A Gourmet Corner on South Durango

Fish n Bowl is one of those under-the-radar places that suffers from two major handicaps: a name that failed to pique our interest (when it opened a year ago) and a location that fails to motivate us to drive there.

Fish n Bowl is located in the far southwestern part of town — on Durango near Warm Springs to be specific — and we detest traveling there almost as much as we hate the soul-sucking faux neighborhoods of Summerlin and Green Valley. There’s nothing particularly soulless about the area surrounding it (aside from the fact that all the houses and shopping centers look alike), but getting there is a flat out pain in the ass for anyone who lives in the center of town (as we do).

No matter how you slice it, driving to this part of the valley — whether you take surface streets (30+ traffic lights), or roundabout on the I-215 — is a 12-13 mile slog. And when the wonders of the Strip (or the burgeoning bounty of downtown) is only minutes away, leaving the ELV palatial manse for such aggravation rarely makes much sense.

But duty (and David Leibner) called, so out we trekked this past Saturday….and surprised we were. Because what chef/owner Howard Choi is doing here is so far beyond your same old same old suburb sushi that we were kicking ourselves for not coming here sooner after only a few bites.

Nothing about the decor tells you what wonders you are in for as you sit down. There’s a small sushi bar on the right, and a maybe 30 seats in the rest of the nondescript space. The most telling thing is the large menu board on the wall (de rigueur in izakaya-type joints these days):

…and a small sign on one wall that implores you to “order off the menu.” Those signs may tempt, but they give you no idea of just how pristine and sparkling the seafood will be.

Your first clue will be after a single bite of yellowtail:

….every bit as good as any sashimi on the Strip, Kabuto, Sen of Japan or elsewhere.

Then comes uni of such bracing freshness:

…that you will rethink your lukewarm reactions to these gonads of the past. Yes, when you eat sea urchin, you are eating the animal’s testes, and too many times they taste like a muddy, stale tidal pool, instead of a sensual slurp of the sea. These were so unsullied they could’ve jumped right off a boat onto your plate.

From there on, the wonders just kept coming. Ponzu oysters that took our breath away:

A definitive salmon skin hand roll:

(Photo by David Leibner)

…and a garlic-butter whitefish with mango salsa:

(Photo by David Leibner)

…of such buttery perfection that we couldn’t stop thinking how much better the seafood has gotten so far from the Strip and the ocean.

Between our fabulous new izakayas (Inyo, Izakaya Go) and newbies like Other Mama and here, the screaming-orgasm-Cali-Philly pseudo-sushi rolls seem to be going the way of the tasseled menu.

Not that certain gimmicky items won’t always be around to tempt the timid into trying something new. Choi’s tempura bacon:

…is as gimmicky as it gets. But it’s also addictive, and not something you’re going to find at I Love Sushi or Osaka.

Likwise, his ahi poke tacos:

…won’t win any awards for ingenuity either, but the quality of the ingredients, and the carefulness of Choi’s concoction, will give you a whole new outlook on why it became popular in the first place.

One discordant note: something called Mr. Monkey apparently got famous with certain fans of overwrought fish fribblings, which may find you fancying a fondle of such foolish frippery. Forsooth! Find the fortitude to forgo such flummery.

If you can’t forestall or forebear (or are like ELV and can resist anything but temptation), what you will find is this:

….a deep-fried, warm, tempura banana upon which is heaped some crab salad and a large slice of cold, raw tuna dotted with some sweet mayonnaise-y sauce stuff. It is bizarre beyond belief, and almost makes us want to renege on our vote of confidence in the death of the contrived and caloric fish constructs.

But we won’t because everything else at Fish n Bowl is so stupendous, we will give them this one concession to pandering to the unwashed masses.

All Mr. Monkey did was confirm (for the 10,000th time) ELV’s undeniable adage: If you want a great dessert in an Asian restaurant, go to a French one.

And if you do have a hankering for something sweet after all those delectable savories, all you have to do is walk out the front door of Fish n Bowl and look to your left. Because in this little gourmet corner of our world, only about 50 feet away, is  one of our greatest pastry shops.

Small but mighty, little Suzuya Pastries & Crepes continues to put out an assortment of the most lip-smacking, fork-dropping, “O” face-inducing desserts this side of Megan Romano. We even here their apple pie is heartily endorsed by some guy name Mr. John Curtas:

Between the two of them, you can satisfy a lot of cravings on south Durango Drive.

So much so, that we may just stop complaining about having to drive here.

(But don’t count on it.)


7225 South Durango Dr.

Las Vegas, NV 89113




7225 South Durango Dr.

Las Vegas, NV 89113