“What should we have for dinner?” is the most commonly heard question in Las Vegas. Besides, of course, “Doc, can I get a bulk discount on penicillin?”
The new Yusho Japanese Grill at Monte Carlo makes it easy to decide what’s for dinner with its “Omakase” prix fixe menu. Omakase means “to entrust,” which means you’re putting your faith in the chef to decide which items you’ll get in your six course meal.
If you love Japanese food (and even if you don’t yet), it’s an indulgence you’re likely to find well-worth the $99 price tag.
The Omakase menu is broken up into sections: Classics, Grilled, Noodles, Pickled, Fried, Steam Buns and Sweet. You basically get a dish from each of the sections, although we’re happy the chef decided to skip the “Pickled” section during our visit. That just sounded weird.
First up was an heirloom tomato salad. Which we’re pretty sure wasn’t on the menu, but which everyone seemed to enjoy.
Next up was pork shoulder, with kimchi and cilantro, on a steamed bun. We’d say it was a bao bun, but those are Chinese, and we’re confused enough by the various cultural fusions at Yusho as it is.
Then emerged from the kitchen a fried duck leg drenched in an amazing plum barbeque sauce.
From the Noodles section of the menu, we had the Maitake Ramen. You know, soup.
Part of the fun of the Maitake Ramen is the stuff you get to add to it. Including, wait for it, maitake mushrooms (see below).
Maitake mushrooms are also referred to as “hen-of-the-woods,” “ram’s head” and “sheep’s head.” This mushroom was clearly given its nicknames during a time when people weren’t as swift.
Although the portions are relatively small, by this point in the meal, you begin to approach the wall. Still, you don’t feel like you’ve gorged yourself at a buffet. The fare is light and fresh and bursting with new and interesting flavors. But wait, there’s more.
The meal got serious when two grilled items arrived, the New York Aged Strip Steak (with mushrooms and peppercorns) and Hamachi Kama, probably some sort of fish.
Hamachi kama means “yellowtail collar,” which is apparently the best part of the fish.
It was time to move into the dessert portion of the evening. One of the best parts of visiting a restaurant with a group is you get to try everyone else’s dessert, so that’s what we did.
There was the soft serve, topped with fernet caramel. Fernet is an aromatic spirit. Isn’t it adorable how we pretend to know things off the top of our head, as if we didn’t just Google them?
Yusho’s panna cotta dessert has curry, honey and citrus.
Finally, there are doughnuts (yay, back in our comfort zone). The donuts have tofu (back out of our comfort zone!), sweet potato and rosemary.
In the end, Yusho had more than earned our trust. The service was great, the space is welcoming and mellow and the food was memorable. What more could you ask for of a night out in Vegas?
Our friends at Eater Vegas have an interview Yusho’s Executive Chef, Matthias Merges. Worth a look.
Read more about Yusho, and see the full menu, on the official Monte Carlo site.
“Itadakimasu!” Which, in Japanese, either means “Bon apetit!” or possibly “This Las Vegas blog knows next to nothing about Japanese food, but please feel free to be distracted by our large, colorful photos!”
Then again, at Yusho, you don’t have to know anything about Japanese food. Just trust the people who do, and eat up.