Depending on how fine a point you want to put on these things, Osaka can either be your favorite Japanese restaurant in town, or a joint not worth having a yen for.
Since 1967, it has plied Las Vegans with passable representations of Japanese food from its somewhat dingy/sketchy surroundings on West Sahara, and it exists, even thrives, because of a loyal following who fell in love with this food decades ago, and return for decent sushi, sashimi, hand and cut rolls, as well as everything from udon noodle bowls to teriyaki and shabu shabu.
If you think of Osaka as a one-size-fits-all Japanese joint, and don’t expect to have a screaming orgasm during your meal a la Bar Masa or Sen of Japan, you will leave satisfied, if a bit frustrated. If you want to have a screaming orgasm sauce and such, a la I Love Sushi or Sushi Fever, you can get them here done as well as possible…but we doubt you will leave spent and exhausted, aglow with as much post-coital-sushi-bliss as you might like.
Speaking of screaming orgasms, our staff decided to look up who, what and/or where this term/sauce/sushi was first invented. Google was of little help — directing us only to sushi bars featuring the screaming orgasm roll — and if you persist in digging for information about the phrase, you end up at sites featuring attractive Japanese girls doing all kinds of weird things.
But if these sorts of things float your boat, Osaka can deliver them in spades. Purists may blanch at such things as fake crab, long grained rice, green horseradish substituting for wasabi, those atrocious green plastic garnishes dividing the sushi/sashimi platters, and the fact that the sushi chefs look about as Asian as Pancho Villa, but the quality of the fish here is undeniable.
Ditto the rice. If you paid any attention to ELV’s interview with Bar Masa’s Drew Terp — and we know you did — you know sushi is as much about cooking and seasoning the rice as anything else. Here, they handle it with care, serve it ever-so-slightly warm, with just a touch of sushi vinegar (sushi-zu) to set off the flavor of the individual grains. As with a good risotto, you should be able to count the grains of sushi rice in your mouth, and that certainly the case for the careful concoction crafted here.
ELV’s advice to purists would be: stick with the sashimi and nigiri sushi and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of your meal. The rest of you who demand lots of avocado, cream cheese and yum yum sauce with your sloppy, fat, overladen, caloric, Kosher-maki catastrophies will find plenty to like about this place too.
ELV’s two meals of mainly sushi and sashimi came to $78 and $62 respectively with no booze.
4205 West Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Note: There is a second location in Henderson, and an Osaka on Lake Mead near Summerlin that is not connected to this operation.