Fish N Bowl
Seaweed Salad with Yuzu Juice and Sesame Oil
J-Curry Edamame – Japanese Curry, Salt, and Butter
Spoon Trio – Uni with Lime Juice, Smoked Sea Salt, Grated Wasabi / Oyster Spoon with Ponzu, Wasabi Relish, Red Tobiko / Bay Scallop Lime Juice, XO Sauce, Grated Ginger
Spicy Bacon Tempura – Fried Bacon with Maple Soy Reduction
Salmon Kama – Grilled Salmon Collar with Garlic Lemon Sauce
Hamachi Kama – Grilled Yellowtail Collar
Poke Tacos on Crispy Wonton Skins – Tuna with Masago, Red Onion, Green Onion, Pomegranate Molasses, Micro Cilantro / Yellowtail with Sweet Wasabi Mayo, Red Onion, Green Onion, Black Tobiko / Ono with Jalapeno, Red Onion, Tomato, Sweet Mini Chili, Lime Juice, Chipotle Mayo, Micro Cilantro
Agedashi Tofu – Lightly Fried Tofu in Fish Broth
Soft Shell Crab Cake – Sweet Chili Pepper, Jalapeno, Chipotle Mayo
Nigiri – Ume Fluke with Orange Juice and Japanese Pickles, Ahi Tuna with Yuzu and Garlic, Half Moon Salmon with Avocado and Lemon, Miso Yuzu Yellowtail, Hokkaido Scallop with Lime Juice and Green Tea Sea Salt
Warm Springs Roll – Soft Shell Crab, Spicy Tuna, Spicy Crab, Shrimp Tempura, Avocado in Rice Paper with Eel Sauce, Spicy Yam, Sriracha
Mr Monkey Roll – Fried Banana, Spicy Crab, Spicy Tuna with Pomegranate Molasses, Wasabi Mayo
Unagi Bowl with Shredded Egg, Brown Rice, Eel Sauce
Blueberry Angelfood Cake with Whipped Cream, Chocolates Ganache, Matcha Marshmallow, Caramel Sauce
Cheesecake Tempura with Caramel Sauce and Chocolate
Born in Iowa, raised in Korea, and slicing up fish in Southwest Las Vegas, Howard Choi’s is most certainly is not the most typical of Chef’s stories, but garnering praise from locals and critics alike it was with modestly high expectations that a party of four sat on uncomfortable benches inside of Fish N Bowl on Saturday evening, the two-hour omakase experience showing a great diversity of tastes and textures with most of them quite good.
At first hesitant to serve ‘chef’s choice,’ the small restaurant on South Durango doing the majority of its business at lunch, happy hour, and with orders a la carte it was entirely from creations on the laminated flippable menu that fifteen course was crafted, a selection of water and teas added to a tally of just over $300 all-in for the table.
Bringing in fresh fish “almost every day but Sunday” from a variety of sources, including the ones that provide products to more pricey locations on The Strip, the Fish N Bowl experience crafted by Choi began with shredded seaweed glistening with sesame oil followed by edamame so tender that pods did not need to be discarded, the curry playing well of the acid from the salad while preparing the palate for bold flavors to come.
Doing an excellent job of presenting a broad view of appetizers by offering three individual ‘spoons,’ each typically offered as a trio, even those averse to oysters would be well advised to reassess with FNB’s version lightened by ponzu, heat, plus tobiko and although both the scallop and urchin were also well accompanied the first true ‘wow’ of the evening was provided by crispy breaded bacon fully awash with spices, the maple-infused soy sauce doing an admirable job of reining them all in.
Unfortunately hitting a speed bump with Salmon cooked a bit too long it was with a more appropriately grilled piece of Yellowtail that the kitchen quickly regained its footing, another raw followup served straight across the counter from Chef Choi’s hands perhaps the best six mouthfuls of the evening with each two-bite ‘taco’ out-‘Nobuing’ Matsuhisa, the Ono said by one to be the best tasted outside the Hawaiian Islands.
Receiving lightly fried tofu in fish broth at the request of one diner, the flavor and texture far more appealing than the makeshift crabcake that tasted almost entirely of peppers that followed, it was a plate of five slices of fish atop rice that arrived subsequently, the fluke a touch overwhelmed by citrus while both scallop and ahi were undeniably excellent, the former particularly vibrant beneath both grated and crispy garlic.
Not generally one to order rolls, but happy to let Choi try to change my mind, suffice it to say that although texturally compelling the Warm Springs Roll got a little lost in all the spices while the clever Mr. Monkey was a fun little bite to recalibrate the palate, savory courses ending in a bowl of brown rice topped with tender eel in its sauce and shavings of egg omelet.
Washing it all down with smooth miso as hot green tea better than that at Mizumi was on it’s way, desserts consisted of a cloud-like concoction from nearby Suzuya alongside the restaurant’s very own tempura fried cheesecake, the former forgettable albeit tasty while the latter was absolutely decadent alongside pools of caramel, chocolate, and a dollop of whipped cream.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: Pairing the passion of it’s Chef/Owner with a sizable menu and plenty of well-sourced fish, Howard Choi’s Fish N Bowl is the sort of ‘locals-only’ place that deserves the support of anyone interested in Japanese cuisine, the relatively low price point and cozy confines speaking to a world far removed from the touristy trappings of The Strip.
RECOMMENDED: Spicy Bacon Tempura, Poke Tacos, Mr Monkey Roll, Tempura Cheesecake.
AVOID: Soft Shell Crab Cake.
TIP: Offering several Happy Hour Specials from 3-5pm daily those interested in wine, beer, or sake are encouraged to look elsewhere as Fish N Bowl currently lacks a liquor license.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor