The climate couldn't be more different, but Vegas has proved to be surprisingly fertile ground for classy Japanese restaurants. As well as the largest Nobu in the country, the city has plenty to offer in the way of independent Nipponese joints, from the swish robata grills of Raku to the traditional Tokyo-style sushi of Kabuto. Read on, then, for our guide to Las Vegas's best Japanese restaurants…
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Entering this austere room with its darkened vaulted ceiling, one feels instantly at ease—it's like joining a sophisticated nighttime picnic in an urban backyard. The first Las Vegas restaurant by star chef Masa Takayama is heaven for fans of Japanese cuisine. Takayama prepares the finest in fresh fish—only those that have been out of Japan’s coastal waters 24 hours or less will do. Inside Barmasa is a teppan eaterie, Tetsu, the first of its kind by Masa.
Chef Jun Ichikawa offers only the most traditional styles of sushi, shunning fusion cuisine and American-style rolls. Not sure where to begin? Try the tasting menu, which pairs toro tartare, sea urchin, squid, and monkfish foie gras, wrapped in fluke and octopus. Robata (Japanese charcoal grill) is also a specialty. Take time to check out the lounge, located under the Mirage’s domed atrium, and order a Floating Orchid. You (probably) won’t regret it.
If you’ve ever bought sushi rolls at a grocery store, Kabuto many not be the place for you. In fact, this traditional edomae sushi house takes care to point out what it does not serve: namely, maki and hako sushi. Make no mistake, the subtle raw-fish delicacies served here—nigiri sushi and sashimi—appeal to a refined palate, and have prices to match. Once you’ve tried it, however, you may have a tough time enjoying a California roll.
This iconic New York sushi haven, by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, is attached to the brand-new boutique Nobu Hotel within Caesars Palace. It’s the largest Nobu restaurant in the country, and the first to offer teppanyaki in addition to its huge sushi selection. Its opulence—both the restaurant’s and the hotel’s—is second to none, with a menu to match. It’s not the first Nobu in Vegas (the original is at the Hard Rock Hotel), but this outpost will be the one by which the others are judged.
Shibuya is really three beautiful restaurants in one: a 50ft marble sushi bar; a collection of teppanyaki (table cooking) grills under hot pink stainless steel canopies; and a pair of modern rooms where guests can indulge in a French spin on modern Japanese cuisine. Guests in any section are free to order from the various menus, and everything is easily shared.
Owner and chef Mitsuo Endo has taken Las Vegas’s Asian food scene by storm since opening Raku in 2008. That’s no small feat in city that boasts so much variety in Asian cuisine—particularly along this stretch of road. But Endo’s multiple-award-winning eaterie continues to be a favorite among all comers. Order from the robata grill if you want, but spring for the omakase menu if you can.
As if Las Vegas wasn’t enough like LA, in slinks this Santa Monica/Hollywood hotspot, all dressed up and ready for some celebrity action. With similar prices to Nobu but less of the cachet, Sushi Roku proves that getting super-fresh fish in the desert isn’t cheap. Fanatics are split on whether it’s worth the price tag, but anyone worth their $500 jeans knows that the Strip views and loungey bar scene are draws equal to the sensational sashimi.