To be quite lawyerly about it…it depends.
Steve Dolinsky considered it the only disappointment in last week’s eating tour of big hitter Strip restaurants — not because he didn’t like the crisp, pristine quality of everything tasted, but only because he felt the price-to-value ratio just wasn’t justified.
We at ELV both agree and disagree with Steverino. True, it is hard to rationalize a price tag of at least $150/person for raw fish, tiny amounts of meat, and vegetables — no matter how precious they may be — since the inscrutable nature of Japanese food is often lost on the western palate. Japanese food can have a subtlety to it that borders on the invisible. That being said, there is an elusive yet stunning quality to the food here that separates it from any other sushi or sashimi — even that in relatively high-end Japanese restaurants — you have ever tasted.
The average American customer — even one used to dining in Japanese restaurants a la Dolinsky — may not taste or get what makes some of these items so special. Neither ELV nor his staff professes any expertise in this area, but we know just enough to recognize the food here as being on a different plane, a higher level, than at any Japanese-American restaurant we have ever dined in.
Call it freshness (that old cliche). Vibrancy. All of the seafood has a certain snap to it, combined with almost unfathomable delicacy. There are contrasts in tastes and textures, plus a depth of flavor in everything from the perfectly seasoned rice to the delicate foams, sauces and accents accompanying the dishes, that beckon and intrigue with every bite. We find ourselves stunned with the interplay of these sensations — which is probably the exact response Masa Takayama is looking to elicit from his customers.
So is it worth it? Probably not for most Americans. Steve is right on that score. But if you’re looking to raise your Japanese eating game, and have the money to invest, this is one of only a handful of places in the United States where you can do so.
In the Aria Hotel and Casino
3730 Las Vegas Blvd. south
Las Vegas, NV 89109