Sometimes, you just want an old reliable.
Or, if not a particularly “old” reliable, a relatively new one that you can trust to deliver the goods as well as the last time you were there.
And when the craving hits for a hunk o’ hunk o’ burnished beef (and you don’t wish to brave the Strip on a weekend’s eve) there’s nothing like Kevin Chong’s menu at Japaneiro (above) — one of the true treasures of local gastronomy.
We told Kevin to go nuts and he did, bringing us basically everything on the left side of the menu plus his popular bone marrow filet, plus six ounces of Japanese A-5 wagyu beef:
All of it composed by the hands of a confident cook who has been slowly sharpening his menu (and building a nice clientele) over the past two years.
All of it was damn tasty and all of it paired beautifully with a ’95 Ducru-Beaucaillou that he graciously allowed us to bring from home, even though he now sports a decent (if limited) beer, wine and sake list.
It would be hard to pick a first among equals in the blizzard of plates we tried, but there’s no doubt Chong is a wizard when it comes to using uni (sea urchin) in all sorts of saline and savory ways. But if we had to pick a favorite, it would have to be these kumamotos topped with urchin and foie gras:
…in what might be the ultimate in surf and turf.
Want another example of urchin excellence? The look no further than this uni-capped sliver of bluefin:
And if it’s just a superior seafood dish you’re after, you won’t be able to top these raw slivers of scallop swimming in yuzu and olive oil:
Like we said, Japaneiro is a restaurant that seems to be hitting its stride, and gaining a local following to match. And if you’re in the Warm Springs and Tenaya in the southwest part of town, don’t even think of getting your beef (or scallop or sea urchin) fix anywhere else.
Chong asked us to stay for dessert, but we had a different fish to re-try. So, up to Spring Mountain Road it was to pay a visit on Mio Ogasawara, and her superior sweets at Raku Sweets:
Ogasawara may look like she’s twelve (she’s actually around the big 3-0), but her desserts belie the passion and technique of a middle-aged master. Her five item dessert menu contains more wonder and jaw-dropping flavors than you’ll find anywhere off the Strip….and only in a few top-of-the-line joints on it.
The only bad news was that the “edible menu” is now gone (sigh), something about the machine that made it being broken. But noshing on the printed menu was only a fun and friendly amuse bouche preceding the joys of the regular desserts — all of which change seasonally, and the lot of which may be the happiest endings in the city…or county:
Yes, it’s nice to know that some of our groundbreaking neighborhood eateries are as strong as they were the day they opened, and that these “new reliables” may live to a ripe and regal old age.
After all, that’s what a great neighborhood dining culture is all about, isn’t it?
ELV’s dinner for two at Japaeiro came to $240 and he left a $50 tip. His three desserts at Sweets Raku came to $38 and he left a $10 tip.
7315 West Warm Springs Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89113
5030 West Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89146