ELV’s comely young assistant was hungry.
“Let’s go to Nakamura-Ya,” we said.
“Well,” ELV replied, “we certainly liked it the last time we were there, and some hearty noodles and tomato/cream sauces might be just the thing on a cold winter’s night. Like Cat Simril Ishikawa said in the comments section: ‘(The Japanese) know what to do with noodles as the French know what to do with fish.’”
“Besides, on his worst night, Nakamura-san is bound to be whipping up something more interesting than your same old, same old Italian.”
And so we went and so it was. We made a mistake by ordering too many specials with cream sauces (ask the helpful staff for guidance, unlike us), but the fried “Jidori” chicken was first rate, as was the tomato farci gratin. No one of our party of five complained about the Kurobuta pork strips either, although there were a few grumblings about the octopus carpaccio being a bit thick and tough (as tentacles are wont to be), the miso carbonara being one dimensional, and the tomato/uni pasta not being worth the $28 tariff.
Nevertheless, the oddly-named (and odd looking) Kurobuta sausage and kinoko (mushroom) pasta (Japanese soy sauce style!?) disappeared quickly, and everyone raved about the (raw) hirame (summer flounder or fluke) and mizuno salad with its delicate dressing and well-chosen greens. Taken as a whole, the cooking and presentation here is light years beyond your average pasta palace…or even an over-priced, pseudo-sophisticated one…and if you approach these dishes with an open mind, you will be, at the very least, impressed if not dazzled by the creativity behind them.
There’s also a lightness to the dishes you rarely find (even in Italy), along with a more than passable tiramisu, that tastes like it was made minutes earlier, rather than biding its time in the fridge for days.
Is Vegas ready for Japanese-Italian cooking? From the business we’ve seen in this clean, attractive space, it seems yes. These sleek and sp0rty cafes are a welcome addition to our food scene, and just the thing to relieve palate fatigue at highly digestible prices.
ELV’s dinner for five, with plenty of food came to $153 and we left a $35 tip.
5040 West Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89146