You can lead a fish to water and, apparently, you can lead it to the desert as well. Some of the world's top sushi chefs now call Las Vegas home thanks to the fresh fish that's flown in on a regular basis, making the city the next best place to enjoy some fantastic Japanese fare after Japan. In fact, Chef Masa Takayama, one of the U.S.'s most famous sushi chefs, has not one, but two noteworthy Japanese restaurants inside ARIA. Some of the world's best sushi restaurants are also following suit, including celebrity-favorite Nobu, which just opened its largest and most innovative restaurant to date (and its second Las Vegas location) inside Caesars Palace.
While the seafood may be extraordinary, the reason Las Vegas is such a culinary mecca is because of the selection it offers guests. In addition to restaurants specializing in sushi and sashimi, Las Vegas is home to some of the world's top teppanyaki restaurants, including the largest Benihana in North America. Several local Japanese restaurants also provide guests with a real feast for the senses thanks to their breathtaking backdrops, from Yellowtail's primo balcony overlooking the Fountains of Bellagio to Sushi Roku's striking Strip views. For those looking for the ultimate escape, Mizumi inside the Wynn transports guests to Japan with its captivating Japanese eco-garden--no passport required!
From Rice & Company's reasonable rolls to Shibuya's stunning sake selection, here's a look at 10 Japanese restaurants sure to please palates of all types.
Sen of Japan
Winning rave reviews from diners and critics, Sen of Japan is a local favorite that visitors are starting to discover. The finely prepared food is served in tasteful but comfortable surroundings, and its off-the-Strip location helps keep the prices reasonable, although not cheap. The former head chef at Nobu at the Hard Rock opened Sen of Japan, and his expertise is obvious in the delicious food. Cold and warm appetizers; sushi and sashimi; grilled, braised, and fried dishes; and tempura give diners a wide selection satisfying options. Sen of Japan may be a little out of the way, but once you arrive you'll be glad you made the drive. (702-871-7781)
Rice & Company
Serving contemporary Japanese and Chinese cuisine, this approachable Asian bistro inside the Luxor is known for its sumptuous sushi and sashimi. Guests can sit and dine at the sushi bar or eat in the sleek and open dining room; private dining rooms are also available. In addition to its sushi and sashimi selections, classic dishes such as Beef & Broccoli, Sweet & Sour Pork and the flavorful Orange Peel Chicken are available, as well as chef specialties like the Lobster Cantonese--a whole lobster tail glazed with Rice & Company's signature ginger sauce and scallions. Conveniently located next to the Atrium Showroom, guests can also enjoy a drink before or after the show in the restaurant's cocktail lounge, which boasts an expansive list of sakes, signature cocktails and wines. (702-262-4774)
The first teppan concept by acclaimed chef Masa Takayama, Tetsu features produce tables from which guests choose the items they would like to have prepared by a talented teppan chef right before their eyes. Chefs use a two-knife technique to prepare every item and the focus is not on entertaining guests with elaborate tricks, but rather executing each dish with precise technique. Located inside barMASA, the intimate venue features just four VIP teppan grill tables and two larger communal teppan grill tables, with seating for 10 and five, respectively. Its menu changes daily to ensure guests are able to choose from only the freshest and highest quality of meats and vegetables available. (702-590-7111)
Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill
Serving an array of sushi as well as American comfort food, this Strip restaurant is split into a number of alluring spaces, including a bustling bar, intimate main dining room with sushi bar and communal table. The juxtaposition of sophistication and familiarity seep into every inch of the design materials, from rich walnut wood paneling throughout the space, to playful fabric touches of animated red-black patterns, to sleek steel and bluestone finishes that call to mind silvery displays of raw fish. Although best known for its sushi, two of Blue Ribbon's most popular dishes are the Fried Chicken "Blue Ribbon Style" with wasabi and honey and the Oxtail Fried Rice with daikon, shiitake and bone marrow. The restaurant also boasts an extensive fine wine and sake list, with more than 70 selections of sake available. (702-736-0808)
With its striking Strip views and sumptuous sushi selections, it's no wonder sushi fanatics love Sushi Roku. Having attracted everyone from Usher to Kris Jenner to its tables, one bite and it's easy to see why Sushi Roku is a star in its own right. Executive Sushi Chef Haruhiko Takeshita selects only the best and freshest fish on a daily basis and presents his special dishes with a secret ingredient brought over from his family-owned Japanese restaurant in Gunma, Japan. Must-tries include the Yellowtail Sashimi with diced chilies and the Makoto Roll--spicy yellowtail and shrimp tempura wrapped with seared tuna and served with a spicy creamy sauce. The servers at Sushi Roku are well trained on how to create a customized tasting menu based on guests' preferences, so if you're feeling adventurous, feel free to leave the menu in your server's hands. Taste buds are sure to be blown away! (702-733-7373)
