The lost meals entries consist of meals that occurred at various times throughout 2012 which, for any number of reasons, escaped my documentation – some due to a cross country move and a new job, some due to the Los Angeles Kings run to the Stanley Cup, and some simply as a result of too much travel. Having enjoyed many of these meals with friends or family and with some of them amongst the year’s very best the reality is that with time my memory has deteriorated and as life moves forward I’ve realized there is little hope to ever “catch up” or document these experiences as well as I’d hope, yet in order to preserve them I present these pictures, notes, and thoughts on the experience.
Deep Fried Tofu Mussel Cake with corn and carrots
Pudding – Tofu Crème Caramel
Honey Toast with Ice Cream
Fried Quail Egg
…my first day in Vegas always goes later than anticipated, but not for the same reason as others since it is usually a late night reservation at one of the restaurant’s top tier restaurants that keeps me out late and true to form we could not get a seat at Kabuto until 9:00pm thus allowing plenty of time for small plates and sake beforehand at Ichiza, just across the street on Spring Mountain. A venerable establishment amongst both tourists and locals long before Raku put LV’s Chinatown on everybody’s ‘must visit’ list I’d wanted to visit Ichiza during my past two visits to Sin City but both due to location and the rest of the city’s eats it had always fallen on the ‘next time’ list until we literally found ourselves in the area with nothing else to do.
Small and tucked away on the second floor of a non-descript strip mall with a podium for check-in leading to a largely open floor plan with kitchen at center, seating at tables and bars (on chairs or on tatami style mats,) and menus hanging on walls all around Ichiza looks like chaos when you first enter and with seating tight the process of placing an order literally consists of walking around the room to figure out what you want as the chefs work quietly and vigorously churning out plate after plate. With my pal conserving appetite and focusing on sake while I perused the options it would not be long before we placed our order – sitting, sipping cold sake, and taking in the scene.
Beginning first with the savories, though food didn’t necessarily arrive in that order, a trio of options presented two excellent fried options, the quail eggs still jiggly on the inside with a golden exterior crunch and the mussel cake surprisingly vegetal and creamy thanks to the house made tofu and fresh corn. Less successful, the smooth egg custard was spot on in texture but with the mushrooms only resting atop the chawanmushi the base was largely flavorless aside from salt and onion – even when mixed the only part really worth eating being the bits directly exposed to the fungus.
Moving on to sweets my selection of the tofu pudding was at our server’s behest and unlike the chawanmushi this creamy custard was lovely, the silky texture somewhere between a true flan and something more dense like cheesecake, and as to the Honey Toast – it is enormous, it is delicious, and with the block of bread hollowed out and toasted to just short of crisp before being slathered in warm honey and topped off with a ball of ice cream it is best shared – particularly if you have dinner or drinking plans for later.
Grape Sake Cocktail
Jack Mackerel in Sweet Vinegar
Sashimi Course: Bluefin Tuna (Spain,) Ocean Trout (Scotland,) Jack Mackerel, Young Yellowtail (Japan), 3-year aged Soy
Grilled Course: Spanish Mackerel with Miso, Kobe Beef with Kumquat, Flying Fish with Salt
Sushi: Deep Sea Porgy, Yellow Grouper, Cornet, King Yellowtail, Triangle, Sea Urchin over Salmon Roe, Sea Eel, Sweet Omelet
Fish Miso Soup
Green Tea Cocoa Cake
Strawberry Layer Cake
The main event of the evening, a seat at Gen-san’s easily missed Kabuto, finally arrived and true to the rumors the $80 Yoroi Menu would not disappoint; easily the best deal on fresh sushi in the Vegas area and, with a focus on edomae-sushi plus fish arriving 4-7x per week from Japan (depending on demand,) a truly authentic experience in a city where ‘authenticity’ is generally questionable at best.
All clean lines and zen, blonde woods and flowers, a small slit window at the entrance and a couple of tables the action here is clearly a seat at the sushi bar and placing oneself in the hands of the itamae in order to bear witness to the incredible knife skills as piece after piece of fish arrives perfect and smooth, the rice fragrant and warm, with ample description of province and the occasional anecdote. Featuring fresh wasabi, house-made aged soy and creamy miso, plus an extensive sake list and dessert program responsible for the best mille crepe I’ve had to date my only regret in visiting Kabuto is that I did not book an earlier reservation and order the longer menu; a mistake I’ll not make in the future.