Favorite foodie friend Dr. Keita Sakon alerted us to the opening of this place yesterday, and, always on the lookout for pristine Japanese eats, we zeroed in on the location like a Zeke heading for the Ticonderoga. (Okay, maybe that’s not the best analogy, since those Zeros were trying to kill Anthony John (Cutsumpas) Curtas – 1926-2006 – the Official Father of ELV, but you get the idea.)
I-Naba, as it soon will be called, still doesn’t have a proper sign (the one on display is from the former occupant), and is right down there with our “worst restaurant locations in town” for being obscurely placed on the back side of a shopping center, invisible from the street. Nothing (except Dr. Sakon’s sleuthing and this website) gives you a clue that inside are soba noodles as chewy and tasty as any you’ve ever had.
Unlike some soba, these taste of buckwheat and have just the proper bite to them. Equally arresting is the zuke tororo (marinated, raw tuna), the battera (marinated mackerel on sushi rice) and the satsuma-age (lightly fried fish cakes with ginger) — every bite as haunting and delicate as Japanese food can be.
There was also no fault found with the deeply-flavored broth in the warm soba with vegetables, and the tempura had that subtle, almost invisible crunch that set off the flavor of the shrimp and vegetables without competing with them. Put it all together and you have another entry into the slew of great Japanese eateries that have opened here is the past couple of years — all of them so good, we’re about ready to forgive them for trying to blow up our old man 67 years ago.
3120 South Decatur Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada 89146
(ELV note: To find it, go to the Smith’s shopping center on the NE corner of Desert Inn and Decatur and start poking around the back side of the stores that face Decatur on the north side of the center. When you see a sign that says “Japanese Soba Noodles” you’ll know you’re in the right place.)