The Las Vegas outpost of Chef Masa Takayama's New York restaurant, barMASA features two dining areas each with a different design. Vaulted ceilings in the central room create an airy atmosphere, while the intimate Shaboo room serves omakase-style. BarMASA is a fine dining experience that is as much about the presentation and exclusive, rare ingredients of its dishes as it is about the critically acclaimed food. The dinner menu offers sushi and sashimi tasting selections, as well as rolls (including vegetable rolls). Other options include grilled and fried dishes like the Sizzling Spicy Octopus and Peking Duck with foie gras in moo shu skin. The expansive sushi and sashimi selections, however, occupy most of the real estate on the menu and give diners a wide array of delicacies to choose from. The sake list is also quite impressive, boasting 100 varieties by the bottle and 20 by the glass. (877-230-2742)
One of the Strip's most striking new restaurants, Mizumi offers guests a taste of "new Japan" courtesy of rising star chef Devin Hashimoto. In addition to sushi and sashimi selections, classic entrees, robatayaki selections prepared over authentic Japanese charcoal grills and teppanyaki offerings, Chef Hashimoto pays homage to his Japanese heritage with unique creations like the 72 Hour Braised American Wagyu Shortrib with wasabi potato gratin, grilled Tokyo negi and red wine miso sauce. While the menu is sure to delight taste buds, Mizumi's atmosphere is truly magnificent. Whether seated in the main dining room or the theatrical teppanyaki room, there are unimpeded views of a captivating Japanese eco-garden designed to transport guests from the desert to the Far East. (702-770-3320)
Raku in Las Vegas' Chinatown attracts chefs from all over the city. It's a popular foodie destination, having been on its fair share of travel and food shows. Some of the menu's stars include pork ear, pork cheek and homemade tofu. Diners will find specialties usually only available in Japan. The food here attracts the most dedicated food lovers with its wide menu of delights, like Steamed Foi Gras Egg Custard, or Kobe beef in several preparations. This Japanese restaurant has expanded, but it's still a small place, so reservations are a must. Plan on a short cab ride from the Strip.
Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge
One of the Strip's best Japanese restaurants, Yellowtail is frequented by celebs--and it's easy to see why. Chef Akira Back's tasty take on Japanese cuisine features such inventive dishes as the Popping Spicy Crab roll with Pop Rocks candy served in an upscale yet fun and trendy atmosphere. For those who prefer beef to fish, the 16-ounce Vintage Ribeye with kizami-wasabi butter is one of the most tender steaks in town and goes perfectly with a side of the baked sweet corn. Other must-tries include the flavorful Cucumber Salad with sesame and amazu and the Protein roll with tuna, crab, shiso, hamachi, salmon, asparagus and soy paper. Whatever you decide on, don't forget about dessert; the Green Tea Mousse Cake is simply heavenly! In addition to Yellowtail's regular menu items, each night Chef Akira offers some special off-the-menu dishes, so there's always something new for taste buds to try. (702-693-8300)
Nobu Restaurant and Lounge
The new Nobu at Caesars Palace is Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's largest and most innovative restaurant to date. With more than 325 seats, the restaurant offers a sophisticated yet whimsical experience and features a sushi bar, exclusive private dining area and an impressive selection of dishes including Nobu's signature items such as the Rock Shrimp Tempura and Yellowtail Sashimi with jalapeno and squid "pasta." It also features three teppanyaki tables--a first for Chef Nobu's U.S. restaurants--along with the Las Vegas debut of brick-oven dishes. Guests can experience the essence of Chef Nobu's cuisine with a multi-course Omakase menu spotlighting either Nobu signature items or the chef's daily creations. Either way, taste buds are in for a real treat! (702-785-6628)
About Heather Turk
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Heather's byline has appeared everywhere from The Los Angeles Times to Playboy.com--with her review of The Truman Show making the front page of The Detroit News' movie section when she was just 16 years old. When she's not at her computer writing a story for one of the many outlets she freelances for (including Allegiant Air's in-flight magazine Sunseeker, the Los Angeles Times Las Vegas Guide and CBS Las Vegas), she can often be found at the movies, on the Strip checking out the latest restaurant/show/spa/hotel opening or at Disneyland.
Read more about Heather Turk here.