon for over-priced Sushi. There is so much better food just off the strip. It’s also not impossible to get a reservation at, unlike restaurants in San Francisco or New York City. Here’s a couple places eating in Vegas to show you what I mean:
Raku (not to be confused with Roku)
Eating in Vegas (Beyond the strip) requires either a cab or a rental car. I prefer renting a car so that I can explore more places more conveniently. Japanese small dish restaurants have been popping up around the US an quick pace My favorites are the ones that feature a Robata grill, which is charcoal instead of gas. Their attention to detail in terms of the ingredients sets them apart from the normal Japanese restaurants that you see every block. First off, there are so many Japanese restaurants that are opened by Chinese, Korean, and even Caucasians. I don’t know how that can even make sense. Raku gets their kobe style beef from one farm in Oregon, fish is air shipped form Tsukiji, which makes only one day old, and all their ingredients are shipped from Japan which help make things such as their home made tofu and soy sauce. This attention to detail is exactly why most Japanese restaurant features Teriyaki Chicken and a whole bunch of Rolls with crazy names and sauce. It’s just so much easier (and cheaper) A couple of dishes that I like to get are the:
Homemade Oyaji Tofu – I like the get the spicy homemade tofu. The texture is quite complex, as you can feel the grains of the Soybeans that they use to make the tofu mixed with the spices and green onion leads to a very unique dish.
Kobe Beef Tendon – This is probably my favorite dish. It’s a huge piece of tendon that feels like it has been stewed for days. It’s soft, chewy, and incredibly flavorful.
Poached Egg with Sea Urchin and Salmon Roe – Once you mix the raw egg, the flavors mix with the salmon eggs perfectly and counters the explosions of the eggs blowing up in your mouth.
Fish Collar – Not the biggest collar around, but the tenderness of the meat along with the natural fish oils that come how when they grill it make it quite delicious.
Each dish is relatively inexpensive, and with alcohol, you can get out spending $75-100 a person and try 6-7 dishes.
This is one of my favorite stops eating in Vegas, as it is great experience at an amazing value. It’s comparable to a restaurant like the one Michelin Star – Wakuriya in San Mateo California in terms of presentation, taste and variety, but at half the price. You can also actually get a reservation at Kabuto, where you have to make a reservation months in advance for most Michelin star Restaurant.
The restaurant is actually in the same strip mall as Raku and has minimal signage, only a traditional Japanese lantern with the name of the restaurant in Japanese characters and a small glass window. Make sure you get a seat at the sushi bar, so you can see them make the edomae style food in front of our eyes. The care and attention to detail will blow your mind away. There’s no definitely no California or Caterpillar Rolls here! I would recommend the Kabuto deluxe set meal, which comprises of aperitif, appetizer, 5 piece sashimi platter, 5 piece grill platter, 12 piece nigiri, hand roll, Miso Soup, and Dessert all for $120. I’m going to let the pictures speak for the food itself, but here is a couple of highlights of why the dining experience at Kabuto is unique.
- The fish is not stored in a refrigerator or on ice. It’s stored at room temperature so that the taste is perfect when they cut it up in front of you. It goes to show how fresh the fish is also.
- The attention to detail in terms of the preparation and presentation is impeccable. The consistency in which they cut, measure, prepare each item is amazing. I saw one of the sushi chefs prepare the same dish for a party of 12 and all 12 dishes looked exactly the same, from the size, shape, positioning.
- The waitresses and sushi chefs actually speak good English and do a great job explaining each one of the dishes. A lot of times at good Japanese restaurants I find that they don’t speak that much English and it is hard to understand. A culinary experience this sophisticated definitely needs a proper curator!
Here’s a couple of other “local tips” for Vegas:
- If you must insist on staying on the strip and use a taxi, don’t let them go on the freeway. The strip is just a 5 minute ride on city roads from the airport. The cab drivers just do that to rack up the meter. Look on your map on your phone to confirm.
- If you plan on going around outside the strip, it could be just as cheap for you to just rent a car, as it is relatively cheap. Also, there is ample free parking at all the casinos and resort around Las Vegas
Until Next Time, Eat Well and Prosper!
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