Allison’s birthday was the day before we were all in Vegas and since Vegas is known for good eating, it was a must to have her bday dinner there. She requested a “legit omakase sushi meal” since it’s something she can’t get in Savannah. Mark did some research and found a truly amazing spot.

Kabuto is off the strip and very under the radar. It’s in Chinatown, which I didn’t even know was a thing in Vegas. Different from Chinatowns in NYC, Sam Fran, or DC, Las Vegas’ Chinatown is essentially a row of strip malls. (It’s similar to Buford Highway in Atlanta, but all Asian.) It’s very unassuming (in fact, we drove past our restaurant several times before finding it), but the area is home to some amazing and authentic restaurants.

Kabuto specializes in edomae style omakase. Omakase is Chef’s choice, while edomae style is served “one piece by one piece” and meant to be eaten right away with your fingers. The chef has prepared each piece with soy sauce or whatever proper accompaniment he has brushed on, so don’t add your own thing. This is for real sushi lovers. You won’t find any rolls on this menu. My beau eats what I call “sushi lite” – he likes a roll here and there, but isn’t into the super raw stuff. We were upset when he started running a fever the night of the dinner, but it turns out this would not have been a meal for him so it’s probably better he stayed home. This is the kind of meal – an experience, really – that you want to appreciate.

There are a couple omakase levels, and we decided to go with the deluxe. And added a sake pairing. We also added one sushi piece because we couldn’t help ourselves. We took a “go big or go home” approach. Was it expensive? Yessir. Do I regret it? NOPE. This was the best sushi meal of my life.

It immediately became apparent that these dishes are veryyy thoughtfully prepared, and I would never remember the details if I didn’t write it down. Out came my phone and the “notes” app. Our waitress thought I was being rude, texting during her description of each course…until she realized I was taking meticulous notes on everything she was saying. Then she complimented me on my typing speed. What follows, are my notes and a full run down of the meal (sorry about the two items I forgot to photograph!):

  • Course 1: Monkfish liver + giant clam with octopus. There was also some seaweed and a cold broth in there. The monkfish liver was totally unique with a texture between fois gras and silky tofu.
    • Paired with: Housemade raspberry sake (2% alcohol) – this tasted like a half melted snow cone and would make the best summer treat.
  • Course 2 (Sashimi Platter): King salmon, sweet shrimp, oyster, long fin bull eye (with seaweed), giant clam. Paired with soy sauce that had aged 3 years.
    • Paired with: Masumi sake – the name means mountain flower. Enjoy the aroma and taste before pairing.
    • Notes: The [raw] shrimp was almost creamy and may have been my favorite item on the plate. I loved the seaweed paste paired with the bull eye, it brought that fish to life. Salmon is my least favorite type of sushi/sashimi unless it’s high quality…this was very high quality and was like butter.
  • Course 3 (Grill Platter): Japanese sea bass collar with lemon juice, princess turban snail (it’s big – “eat everything”, we were instructed), baby amber jack with miso paste, toro with daikon radish ponzu, yellowtail with creamy clam sauce
    • Tedorigawa kinka: Named after river. Unpasteurized so you can feel freshness and “zestiness”
    • Notes: Mark and Allison really liked the toro, but my fave item on the plate was the amber jack because it was cooked just enough and I love the deep umami of the miso paste. I also enjoyed the snail and thought it tasted like a man smells (in a good way…as weird as that sounds).
  • Courses 4-13 (edomae style sushi):
    • Sushi:
      • Sweet Snapper (with lemon, sea salt, and yummy zest) [not pictured]
      • Needle Fish (with soy sauce, ginger, and green onion)
      • Blue Fin (lean part)
        • Note: this is the cut of tuna you would get at a standard, reasonably priced sushi place…so now you can tell how much better it is at a place like this
      • Hard Shell Clam (no pic)
        • Note: This is a really popular clam for sushi in japan
      • Alaskan Salmon Roe
      • Yellowtail Belly
        • Note: It was the end of the season for this and special for us to get. I loved having the flavor of a white fish like yellowtail with the richer, creamier texture of a belly cut – like the toro of the yellowtail world.
      • Sweet Uni
        • Notes: This is famous and I absolutely loved it. It was tied for my favorite piece from this course
      • Medium Fatty Tuna
        • Notes: This was a different cut from the exact same fish as lean the lean tuna we had a few pieces before. I really liked seeing how the cut can affect the flavor and texture of the fish. This is when I realized we were getting into rich territory. This is like the fatty tuna I’ve been served at other sushi restaurants…but here’s it’s only the medium fatty – the best was yet to come. I got giddy when I realized this.
      • King Salmon Belly
      • Barracuda (the top of the skin was seared and brushed with yuzu chili paste)
      • O-toro (premium fatty tuna)
        • Notes: When my brother had this, he immediately asked the chef if we could do it again, this time as sashimi – he was that impressed with the flavor of this big daddy toro [see below]
      • ADDED: Marbled Fatty Tuna Sashimi
        • Mark still preferred the o-toro, but there was something special about this extra tender, marbled tuna. My one note from this course was “wow”.
      • Sweet Omelette (stamped with the restaurant logo)
        • Notes: Sweet and very light. This is the dish that made
    • Sake Pairings:
      • Kikisui Junmai Ginjo: (first three pieces) – Organic (even the soil, rice, etc) from a region where it snows a lot. Very aromatic.
      • Kimoto Extra Dry: Made in the old school way so the flavor is strong and it’s recommended to serve in wine glass. Best with the fattier fish (why it was served in the second half of our sushi course as the fish were getting noticeably richer).
      • Kashmir Tsuro: (we added this pairing) – same brewery as the one before but different – also good with fatty fish
    • Course 14: Fatty tuna hand roll (seaweed is most important part – from Japan)
    • Course 15: Miso soup with shrimp head (we also had choice of mushroom or fish bone) – no spoon
    • Course 16: Desserts: mango sorbet, Japanese cheesecake with blueberry, chocolate with red bean paste and yuzu
      • Paired with: Dessert sake (gets flavor and color from plum itself)
    • Course 17: Green tea (hot)