If Mizumi had an advertising budget like Nobu or Bar Masa, Devin Hashimoto would be a household name by now. As it is, he toils in (relative) obscurity in one of the most beautiful restaurants in Las Vegas, seemingly content to kick the ass of his more famous competition, beating them at their own game, night after toothsome night.
That game is multi-tiered Japanese food — robatayaki, yakitori, sushi, sashimi, Asian fusion, and a little Hawaiian thrown in for good measure — designed to meet the needs (and lighten the wallets) of the well-heeled Pacific Rim crowd.
The fish Hashimoto serves you might be from the Sea of Japan or the Sea of Cortez, but you can be assured it will be pristine and treated with reverence. When he gets all fusion-y on you — as with his duck confit in a taro taco with kim-chee sauce and pickled Napa cabbage — you will taste a light hand in the kitchen, and one who knows how to blend tastes and construct contrasts that compliment, rather than fight each other.
If you’re the sort who wastes time with things like California rolls and spicy tuna, you will find these versions as good as they get, but you’ll also be missing the point of this place. Better by far to put yourself in Hashimoto’s hands with his $125 omakase menu and prepare to be dazzled by his Big Island Abalone and Black Truffle Chawanmushi, Mentaiko (marinated roe) Spaghetti with poached jidori egg and ikura (salmon roe), and a Baked Sweet Miso-Marinated Black Cod that achieves the impossible feat of simultaneously paying homage to, and thumbing its nose at, Nobu Matsuhisha.
High rollers among the ELV audience won’t be able to resist the allure the Torchon of Foie Gras with sake macerated cherries and green tea mirin gastrique (or the true Japanese Kobe beef at $42 an ounce!), but parsimonious palates will adore the more gently priced vegetarian options — of which the Ishiyaki Bi Bim Bap is the clear flavor winner.
The fliff-rich imbibers among you will be happy to note that the sake selection is extensive and expensive. ELV — who has been trying to get sake for twenty years — teeters between thinking it’s the only thing to drink with this food… or that the whole thing is a bad joke foisted upon Americans by the Japanese brewing industry. Because of these conflicted feelings, we tend to drink German and Alsatian Rieslings here, of which there are more than a few splendid examples on the wine list.
Max Jacobson: “Following traditional Japanese protocol at high-end restaurants, sushi is served at the end of the meal. I observed a quartet of twenty-something ladies seated at an adjacent table who were happy to make it their entire dinner. Do that, however, and you miss the point. The whole reason for eating in a restaurant such as Mizumi is to experience the range of modern Japanese cooking, which only begins, not ends, with sushi. And that is a genre where chef Hashimoto demonstrates his range with confidence and skill.”
The chef’s wife, I should mention, is Korean, and another favorite item here is the unique ishikayi tartare bi bim bap, an original take on the stone-pot mixed rice and vegetable dish served in most Korean restaurants. This one uses tuna, yellowtail and salmon instead of the customary minced beef, plus a poached Jidori chicken egg to mix in, along with the hot Koreans bean paste, ko ju chang. Great!!
Following traditional Japanese protocol at high-end restaurants, sushi is served at the end of the meal. I observed a quartet of twenty-something ladies seated at an adjacent table who were happy to make it their entire dinner. Do that, however, and you miss the point.
The whole reason for eating in a restaurant such as Mizumi is to experience the range of modern Japanese cooking, which only begins, not ends, with sushi. And that is a genre where chef Hashimoto demonstrates his range with confidence and skill.
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John Mariani: “Hashimoto is widely regarded in Las Vegas as a chef’s chef, and I was in no rush to disagree. His cuisine is careful, not flighty, and the ingredients, however disparate in their regional origins, show that dependence on overnight airfreight can distinguish a kitchen’s choices as well or better than adherence to using only local ingredients.”
Recommended dishes: Torchon of Foie Gras; Chef’s Omakase; Ishiyaki Bi Bim Bap; Mentaiko Spaghetti; Miso-Marinated Black Cod; Marinated Jellyfish in Ponzu and Citrus Yuzu; All Sushi and Sashimi; Big Island Abalone Chawanmushi; Basically everything on the friggin’ menu except the goddamned California and Spicy Tuna Rolls.