John Curtas is …

The Best Restaurant in Town

Takaya Zenbayashi at work

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It’s tasty.

It’s fresh.

It’s unique.

It’s inexpensive.

It’s chef-owned.

That chef is always at the stoves.

It’s good.

It’s good for you.

It’s as vegetarian or meat-centric as you want it to be.

It’s as spicy or tame as you desire.

It’s clean.

It’s charming.

It’s intimate.

It’s open all the time, i.e. throughout the day.

The service is unfailingly sweet and efficient.

It’s got food that isn’t fancy.

In fact, a lot of it looks like this:

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Or this:

Shrimp

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And sometimes you combine them to have this:

Shrimp with Original Curry

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…or add some tasty condiments:

Pickled radish and garlic

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…to make your tasty plate look like this:

Pork Katsu with condiment toppings

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And if all you want is the world’s most perfectly fried chicken (and who doesn’t love fried chicken?), you can always order this:

Chicken croquette

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As you can see, this food isn’t complicated and it isn’t expensive.

It’s what ELV calls deceptively simple cuisine — food that exists both technically and metaphorically on a different level — like Japanese food in general.

And get this: Takaya-san gets it right every time. We have eaten here almost ten times since it opened and have never ceased to be blown away by the precision and perfection behind every bite. (Those who don’t consider deep-frying an art will get an education with one bite of any of the above-pictured proteins.)

It also happens to be very good for you. (As much as ELV loves Savoy and Gagnaire and Robuchon and Carnevino and Spago, he can’t say with a straight face that he always feels healthier when he walks out of them.)

But when he walks out of The Best Restaurant in Town, he always feels like he’s done something nice for his body, mind and soul.

And did we mention that the chef is always there, cooking his superb recipes, and that those spice-infused concoctions have health-giving properties, and that those spice, herb and vegetable-rich dishes he makes top out at around $12.50?

Add all that up and you have a most excellent eatery and one that puts to shame many a high-flying “concept” restaurant, i.e. places conceived by consultants and run by accountants, e.g., Tivoli Village and every friggin’ spot opening downtown or having opened on the Strip in the past four years.

Some might kvetch that the drink menu is limited (a few good Japanese beers, a couple of middle-brow sakes), and that there’s no dessert to speak of (mochi, coffee jello), but when Snowflake Shavery is right next door, and Sweets Raku is right across the parking lot, there’s no need for such caloric caterwauling.

Besides, when you consider the money and calories you save, you should give the staff a major “domo arigato” for keeping your temptations to a minimum.

Don’t worry if your Japanese isn’t perfect, because everything else about this place is.

Find us a better place in town that combines all of the qualities we’ve cited above, and ELV will personally take you to lunch there.

ELV has never been comped and never spent more than $30 for two at….

ZEN JAPANESE CURRY & TOPPINGS

5020 Spring Mountain Road

Las Vegas, NV 89146

702.985.1192

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