Tag Archives: las vegas

Kame Sushi, Las Vegas

 

We do enjoy our sushi. Living in Northern AZ the best sushi we can expect are decent rolls with no fake crab or cream cheese. So when we go to Las Vegas, we always seek out great ‘real’ sushi places. Raku, is generally our favorite go-to place on Spring Mountain Road. But Raku, as all places eventually get to, has become stagnant, repetitive and of less value… at least per our last visit.

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So we splurged on the pricey ($165pp) omakase that raved terrific 5-star reviews. Little did we know the treat we were in for. Kame is housed in a small space shared with Yummy Grill & Sushi. It only has seating for 8, with 2 seatings each night: one at 6pm, one at 8:30pm. We reserved the 6pm seating on a Wednesday night. This was our ‘gift’ to ourselves after a very long 2 week, 3500 mile trip to WA state to get our second Alaskan camper. So we were looking forward to an evening of great sushi and being mesmerized by Chef’s omakase creations, which as we have found, can be anything.

To our surprise and delight, we were the ONLY people in the restaurant that night. The next day was completely booked… but for our ‘session’ that evening, it was just John and I, Chef William, a hostess (which kept our sake and water glasses full), and William’s sous chef. It was like our own private show, where the chef prepared each course only for us. He explained different techniques, types of fish, and preparations. We were in heaven. Moreover, we absolutely felt transported to a Japanese Izakaya in Tokyo as the chef prepared dish after dish just for us.

Chef William had a way of fanning the rice with one hand, and the sashimi with the other, in this orchestrated dance that was beautiful to watch. Its results were perfect temperature and the most luscious tender rice – not too hot or cold, and the perfect sushi – not too hot or cold, married together in perfect harmony. He scored the fish first to allow the yuzu and or soy he would carefully paint on with a bamboo brush to evenly and thoroughly penetrate. Then he’d sprinkle with a touch of fresh grated wasabi, salt – or garlic… or blow torch to lend a touch of smokiness. With each sashimi preparation he’d set the completed masterpiece on a board in front of us, and instruct us to eat with our fingers.. no chopsticks, wasabi, or soy necessary. It was magical. I didn’t know sushi could be so heavenly… and we have had it in great places. But the fish and rice have been cold, and while the quality at the better places has been very good… this sashimi, with it’s just warm rice… and just cool fish, presented with such a fantastic flourish to us individually, one at a time… was truly awe inspiring. We felt like we were truly experiencing a scene out of the movie about famous sushi chef Jiro, where the cult tradition of making each sushi piece was fanatically perfect – each must be eaten immediately lest the temperature of the rice heats the sushi or the sushi cools the rice.  william sprinkles_IR.jpg

Aside from the ELEVEN sashimi preparations Chef William spoiled us with, there were other ‘goodies’ intertwined in our evening of sushi bliss, 22 all together.   Among our favorites were what we called the lobster tail and lobster head. A sushi grade Maine lobster tail adorned with raw lobster layered with uni, kamashida tuna from Spain, and caviar. It was as beautiful to look at, as it was to eat. Absolutely stunning.

 

 

 

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Then we got the lobster head in an uni beurre blanc with the lobster pieces and claws, just lightly poached, served over an ultra luscious matcha soba noodle from Japan. It was fabulous.

 

 

 

wagyu block_IR.jpg We have had real wagyu only a couple times… and it has been amazing. But none as fantastic as this hunk o’ beef, set out to warm and soak in salt from a salt block nearby. We could literally watch the beef turn a red color and the fat throughout just melt. When he seared and presented with the wagyu certificate, there was nothing more to do but put in our mouth and let it melt as we savored its luscious goodness. Wow. Fantastic!

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There were other dishes that he threaded throughout our amazing evening, where he would show us the difference of raw vs lightly poached… like hairy crab raw, and in a chawanmushi egg custard with foie gras and caviar.

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Or the study of uni with different types of uni and caviar over rice for us to compare. We had orange clam that was among the most tender I have ever eaten in my life. There was oyster to start and roasted green tea ice cream to finish…. And everything in between. It was a stunning evening that was mesmerizing and transformative. Crazy good.

Surprisingly, as good as everything was, we were so amazed by the simplicity and careful preparation, and absolute deliciously tender and flavorful sashimi above all else. It’s just raw fish and rice, right?! William’s sashimi showed us a much different sashimi than we had ever had, and it was stunning.

Thank you William.

 

 

 

 

Best of 2016: Restaurants

I wrote about my best photos of 2016 on my sister blog here… and honorable mentions .. here.  As I went through my photos and refreshed my memory of all the great experiences we had throughout 2016, I also ran across photos of restaurants we had been to… some of which you have read about in this blog.

So while I’m doing the ‘Best of’ series… why not include BEST restaurants we went to in 2016.  We had some amazing meals throughout 2016, so it’s fun to go back and Mmmmm and Ahhhh about their yumminess.  So here goes (in no particular order):

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  1. Twist, Las Vegas.  Wow!  It was an expensive restaurant to be sure, but the food was amazing… and the best part was the staff.  The servers could see how much we were enjoying our meal as we savored every bite.  So they offered to take us back in the kitchen to meet the chef!  They even gave us a Thank You card for dining with them (can you imagine?!).. and a little parting gift all tied up in a bow of sweet treats.  Fantastic!

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2. Raku, Las Vegas.  I just love this place.  Every time we are in Vegas we go.  I can’t help myself.  It’s reasonable priced, and the food is fantastic.  It changes from time to time, and is inventive, beautifully presented, friendly, and absolutely delicious.  I love their tasting menu.  It always includes things I would never order otherwise, but just love… like their tofu.  I am NOT a tofu fan… but Raku’s homemade version could make me one.  Great spot!

 

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3.  Mon Ami Gabi, Las Vegas.  I’d be remise if I didn’t include the best eggs benedict with smoked salmon I have ever eaten.  I love eggs benedict, it is my go-to breakfast meal on the off occasion we splurge on breakfast.. so I’ve tasted a lot.  But none better than this mainstay french restaurant in Vegas.

 

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4. Social, Costa Mesa  CA.  This charming little place in Costa Mesa had memorable little plates that had perfect balance.  I loved the way they brought different textures together for wonderful, flavorful bites.

 

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 5.  Pok Pok, Los Angeles  CA.  We had a fabulous meal full of ethnic flavor and spice at Pok Pok in LA.  Their glazed wings were to die for… crunchy spicy yumminess.

 

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6. Trois Mec, Los Angeles  CA.  Trois Mec is a very difficult ‘ticket’ to get, but we were thrilled when we did.  The food was interesting, cutting edge, and fun.  The staff with engaging and interactive, and the whole experience fun.

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7. ANQi, Costa Mesa  CA.  This restaurant is part of the Thanh Long family of CA restaurants.  If you haven’t eaten at one and have the chance, you should.  They are famous for their chili crab and garlic noodles.  Outstanding.

 

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8. The Bite House, Baddeck  Nova Scotia.  Outstanding! Simply Outstanding!  This very small  tucked away place outside of Cape Breton was perfect.  The tasting menu was fantastic.  Each bite was perfectly balanced, fresh, and beautiful.  The chef has mastered the art of color, texture and balance.  Each little plate had a edible flower, some kind of crunch, and some element of freshness.  Each and every one was terrific.  I’d go back in a heartbeat given the opportunity.  Really great.

 

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9. Elvira’s,  Tubac AZ.   Years ago we used to frequent  Elvira’s in Nogales.  It had the best true Mexican taco’s and burritos.  But then the son came to work there and the food went all upscale… and Nogales fell into crime, drug lords, and despair.   So Elvira’s moved to Tubac.  While we were in Tucson, we opted to make the drive to Tubac to see how Elvira’s had evolved.  I’m glad we did!  Their Mexican food is just stunning.  This dish of squash blossom stuffed poblano with a red chile sauce was fantastic.  They were kind enough to share the recipe, so I’ve had a few lucky friends get to enjoy this fabulous dish in my own home.  I hear they opened a new Elvira’s in Tucson.. you can bet when we next are in Tucson, we will be checking it out.

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10. Escalante Outfitters Cafe, Escalante  UTAH.  First off, sorry for the terrible cell phone pic.  But I just had to include this one, albeit a bad photo.  We had this Eggs-in-a-nest breakfast at this little cafe in Escalante, Utah, and have made it at least a dozen times at home since.  This photo represents the original dish that we have replicated over and over for ourselves and our friends.  It is a great breakfast, and easy to make, and has definitely been added to our repertoire.

 

Wow!  This makes me hungry.  We had some amazing restaurants out in all our travels this last year.  It was great fun to remember every bite.

Check out my best photos here  and  here and here.

 

 

 

Mon Ami Gabi, Las Vegas

If you’ve been to Vegas you have walked by or seen this charming french bistro outside of Paris Hotel/Casino.  They are known for their steak & frites.  But we decided on this particular trip to stop in for breakfast for a change.

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We all have our favorites for particular meals or restaurants.  For instance, I always order the enchilada at Mexican restaurants.  It makes us something of aficionado’s for that particular food stuff since we have a lot of different restaurants and preparations to compare our favorites to.

In terms of breakfast… I love eggs benedict.  If it’s a worthy place, I always order them. So I have had a lot of mediocre, some bad, and some good.  So I opted for the smoked salmon benedict at Mon Ami Gabi.  I figured they should be able to get that classic hollandaise sauce nailed.

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Well… not only was I not disappointed… I was floored.  It was easily the BEST eggs benedict I have EVER had.  Talk about a luscious hollandaise.  OMG!  It was perfect in all regards, from the fresh perfectly toasted english muffins, the excellent smoked salmon, to the perfectly cooked eggs… and that amazing chive hollandaise.  It was absolutely fabulous.  It was only made better by the company (my charming husband), and the great french atmosphere.  We were momentarily transported to France.  The service by Lauren was terrific, and the view and people watching just plain fun.

We don’t go out for big breakfasts a lot… a person can only eat so much afterall.

But would definitely go back if we were looking for breakfast (and eggs benedict) again.  A worthy stop.  Well done.

Best Thing I Ever Ate

There is a show on Food Network, called Best Thing I Ever Ate.  I guess if we all thought hard enough we could come up with something.  If we’re lucky, more than one something.

I’ve actually written about this before, and the Best Thing I Ever Ate were these pork candy goodies from a long defunct restaurant.  But that’s ok, because this past week it toppled from it’s pedestal and was replaced by something we had at Raku in Las Vegas, NV.

It’s no secret that I love to be WOW’d by food, both in restaurants and at home.  I’m not looking for some chef that can flex his technique-dejour.  Just because he just learned how to make foam or gelatin or some other IN thing, doesn’t necessarily make it good… just over used.

I’ll preface this to say, I love soft shelled crab.  Now I get that that’s not everyone’s thing.  But for me, the crunchy exterior, and luscious interior is just awesome.

So, without further ado… check this out:

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These are river crabs.  I had never heard of them.  But you have to admit, this presentation is amazing.  I couldn’t capture them well enough to convey the awesomeness we felt when they delivered this platter of cooked river crabs.  Talk about unbelievable finger food.

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So, YES, you just pop one of these tiny little guys in your mouth and crunch through the crunchy soft shell to the soft interior.  I ate them in two bites, and savored them.

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I get that these are not everyone’s thing, and to some it might look more like Fear Factor than Best Thing I Ever Ate.  For me, they were the best.  They totally wow’d me.  The people next to us even took a photo.

Whether you like these little guys or not, if ever in Las Vegas, Raku, has an amazing tasting menu that I can never get enough of.  It’s worth the trip.  Just GO!

 

Nobu at Hard Rock Hotel, Vegas

It took me awhile to acquire a taste for sushi, but now that I have, I can’t get enough.

Well… that’s not altogether true.  I hated sushi.  Yuck.  Raw fish.  Ewwww.  I never really even tried it.  The very idea of it alone just revolted me.  That is until some kind soul took pity on us, and decided to show us the error of our ways.  He took us out for sushi and ordered for us, easing us into the experience and described with great detail the euphoria of the freshest and loveliest fish; the pop and excitement of caviar (yes, fish eggs); and the luscious sweet / saltiness of the accompanying rice.  I don’t think we adequately thanked him for his gift of sushi.  I can’t imagine my culinary world without it in it.  I just love the freshness and tender luscious bites it yields.

Since then we have come to appreciate all kinds of food… and all kinds of Japanese food, much of which isn’t even sushi.  We’re fortunate enough to have a grand sushi master in AZ… our own Nobuo at Teeter House.  But then I digress.  This is about THE Nobu.  Nobu Matsuhisa, the acclaimed Michelin starred chef and restaurateur of some dozen or so Nobu restaurants around the world.

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So when we saw a Travelzoo coupon for Nobu in Vegas… around Christmas time no less, it was a two-fer.  We’d get an amazing meal AND get to see the Christmas decorations in the over the top city of lights, Vegas.

The meal, in short, was everything is promised to be, and more.  Any meal that has me wanting to go home and seek out his recipes and cook them at home, is well… a success.

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We started with warm edamame with course sea salt.

Then quickly moved into our parade of courses:

hamachi_Ssi Hamachi (yellowfin tuna) with yuzu soy, japapeno, and cilantro.  Wonderful!

lobster tacos_Ssi Beef short rib tacos… tender and crunchy.

lobster wraps_Ssi Lobster lettuce wraps.  Yum!

shrimp tempura_Ssi Shriimp tempura with spicy mayo.  OMG good!

black cod_Ssi Miso Black Cod, Nobu’s signature dish, and rightfully so.  I have to make this at home.  It was tender, succulent, and spot on perfectly delicious.

sushi_Ssi Perfect sushi

dessert_Ssi Divine dessert.  The cappuccino cup was a tiramisu of sorts.. and delicious.

Nobu’s sushi is fresh and perfectly executed.  The flavors are perfect.

The service was amazing.   It was a fun and super delicious experience.  We were very glad we went.